Music night returns to help put the town back on track

Music night returns to help  put the town back on track
Jazz on The Pantiles

PLANS are being finalised to bring back one of the town’s most popular events … Jazz on The Pantiles.


Organisers told the Times they are hopeful of getting the green light for the first night to be staged on Thursday August 13. 

“But it will be a different evening,” said the man behind the event Julian Leefe-Griffiths.

“It will be seated dining outside for up to 500 people and reservations will be needed.

“The event will obviously meet all the Covid-19 safety restrictions as have similar events in other areas including Soho.

“We’re hoping that this will be the start of getting Tunbridge Wells on the road.”

He added that there will be a large seated area on the Upper Pantiles surrounding the bandstand, and only people who have booked at one of the participating restaurants will be able to gain access to the bandstand area.

To ensure social distancing, it will be seating only, and while you may not be able to stand up to dance, tables will be available for up to six people.

“It’s as simple and as safe as we can make it. We will have sanitising stations at each entrance and the area has marshalled barriers to make sure it’s super organised,” Mr Leefe-Griffiths continued.

He went on to say there will be a £5 donation at the barrier, which pays for the band, security and safety measures, and asked that people didn’t just wander down to The Pantiles as they normally do on a Thursday.

Another boost for the town is the announcement that the ice rink will be back at Calverley grounds…

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has confirmed that the rink can go ahead having assessed that it is safe for it to happen.

The popular attraction, which brings large numbers of people to the town during the festive period is to open on Saturday November 14, with tickets on sale in September through the Assembly Hall Theatre’s website.

Cllr Jane March, who is the cabinet member for Culture at the Council said: “I am very pleased that we’re able to share this good news.”

She said the Council has confirmed that the rink can go ahead in Calverley Grounds, having assessed that it is safe.

The rink will operate in accordance with the social distancing guidelines and legislation in place at the time of opening.

However, this year’s annual pantomime at the Assembly Hall has had to be cancelled due to coronavirus.

The performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has had to be postponed in line with theatres across the country due to the lack of options for social distancing within the auditorium and backstage of the venue.

The panto was due to be put on by a new production company, the award-winning Evolution Productions, and was set to open on December 2020.

Theatre Director JJ Almond said: “This was an incredibly hard decision to take. Panto is a very important part of our programme and we always look forward to seeing people fill the theatre ready to enjoy a fun, festive performance.

“But as time has gone on it has become very clear that the audience experience would suffer if we staged a production with the level of social distancing necessary to be safe.

He continued: “Directing the panto is something that I really enjoy so this decision is hard for me personally too.

“Panto is a shared experience between the performers and the audience that just won’t be available in a socially-distanced setting. What I am sure of is that in 2021 Snow White will find her Prince and our audience will be there to see it.”

Cllr Jane March said: “The challenge for the Council is to strike the balance between generating income from available capacity, and staff, public and performer safety in the context of audiences feeling that attendance is not safe.

“In many cases the losses will be lower if a venue remains closed; as with reduced capacity and social distancing the costs to generate income outweigh the income that can be achieved. It is a dilemma reflected across the industry.

“We have decided to remain closed until April, but we will be regularly reviewing that decision. It is hugely disappointing that as a result of coronavirus the Assembly Hall Theatre was forced to postpone the pantomime, but knowing the ice rink will be open for Christmas is very welcome.”

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