Seafront Manager Phillip Kingsland-Budd’s time with Eastboure Borough Council comes to an end this week as he prepares to say a fond farewell to the Bandstand, which has seen many changes over the last three decades.
Back when Phill started working for the authority, the iconic seafront landmark was home to military bands for the full summer season. Each band would come for a residency for a six-day week, with civilian bands playing on a Saturday afternoon.
In 2004, during the Iraq war, it became difficult to book military bands because they were out on active service, so Phill decided to book alternative musical entertainment.
In 2005, the first ABBA tribute act was booked to perform at the Bandstand and was ‘an overwhelming success’. The following year saw the start of the Tribute Show season as we know it, with different weekly shows on Friday evenings.
Even when the war ended and military bands returned to the Bandstand, it became immediately apparent that audience figures were in decline.
Along with rising costs of the bands and government cuts to the military, it was no longer viable to maintain the old military band programme.
So, Phill decided to overhaul the venue’s entire yearly programme.
He introduced a full Tribute Show programme, along with Big Band Nights, Kids’ Discos and moved the 1812 Fireworks concerts back from the Redoubt Fortress to the Bandstand.
According to the council, these decisions helped build the Bandstand season up year on year to a point where it now sees more than 50,000 visitors to its shows annually.
More additions in recent years, such as the Open Stage Nights and Halloween specials, have added to the venue’s success and proven the Bandstand still has more to offer.
Despite the departure, audiences can still enjoy a full programme organised by Phill in 2024.