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Council grant aims to ensure 2017 Comedy Festival in city

Published on Wednesday, July 13, 2016

LEICESTER City Council is to provide a one-off grant to the Leicester Comedy Festival after its main sponsor Dave TV ended its funding of the event this year.

The council is to step in with a £35,000 grant to ensure festival organisers Big Difference Company – a Leicester-based charity which has been running the event in the city every February since 1994 – can put on the festival in 2017.

The grant will be in addition to the £24,000 of funding the council contributes towards the festival each year.

Big Difference company are currently in negotiation with other local organisations and businesses to confirm sponsorship income to support the festival.

Cllr Piara Singh Clair, asst city mayor for culture, leisure and sport said: “The Leicester Comedy Festival is one of Leicester’s biggest and most successful events, drawing in thousands of people from across the region and the country at what is usually a very quiet time of year.

“It is estimated to be worth around £3million to the local economy, with around 57% of attendees coming from outside the city, which along with the profile its coverage in the national media gives us, makes it of huge value to Leicester.

“Big Difference Company are confident they can secure another major sponsorship deal. This one-off grant will give them the time to do that, and will help to ensure the many benefits of the festival, particularly the economic ones, are not lost.”

The funding will come from the council’s city development and neighbourhoods budget.

Geoff Rowe, founder and director of the festival, said: “We are really grateful to have confirmation of this additional funding from Leicester City Council.  We have always worked closely with staff and councillors who recognise the impact the festival has, both economically and socially, and this additional funding will ensure the continued development of Leicester Comedy Festival. 

“In the past few weeks and months we have been really encouraged by the interest local organisations have shown in the festival and we will be announcing other partnerships with funders and sponsors soon.”

Leicester Comedy Festival has been running in the city since 1994, when it held 40 events, at 40 venues, over seven days. This year (February 2016) the festival offered more than 780 events, across 16 venues, over 19 days.

High profile comedians who have played at the festival include Jo Brand, Paul Merton, Jack Dee, Barry Cryer, Jimmy Carr, The Mighty Boosh, Dara O' Brian, Simon Pegg, and Harry Hill.

The event features a significant community programme, with a wide range of voluntary and charitable organisations taking part, including BrightSparks Comedy Asylum, Warning Zone, Leicester Charity Link, Gujarati Comedy Group and the Brite Centre. 

The festival also has good links with local schools, colleges and universities including Regent College, Mayflower Primary School and De Montfort University.