Brass Bands England (BBE) has responded with delight that the European Brass Band Championships could well be set to return to England for the first time in 17 years.
It follows an announcement by European Brass Band Association (EBBA) President, Ulf Rosenberg at the EBBA Annual General Meeting in Montreux that confirmed that the EBBA Executive Committee had ratified the opening of a process that could eventually lead to the signing of a formal agreement to host the event based at Sage Gateshead in 2024.
The 1640 seat Sage One would host the major events with Sage Two (450 seats) a potential venue for side events.
BBE made a polished presentation at both the delegates meeting and AGM; one that emphasised its meeting of the key elements that EBBA pays great importance upon — venue, infrastructure, organisation and finance.
BBE also hoped to leave a 'lasting legacy' to support bands throughout England with a pre-contest 'Brass Arts Festival' linking together innovative musical partnerships.
If the process is successful it will be the first time that the European Championships will have been held in England since 2007.
Arts Council approval
It was revealed that the event would be run by a 'Special Events' company to run alongside the current BBE organisation to ring fence its delivery from BBE normal operations.
The high level projection of cost was approximately £238,000, although it was hoped that it would prove to be 'cost neutral' through ticket sales, advertising, trade and programme revenues.
When asked by 4BR how the event would be financially underwritten, CEO Kenneth Crookston revealed that the safeguard would come from BBE.
When pressed further, given that BBE is itself core funded through Arts Council England, he revealed that although no formal agreement with ACE was currently in place, their CEO Darren Henley had indicated his "approval"of the bid, which was "as good as having it in writing".
Currently, BBE receives funding of £207,000 a year, with the current funding cycle ending in 2021/2022.
4BR understands that Wales, which had already indicated its intention to enter into the process for hosting the 2024 event will still present its progress report to EBBA.
Their spokesperson told 4BR in Montreux: "BBE's announcement shows the attraction of hosting the event and we wish them well. However, we believe we are currently at the same stage of initial progress and we will continue to invest time and resources into our efforts."
Reflecting on the decision, BBE Chief Executive Officer, Kenneth Crookston, said: "This is fantastic news for brass bands in England, which will bring added focus to our existing work as we aim to present a nationwide festival that we hope will give all of our member organisations an opportunity to share in this unique showcase for our culture.
I'd like to thank the Executive Committee and delegates of the European Brass Band Association for their confidence in our work.
With the help of our trustees and volunteers we will aim to present a memorable festival of brass that will enhance the legacy of this great event."
Meanwhile, BBE Chair Mike Kilroy added: "This is a real boost for brass bands in England and the rest of the UK. It's also testament to the work of our dedicated staff and we would like to thank Nigel Stevens for his valuable input into this very special project so far. The next five years are going to be very exciting!"
It was revealed that the event would be run by a 'Special Events' company to run alongside the current BBE organisation to ring fence its delivery from BBE normal operations4BR
Ulf Rosenberg added: "England is the birth country of the European Brass Band Championships and EBBA is delighted that BBE has presented us with an opportunity to return there in 2024.
This mandate to proceed towards finalising the contract for 2024 is based on the EBBA Executive Committee's recommendation to the AGM, having considered all aspects of BBE's presentation.
Anyone who has attended the Brass in Concert Festival in recent years will know that Sage Gateshead is a wonderful venue and we are confident that the bands that travel there in five years' time will have a great experience."