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Big Difference Company announces new leadership team

Successors have been appointed for outgoing Comedy Festival founder and charity CEO.

Michael Harris-Wakelam (left) with Stewart Lee and Eshaan Akbar at the Leicester Comedy Festival Awards 2022.
(L to R) Michael Harris-Wakelam, Stewart Lee and Eshaan Akbar at Leicester Comedy Festival Awards 2022

This year marks a key change for the company behind Leicester Comedy Festival. Current CEO Laura Arends and Founder Geoff Rowe are stepping down.

Big Difference Company has announced it's new leadership team that will take charge following its Leicester Comedy Festival events this year.

Joining the company as CEO will be Michael Harris-Wakelam, who is currently Theatre and Events Manager at Leicester's Y Theatre.

"I am thrilled to be joining Big Difference Company at what is such an exciting time for everyone involved," said Michael.

"The opportunity to become custodian of such an important part of the UK’s arts and live entertainment scene with Leicester Comedy Festival, The UK Kids Comedy Festival and the year round programme of events at The Big Difference venue was a prospect that I was immediately drawn to.

"I look forward to continuing to build on the legacy left by my predecessors, and further establishing the hard work they have already done to become such an integral part of the local community and national platform we provide for new and emerging talent to thrive."

Working alongside Michael as Festivals and Programme Director will be Charlotte Laidet. She's currently Senior Producer at Big Difference, having joined the company in 2017.

Charlotte Laidet - current Senior Producer for Leicester Comedy Festival - has been promoted.
Charlotte Laidet

Charlotte said: "Having joined the Leicester Comedy Festival family five years ago, I am extremely pleased to have been chosen and trusted with this role.

"Maintaining the legacy of 30 years of Leicester Comedy Festival is a big challenge that I am excited to be a part of. I am looking forward to working with Michael and the team on this new chapter for Big Difference and the festivals."

Jonathan Kerry, Chair of Trustees for Big Difference, said: "Michael and Charlotte bring huge experience to these roles and I am excitedly looking forward to the future.

"As we celebrate 30 years of Leicester Comedy Festival, as well everything else that Big Difference Company has achieved up to now, we can look forward to the future with confidence and eager expectation of even more good (and funny) things to come!"


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