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The Do's and Don'ts: Performing on a Bandstand

A Toolkit for putting on an event

This toolkit should contain all the information you need to enable you to put on an event on a bandstand. However, not everything will be relevant to you - if you for example wanting to put on a whole days event and expect to attract a significant crowd, most of it will be relevant. If you are just a budding pair of musicians and want to busk here for a couple of hours - most of it is irrelevant, apart from giving the Local Council a quick call. Remember the aim of this is to bring bandstands back to life. Don't be put off. Get gigging.


Once you have got this far you will have given some thought to the kind of event you want to put on, whether it is yourself that is performing or you are simply hosting an event. You may like to think what kind of music you might include on the day. You will have contacted the managing authority for the bandstand and looked at what charges there might be, whether you need to book formally (some can be done online), met the council officer or agent on site and assessed the condition and location of the bandstand.


So you have done most of the work to get your event off the ground, but you need to make sure people will know about it and you will have an audience on the day.


Your potential audience for your event is as diverse as they come. It is all about bringing people together in your local community. You need to think about what this means in terms of the groups of people you could target most easily. You may have access to: 

  • Schools, youth groups and children's summer clubs;

  • Churches and other religious centres;

  • Libraries;

  • Sports and leisure clubs;

  • Members/friends/family of your own music or theatre group - but also those of any others in the vicinity. If you're unsure what there is, get in touch with your local authority events officer / team who may be able to advise or assist you;

  • Neighbourhood Watch schemes, local friends' schemes, community networks. 


Once you have identified some of your target audience groups, there are many ways you can promote your event:-

  • Email - start up an email campaign and ask people to forward on to their own friends, family and neighbours.

  • Facebook - a hugely popular media tool and one of the main methods of passing event information through large communities of online users. Create an event, invite people to attend, ask them to post the event in their own profiles to spread the word even further.

  • Twitter - becoming more popular than Facebook in many areas of usage - tweet your event with the hashtag#. You will be amazed how many people now use Twitter.

  • Leaflets and posters - distributed in libraries, noticeboards, community centres, youth clubs and so on. Even Supermarkets have community noticeboards too.

  • Local radio - they are always looking for local news angles. Why not see if you can persuade your local community radio station to give your event a bit of airtime?

  • Local newspapers - you can create a short newsworthy story about your event and encourage the local paper to run with.

  • Listings websites - use local listings resources and forums to add details of your event, together with the website for your own group and those of others in the vicinity.



You need to consider what budget you may need for putting on your event. The management of the bandstand (usually a Local Council) may have a charge for hiring it - many are however free of charge unless it is one of the bigger more commercial bandstands such as Eastbourne or Brighton who may have a hire charge. Contact them to find out and haggle if there is a charge. The whole concept of this is to bring bandstands back to life. It should be free. If you are organising an event for others, you will need to think about travel costs, Temporary Event Notice, PA Hire, refreshments etc but it can be as cheap as you can afford or in fact it could be virtually free. Some Local Councils will even pay a fee as part of a summer programme of entertainment.


You will need to think through as much of the day in advance as possible, to consider fully how your'e going to organise things to make sure the event runs smoothly.

- Local Authority Registration Form - you must contact the Local Authority to book the bandstand - details on the database. Most Council's have online booking but many do not but give them a call. Most are either in the Parks Department, Arts and Events Teams or Leisure Services - but don't give up. There is often much information on the forms and once you have gone through, you will need a conversation with your Local Council contact, and in any case it will be useful to touch base with them so that you can establish a working relationship in the run-up to your event.

Once you have worked through your Local Authority registration form, it might be useful to identify within that any areas of concern or need for additional arrangements that might arise. For example, access to toilets, closure of the local park.

- General Logistics - here are a few more questions you may want to build into your planning.

1. What is the access like to the bandstand?

2. Is any power going to be needed by performing groups or your band, and if so, is this easily obtained? Do you need to speak with the Local Authority about this?

3. What provision is there for public lavatory facilities - and do you need to make arrangements for this with local establishments?

