A new music festival for 20,000 dance fans could be staged in Brighton next year if the council agrees. Organisers are asking Brighton & Hove City Council for permission to put on the one-day Shakedown dance festival in Stanmer Park next July.
Previous events on this scale have succeeded only in achieving loss of money and loss of face for the organisers witness last year's failed Beachdown event and previous Essential Festivals in the late 90s. What makes this one any different?
A decision on whether the council should begin public consultation will be made at one of the regular meetings led by cabinet member for culture Councillor David Smith, on September 21. Officials are recommending the move.
The festival would have a main stage and a dance tent, plus bars, food outlets and first aid. Tickets would be sold, with prices yet to be announced.
Cllr Smith said, “We’ll take a serious look at it. Big events are a mainstay of our visitor economy and something we now have considerable experience at. Obviously we need to consult properly to make sure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. But in principle it’s the sort of thing the city supports.”
Owner of Stanmer House, Mike Holland, is somewhat less optimistic that such an event will succeed in the light of past failures (including one that he ran himself). “I have told the organiser that it is sure way to lose vast amounts of money. I also made it clear that I would oppose it as it would affect our business on one of our busiest days . His response was to hire Stanmer House for the day and pay a substantial deposit. Therefore I can't really oppose it now,” said Holland.
He added, “The councillor's statement is wildly misleading. Never before has anything on the scale of 20,000 people ever been attempted in Stanmer Park and I don’t expect it ever will. It is a one day event, which if cheap enough may well attract 10,000 visitors. However they will not make any money even if the sun shines.”
Mike Holland went on to suggest that a council sponsored annual music event would be a good vote winner amongst the young sector that the council so needs to win over.
Following consultation a full cabinet meeting would later need to give consent for the council-owned park to be used.
If approved the festival would happen on Saturday July 9 between noon and midnight.
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