Promoter shelves concerts at venue

A MUSIC promoter has branded a new �18.5million public venue “a joke” after shelving plans for a series of concerts.

John Hessenthaler, a Suffolk-based concert promoter, hoped to stage gigs starring Slade, The Specials and Rick Wakeman at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds in November and December.

Despite a “sound check” season being launched at the venue in October, Mr Hessenthaler said he had delayed the events as the Apex box office is yet to open.

“It is an absolute joke,” he said. “They haven’t promoted it at all.

“If you are opening a new venue in October, you would start to put the line-up together six months before.”

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Mr Hessenthaler, who has staged gigs for top acts during more than 30 years in the business, said he was initially excited by the a new, 500-seat auditorium opening in Bury.

But the promoter, who lives in Lavenham, said he had been unimpressed with the lack of publicity for the new space.

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“It is just so disorganised,” he said. “It is a huge, missed opportunity.”

The cost of the new venue has spiralled from an estimated �11m to �18.5m.

Contractors have now handed the building over to St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which recently made a bid for an extra �208,000 to fit out the top floor.

The Apex box office will open on September 6, with an open weekend on October 9 and 10.

A spokeswoman for the borough council said there was a planned marketing programme for the Apex starting in September.

“We have been busy promoting the availability of the Apex to potential hirers and building up support among a wide range of organisations,” she said.

“We will go on to promote the box office and publish programmes at appropriate times in the coming years to various audiences through a range of print, broadcast and electronic communications routes.”

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