Bid for Arts Council funding to make use of neglected Wardown Park bandstand

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A bid for financial support is well underway to help arrange events at a renovated Luton bandstand, a borough council meeting heard.

The bandstand would be in danger of falling into disrepair again without a programme of events there, according to Liberal Democrat Crawley councillor Terry Keens.

He asked cultural enabler Michaela Nutt, at an overview and scrutiny board meeting in November, whether there are any plans for using the venue.

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“I think it’s dreadful you can’t do something with the bandstand,” he had said.

Luton Rotary bandstand at Wardown ParkLuton Rotary bandstand at Wardown Park
Luton Rotary bandstand at Wardown Park

“Bedford use theirs constantly. It’s well attended. But ours is just going to fall into disrepair. I know it is,” he warned.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday, (Jan 21st) councillor Keens asked how the programme to organise use of the bandstand in Wardown Park is progressing.

Labour Challney councillor Khitja Malik replied: “Following on from Luton Rotary Club gifting the facility to the local authority, the council has been maintaining it.

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“But it is free to use to any community group. These organisations can book the bandstand through the parks department.

“And it will be promoted more in the Spring when the weather is much better.

“However, to really make use of the bandstand there is a need for a dedicated role to programme the use of the space.

“The council’s cultural enabler has been supporting the Rotary Club to bid for Arts Council funding for a programme to make the best use of that space.

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“And this bid will be going in shortly,” added councillor Malik, who’s the executive member for health and wellbeing.

Councillor Keens then asked whether all the information is on the local authority’s website.

Councillor Malik explained that she has only just taken over the portfolio from Labour High Town councillor Rachel Hopkins, who is now Luton South MP.

At the November meeting, the cultural enabler said: “We think some shared resource around promoting it as a free venue is the way to go.

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“We need to make sure schools and similar organisations know about it and that it’s free to book.

“I have recommended the Rotary Club applies for some funding, so that it can develop the programme.”

She was pleased to see the club is committed to paying the artists and performers as well.

The Rotary Club funded improvements to the bandstand, which was then gifted to the council.

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“We are in a difficult position in terms of the arts strategy, as we need to pay our artists and performers,” she added.

“It can be a free venue for hire, but there’s no resource to do anything more than that.”

The board also heard that the sort of groups likely to use the bandstand might do so for £500.