More concerts for Gunnersbury Park … the CIC must employ a community engagement manager

We have been warned that Festival Republic, a well-known concert organiser, wants to announce before this weekend, and before having the necessary permissions and contract in place, that a festival called Gunnersville will be taking place in Gunnersbury Park over three days in September.  This arrangement has been described to us by the CIC as “subject to contract” which is a very different thing from “subject to consultation”.  It is yet another example of the CIC’s reluctance to consider local community, local opinion and local impact.

It is clear from this application that Gunnersbury Park is establishing itself as a festival venue.  It’s not a once a year disruption from Lovebox/Citadel.  Gunnersville might be a one-off this year or it might establish itself here for the long term.  How many more festivals will there be?  Will they all be held every year?

As a result of this latest application, Jo has called for the CIC to employ a community engagement manager to work with residents and businesses on minimising the impact of these events.  Lovebox/Citadel has appointed one for this year’s festivals and we hope this will make a significant difference with that festival.  However, lessons learned from last year and from this year should be in Gunnersbury Park’s corporate memory, not that of one contractor.   It will not be available to organisers of other festivals that take place in Gunnersbury Park.  We need one community engagement service for all events.  The need is to keep knowledge and understanding about the area and its residents here, not see it disappear into one festival organiser’s bank of expertise.

We have also asked for clarification about Festival Republic and its negotiations with the CIC.  The email from the CIC’s events manager, The Event Umbrella, isn’t clear.  Is Festival Republic in discussion about a series of events including Gunnersville or about the three day series that is Gunnersville?

Festival Republic organises the annual Latitude Festival. The application is for a crowd of 12,000 per concert.  Photos on Festival Republic’s website show it is not going to be a quiet few days. See the Festival Republic website here.

The exchange of emails is below starting with the email from the CIC’s outsourced events management agency.

“We are writing to bring it to your attention that the Gunnersbury Estate (2026) CIC has been in discussion with an event organiser looking to deliver a series of concerts at Gunnersbury Park in September 2019.The event organiser has said that for commercial reasons they want to announce 3 of these concerts at Gunnersbury Park before this weekend. Please be assured that the organisers are prepared to make this announcement at their own risk as the CIC has not entered into any contractual agreement with the organisers to date. We wanted to let you know of this announcement in advance, should you or any of your constituents see this announcement this week.
Event Name: Gunnersville (Concert Series)
Event Organisers: Festival Republic
Dates: 6, 7, 8 September 2019
Capacity: 12,000 per concert
“Please note that further information on this event proposal will be sent to all Councillors and stakeholders at a later date.
“If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask”.

Email from Councillor Joanna Biddolph to Gunnersbury Park CIC and its event organiser

“It isn’t clear from Alex’s email whether Festival Republic is talking with the CIC about a series of concerts in Gunnersbury Park beyond the three called Gunnersville or if it is only discussing those three.  Please can you clarify.

“I note that the email is headed “Subject to contract”.  Has any thought been given to “Subject to consultation”?

“I have concerns and reservations as others have and would like to add:

  • Where in the park is it proposed to take place?
  • Which way will the stage and speakers be facing – will it be towards Chiswick yet again?  Can this be changed so the impact isn’t on the same residents and communities as with Lovebox/Citadel?
  • What are the proposals for community engagement and consultation?  Does Festival Republic have a community engagement manager?  Will the lessons learned from Lovebox/Citadel, and actions required to mitigate problems, be taken on board by Festival Republic or will it be starting from scratch, as if for the first time and making the same mistakes despite us having identified them and sought actions to prevent or minimise them? 
  • It is time for the CIC to employ a community engagement manager so we don’t have to go through the same time-consuming exercise of reiterating the same issues every time there is a festival or large event in the park.  The CIC must not be like Lovebox/Citadel and start every year as if for the first time with no reference to what went well or wrong before.  The CIC must capitalise on, not ignore, the corporate memory that has been established.  I urge the CIC to put this sensible and strong recommendation into place.  We must not have repeats of problems simply because the contractor is different.”