Proms in Park may be shelved

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - by Dean Kilpatrick @KM_news­room Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter

One of Maid­stone’s most pop­u­lar mu­sic events is set to be axed af­ter coun­cil of­fi­cers con­cluded they could not jus­tify a 185% hike in ticket prices.

Proms in the Park – which takes place in What­man Park – was due to re­ceive £5,000 from Maid­stone Bor­ough Coun­cil next year, be­fore los­ing all pub­lic fund­ing in 2020.

How­ever in 2017 it se­cured £14,000 to­wards the run­ning costs.

Ticket prices were in­tro­duced for the first time this year, but of­fi­cials sug­gest the en­trance fee would have to in­crease by 185% in 2019 (from £7 to £20) to make the event sus­tain­able.

In a press re­lease is­sued by the au­thor­ity in April, Proms in the Park is de­scribed as “one of Maid­stone’s most pop­u­lar an­nual events” with “mu­si­cal cel­e­bra­tions on a glorious spring day”.

A sur­vey in 2016 sug­gested res­i­dents would be un­happy to pay more than £10 to at­tend.

Coun­cil pa­pers, due to be de­bated on Tues­day read: “Events have a life cy­cle and it could be an ap­pro­pri­ate time to dis­con­tinue Proms in the Park.

“At­tendee num­bers are fall­ing, costs are ris­ing, and What­man Park is a chal­leng­ing venue due to a lack of ac­cess for tem­po­rary toi­lets and lack of park­ing.”

It sug­gested the re­main­ing £5,000 in 2019 could be used on new ad­di­tions such as mu­sic on the band­stand in Brench­ley Gar­dens, or events in Ju­bilee Square.”

Other ways of fund­ing pro­mos have been ex­plored, but spon­sors have not been in­ter­ested partly due to the num­ber of peo­ple at­tend­ing. Less than 600 adult tick­ets were sold in 2018, while 300 chil­dren at­tended for free.

The re­port adds: “In pre­vi­ous years, the au­di­ence has been es­ti­mated be­tween 1,200 and 2,000.

“The vari­a­tion is a re­sult of a va­ri­ety of fac­tors in­clud­ing weather and pro­gramme changes such as no longer hav­ing fire­works at the fi­nale.”

Mem­bers of Maid­stone Bor­ough Coun­cil’s her­itage, cul­ture and leisure com­mit­tee are rec­om­mended to sup­port its can­cel­la­tion. Park­wood Leisure, which pro­vided the event man­age­ment will have to sup­port an­other func­tion to meet its obli­ga­tions.

Pic­ture: Martin Apps

John Ge­or­giadis leads the or­ches­tra in 2015 to a packed What­man Park

Pic­ture: Andy Jones

The 2018 day out which had seen vis­i­tor num­bers plum­met

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