Organisers of the annual Leicester Comedy Festival are seeking views and ideas from members of the public about the future of the event.  The festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary in February 2018 and organisers are developing a plan for the longer term future of the event.  The public meeting is being organised alongside other meetings for performers, promoters, venues and local businesses who support the festival.  The meeting for members of the public to attend is taking place on Thursday 25th May at 6.30pm and will be held at Curve, Leicester.  Anyone wanting to attend needs to register in advance by contacting beth@bigdifferencecompany.co.uk

Leicester Comedy Festival is one of the longest running, independent festivals in the UK, having taken place every February since 1994.  The festival has grown massively in size and now regularly attracts some of the biggest names in comedy to venues across Leicester & Leicestershire.  The programme also includes hundreds of “up & coming” comedians as well as many community events and organisations who get involved.  In 2017, over 800 events took place in 64 venues across 19 days and over 115,000 people attended.

There is huge support for the festival from members of the public who attend events and shows each February.  Additional support is also provided from people who get involved as volunteers, suggest venues and ways in which the festival can grow.  People provide feedback each year, increasingly via social media, and organisers always try and take on board comments and suggestions.  This is the first time organisers have hosted a series of public meetings to consult with people who support the festival and the meeting will be a chance for organisers to share more detail about how the festival is organised, and some of the challenges faced each year to ensure a successful event is put on.

Festival founder and director, Geoff Rowe said “The festival has grown and grown over the last 25 years and we are massively proud of what we have achieved.  Over the years the festival has made changes to ensure it continues to be relevant to members of the public, by introducing new special events and projects.  It feels right that whilst we are planning to celebrate our 25th anniversary in style, we also look to the future and we want to consult with members of the public who attend shows and support the festival about ways we can help ensure the festival continues to develop.

The festival is organised by a relatively small charity based in Leicester and is a not for profit activity.  Most people will know the pressures on small cultural organisations in terms of securing funding and sponsorship and we want to think creatively about ways we can sustain the festival for the long term.  This public meeting is not necessarily about raising money; it is about talking to fans of the festival to share more information about how the festival is organised and how we might continue to evolve things to help ensure the event is still here for the next 25 years.”

The festival is regularly funded by Leicester City Council and additional support is provided by local sponsors including De Montfort University, Reach Marketing, East Midlands Trains, Everards Brewery, Shakespeare Martineau and Sturgess of Leicester.  The festival also has a Business Partners Club which has over 35 members who support the event and get involved.

The organisation behind the festival is Leicester based charity Big Difference Company, which employs a small number of people.  The festival is organised as a non-profit making project and all the money raised goes back into sustaining the annual event and other community based projects.  In addition to the festival, Big Difference Company produce work which uses comedy & humour to improve the health and wellbeing of children and older people.  A recent project has focused on improving the lives of people living with dementia.

Leicester Comedy Festival 2018 will take place from the 7-25 February.

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