4. Is there a nearby shop or cafe where people will be able to purchase refreshments?

5. Is there any seating provided nearby for those who need it? If not, can this be obtained by borrowing from a local community group or village hall?

6. What facilities are there for collecting litter in the vicinity?

7. If its a large event you are planning, could you set up a lost child point which you can make people aware of?

8. Can you get in touch with your local Police Community Support Officers to let them know about the event and invite them to attend?

9. If its a large event, how will you minimise the impact of your event on the environment? 


When you are putting together plans for your bandstand event, you will probably want to ensure that as many people as possible will be able to enjoy participating, listening and watching over the course of the event. Taking into account into making your bandstand event is as accessible to a broad range of people will help you achieve that, so here is a checklist of things to consider when your'e planning your event.

Your event is clearly outdoors so make sure you think about:

  • Transport links- how will people get there? is there parking nearby?

  • Can you tell people where the nearest public conveniences are?

  • What will you do if the weather is too inclement? Rain? strong winds? too hot or cold?

  • Is there any seating for those who need it? what are the main routes to the bandstand? 


Bandstand events are essentially sustainable events as they are promoting the use of often old bandstands across the country. Most of the music is acoustic or brass/wind and does not require a PA System or generator. When you plan your event, consider ways you can reduce waste and recycle. For more information on sustainable event management visit


Once you have programmed the music for the afternoon, you will need to make a detailed timetable to show clearly who is on and when and build in sufficient time for movement of groups between sets. You will also need to think about where people are going to put their instrument cases (if applicable - don't forget bandstands are often "in the round") and other personal belongings while they are playing, and at least advise them they are responsible for keeping their belongings safe.

How are you going to manage the transition between each group? For example, you might want to invite the leader of the departing or incoming group to talk a bit about their group and what they are up to, or how people might get involved with them. 


If you are planning to present each group yourself, or have a volunteer do that, here are a few guidelines about compering if you are new to stage presentation. 

  • Make sure you research your acts and have a few notes about each one prepared so you can introduce your acts with some integrity.

  • Let your audience know what's going on, but in as upbeat a way as possible. If your band is 10 minutes late, let your audience know that now is a good time to get a coffee!

  • Remember to interact with the audience. Ask them how it's going.

  • Have some stock phrases to use if you get stuck. Remind people what the event is and what it's about.


You may wish to organise a collection during the event for a local charity, or even for your own group. To do this you will need to make sure you have a collections licence in place. It is important to check to see what kind of collections are acceptable. Some Local Authorities forbid any kind of collection, whereas some are happy as long as a collections licence is in place. 


Risk management

As part of your event management, it goes without saying that you will need to make sure everyone involved in the event is safe, and that you are aware of and adhere to the law and to best practice, in order to protect yourself and your volunteers, as well as the general public. In fact, as event organisers, you have a legal duty of care to your audience with respect to health & safety, and it is important to take this responsibility seriously. Managing risk is about identifying what hazards might arise, assessing their importance and impact on you and your event, and taking appropriate steps to minimise the risks of likelihood or impact - i.e. thinking through as much as possible in advance, and putting into effect practices or policies to deal with the unlikely event that things go wrong. 

What is risk management?

Risk management is the process by which you identify potential risk events or threats to you and your organisation or project that might arise as a result of your activities, assess the impact of these events should they occur, the likelihood of them occurring, and the action you might decide to take either to minimise them or to respond to them should they happen.

A risk event is an uncertain event or set of circumstances that, should it occur, will have an effect on desired outcomes. The effect could be positive or negative, and it is usual but not essential that risk assessment focuses on adverse effects.

A hazard is a risk event that has the potential to cause harm to people. This could be a dangerous property or an item or a substance, a condition, a situation or an activity.

Risk is the likelihood that the harm from a risk event is realised and the extent of it. In a risk assessment, risk should reflect both the likelihood that harm will occur and its severity.

