Rug could be pulled from picnic concerts

THOUSANDS of music fans could be left disappointed this summer as a replacement company has still not been appointed to organise the Audley End picnic concerts.

Former concert organisers IMG and English Heritage, which owns the house, have announced they will not be working together in 2012 after failing to agree a new contract.

Although discussions were ongoing with alternative promoters, there were fears there could be a break in the famous events if a replacement company cannot be found quickly.

An English Heritage spokesman said: “It is too early for us to confirm our concert plans for Audley End this summer. Discussions are ongoing and we hope to make an announcement soon.

“As is the case with Kenwood House, it is not unusual for a venue to take a break for a year.”

One industry expert told the Reporter that the future looked bleak for the 2012 concerts as time was against them – it would be tough for an alternative organiser to step in and run the concerts at such short notice, he said.

“It would not be easy for another promoter to come in at such a late stage although it is not impossible. It would come down to the difficulty of getting licences in time, which can be tricky.

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“Obviously, having to negotiate with performers and make sure the tickets are ready to go on sale by the beginning of April would be a struggle.”

Previous concerts have attracted a host of internationally renowned music stars, including Tom Jones, Katherine Jenkins, Jools Holland and Will Young.

Duty manager at the Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre Rachel Thomas said it would be a shame if the concerts did not go ahead – especially with the London Olympics and Queen’s Jubilee on the horizon.

“The summer concert programme can cater for up to 50,000 people over the five nights and the event with Tom Jones last year was a complete sell out – we had people queuing out the door the day the tickets went on sale.

“The picnic concerts are an important part of Saffron Walden’s event programme and they bring a wonderful vibe to the town. It would be a sad loss if they did not go ahead.

“We are staying positive that a new promoter will be found, whether it is for this year or looking forward to 2013 and beyond.”

The concerts have been running since 1990 when English Heritage originally had its own concert division. IMG started organising the events in 2000.