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Norfolk music festival could be revived in 2020 after plug pulled on this summer

PUBLISHED: 13:43 17 January 2019

Gig in the Park in Diss will not go ahead this year after the organiser felt unable to get a gaurantee for another to take place in 2020. Picture: Diss Town Council

Gig in the Park in Diss will not go ahead this year after the organiser felt unable to get a gaurantee for another to take place in 2020. Picture: Diss Town Council

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The organiser who has pulled the plug on a summer music festival planned for a Norfolk town said the event could return in 2020 if issues over the hiring of a park could be settled.

Diss Gig in the Park organiser Geoff Dixon said delays in making a decision on an event in 2020 and over fees had led to a decision to cancel this year's festival. Picture: Antony KellyDiss Gig in the Park organiser Geoff Dixon said delays in making a decision on an event in 2020 and over fees had led to a decision to cancel this year's festival. Picture: Antony Kelly

Geoff Dixon had hoped the Gig in the Park could become an annual event in Diss after the inaugural three-day festival drew more than 2,500 to the town last summer.

However he confirmed the live music event in the Mere Park will now not go ahead this year because he has been unable to secure a guarantee from Diss Town Council that it could also be staged 2020.

He said: “I have been in the live events business for a long time and one rule of thumb is that it is a three year cycle. In the first year you lose money because you are investing in establishing it, in the second year you break even, and in the third if you have a good product you start to make a return.

The Floozies on stage at the first Diss Gig in the Park. Picture: Nick ButcherThe Floozies on stage at the first Diss Gig in the Park. Picture: Nick Butcher

“So we had just been through year one and made a loss and were planning year two hoping to break even, but Diss Town Council was not prepared to give us that comfort that there would be year three. They said they would only do that after they had established a framework for charging people to use the park.

“But we have contractors, caterers, musicians and we can’t ask these people to wait until March or April, so we had to make a decision.”

Mr Dixon said he was also unhappy with the cost of hiring the park and criticised the length of time it had taken to make decisions over this year’s event.

Crowds enjoyed the first Gig in the Park in Diss but the event will not go ahead in 2019. Picture: Marc BettsCrowds enjoyed the first Gig in the Park in Diss but the event will not go ahead in 2019. Picture: Marc Betts

He said: “As an organiser you hope to begin planning for next year as soon as the previous one has finished. While we have had to wait a long time to get an agreement and the council showed enthusiasm for this but then it came down to how much they were going to charge us for using the park and they came up with what I thought was a bizarre charging formula.”

Mr Dixon, who has already decided not to hold the WoW music festival in nearby Burston this year in order to concentrate on Gig in the Park, said he still hoped the Diss event could still be revived for 2020.

More than 40 acts took part in the first festival last July that was headlined by The Blockheads and Dr and the Medics. Local musicians also featured with Diss band The Signs being crowned winners of the first Diss’ Got Talent.

The Blockheads were headliners at last year's Gig in the Park in Diss but the event will not go ahead in 2019. Picture: Marc BettsThe Blockheads were headliners at last year's Gig in the Park in Diss but the event will not go ahead in 2019. Picture: Marc Betts

The event received a number of noise complaints but Mr Dixon had promised changes including controlling noise and finishing earlier on the Saturday and Sunday.

In a statement Diss Town Council said it was “very disappointed” to hear that this year’s Gig in the Park would not now go ahead.

It stated: “This is very surprising given that the council gave the go-ahead in December, and the organisers have in the meantime submitted a license application to the licensing authority, South Norfolk Council.

The stage takes shape for the first Gig in the Park in Diss but the event will not go ahead in 2019. Picture: Marc BettsThe stage takes shape for the first Gig in the Park in Diss but the event will not go ahead in 2019. Picture: Marc Betts

“Mr Dixon suggests he needs a multi-year commitment from the council to stage the event, before embarking on Gig in the Park 2019. This is reasonable and was in fact inferred by council in discussions with the organiser regarding fees. If this was indeed a crucial consideration for the event, it would have been valuable to stress this to the council during the meetings that were held. Diss Town Council is and has always been very positive towards Gig in the Park.”

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