It is not expected that in identifying the risks you will necessarily be able to remove them, but if you can consider them and take any necessary steps to minimise them, it will stand you in good stead if it comes to having to deal with them in reality. It will also help you identify which are the most significant risks in terms of severity and likelihood. Furthermore, should an incident ever occur for which your organisation is held responsible, you will be able to demonstrate the steps you have taken to do your best to prevent this happening, which will be an important consideration. The presence of risk is not a reason not to undertake an activity, but it is of course good practice to ensure that overall risk levels are managed and where appropriate reduced to acceptable levels. 

How do you do it?

A risk assessment has five steps:

  • Identify the risk event/hazard

  • Determine its severity/impact should it occur

  • Determine the likelihood of it happening

  • Calculate a relative rating for the risk based on the combination of likelihood and impact

  • Decide on any actions to take in order to minimise the risk. 

In calculating the impact and likelihood of a particular hazard, you could either simply indicate a high, medium or low ranking, or you could use a numeric scale eg 1 to 5. The overall rating of risk is then a combination of the two. So if the impact is high and the likelihood is low, then a medium ranking might be appropriate. If using a numeric scale, it is normal to multiply one number by the other: so if the impact is 5 (where 5 is a high impact) and likelihood is 4 (where 5 is very likely), the combined factor would be 20 (this is known as a risk process number). You would then need to agree a benchmark rating, for example those with a rating of 12 or more being considered high risk and requiring the most attention.

Mitigating the risk

Once you have identified and assessed the risk, you need to determine which risks need to be addressed and what action can be taken to mitigate those risks. Actions can take four basic forms. One reduces the probability of an event occurring, another seeks to detect the event occurring and thereby limit the impact, another reduces the severity of impact should it occur and the fourth seeks to minimise the impact by transferring the cost of the impact elsewhere (insurance). Once the risk mitigation activity has been undertaken, the risk assessment should be reviewed. If the mitigation has been successful then the risk score will have been reduced.


There are two kinds of licensing laws that you are likely to come into contact with when you run your bandstand event. The Public Entertainment Act 2003 governs the licensing of venues and spaces used for public performance; and Performing Rights apply to any live public performance of music that is copyright. These may sound daunting but they are actually straightforward in practice.

Public Entertainment: Venue Licensing

If you are performing at a venue run by the Local Authority, it is very likely that they will already have acquired a licence for it to host public performances. You should, however, check with the Local Authority that this is the case; and with the bandstand administration if not the Local Authority. Most of the bandstands listed are in Local Authority ownership, so it should not be a problem. If you find that the venue is not already licensed, you will need to apply in advance for a Temporary Event Notice (TEN). This is a standard procedure costing £21, and your Local Authority will have a form available on its website together with instructions about how to apply. You need to apply at least 10 days in advance, so make sure you don't leave it to the last minute.

Different licensing laws apply in Scotland, and across the different Scottish Councils. As your event is free for people to attend, it is very unlikely that you will need to licence your event for public entertainment. However, you should check with your local council's Licensing Team to be sure. You should also make sure that the event is approved by the local authority's Environmental Services department.

Performing Rights

Copyright exists to protect the rights of the composer of a piece of music to draw a fee from the performance of his or her work. Without a doubt, as the bandstand where you are performing will already be licensed for the right to perform music, you do not have to take any action or worry about this.

Insuring Your Event

Insurance is necessary. As an event organiser you are inviting members of the public into a venue, and coordinating volunteers - and you have duties of care towards them. Although every effort should be made, no amount of planning will eliminate all risk and avoid all accidents; therefore having insurance cover for your potential liabilities is important and in some instances a legal requirement or condition of the venue, and likely to be required by the local authority.

Public Liability Insurance (PLI) is designed to cover your legal liability, following a successful claim by a member of the public or another business. Proof of PLI is often made a requirement for permission for your bandstand event to be granted. The organisation Making Music offer extremely competitive quotes.

Health & Safety and First Aid

If you are organising a large event, it is wise to think through the risks to the health and safety of your audience and those participating in your event. There are many excellent guidelines about health and safety available online, particularly on the website of the HSE.

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