Jazz nights to continue

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Music lovers, pub-goers and socialisers can breathe a sigh of relief. Tunbridge Wells businesses have stepped in to rescue the summer jazz festival from a funding shortfall.

Last week the Times broke the news that Jazz on the Pantiles was in danger of being abandoned after the main sponsor pulled out just weeks before the sessions were due to begin.

They left behind a £10,000 gap in funding which has now been plugged by One Warwick Park, the new hotel that is due to open in June.

Praising the ‘overwhelming’ support he received from the business community at such short notice, Julian Leefe-Griffiths, owner of the Tunbridge Wells Hotel and event organiser said: “This is fantastic news and we are incredibly pleased One Warwick Park has stepped in to allow the jazz to continue as it has done for many years.

“It is such a relief to find a sponsor and I thank the Times for highlighting our plight, which led to a lot of businesses stepping up.”

Both Dandara, which is soon to embark on the redevelopment of Union House on The Pantiles, and Thomson Snell & Passmore, the UK’s oldest law firm and based in Tunbridge Wells, have been named as secondary sponsors.

Without the necessary sponsors, there could have been serious financial implications for traders operating on The Pantiles, as the event draws up to 70,000 people each year, many of whom eat or drink at nearby establishments.

The financial boost is such that Pantiles traders pay half of the £70,000 bill to host the event, which runs from May 5 until September 29, themselves.

Aside from the £10,000 contributed by the main sponsor, other sponsors often pay smaller amounts with the rest being made up of donations from the public on the night. Most donate £2. Some, though, put nothing in the collection buckets.

Andrew Daniells, Chief Operating Officer of One Warwick Park said: “When we first read that the summer jazz festival was in danger of not happening, like most local businesses we were very concerned.

“Having previously operated a hotel adjacent to The Pantiles we appreciate how important it is to stage events which regularly attract hundreds of people to the area, all the more so this year with many large music festivals drawing people away from the town centre.

“One Warwick Park Hotel opens in June and we see our business as much a part of The Pantiles and High Street as any other business.

“We are delighted to be sponsoring the jazz this year, helping to ensure the success continues, and our team are now working alongside the organisers to make this year better than ever.”

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