Leicester Comedy Festival has been going since 1994.
Big Difference Company has today announced that Geoff Rowe, the Founding Director of Leicester Comedy Festival & The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival, is to step down from the Festival after they have finished in February 2023.
On announcing the departure Geoff Rowe said: “I have had the most amazing time over the years, and the incredible privilege of working with some fantastic comedians, and people from the UK live comedy sector.
"I'm really proud of the community we have developed, of people who love British comedy and work so hard each February to deliver our festivals."
Leicester Comedy Festival is Europe’s biggest comedy festival and this year’s event saw over 800 performances from comedians including Pam Ayres, Rosie Jones, Ria Lina, Stewart Lee, Chris McCausland, Nabil Abdulrashid, Katherine Ryan and Henning Wehn.
Martyn Allison, Chair of the Trustees said: “Both the city and the wider UK comedy community can be justifiably proud of what Geoff has achieved over the last thirty years and the legacy he has created but we always knew that at some stage Geoff would want to step down and move on and we have been planning for a sustainable and exciting future with the appointment of Laura Arends as our new Chief Executive and new projects including our own venue, The Big Difference.
"We are pleased Geoff will be around to help us celebrate 30 years in style and we wish him luck in whatever he chooses to do next.”
Geoff, and his student year-group, set up the annual event in 1994, when they were studying Arts Management at De Montfort University.
Over the years, the comedy festival has hosted thousands of comedians performing to audiences from across the country and the 19-day festival has grown to become one of the longest-running independent festivals in the UK.
I has had a major impact on the economic and cultural life of Leicester and Leicestershire as a whole.
Geoff added: "The last few years have been enormously difficult since the pandemic hit, and I’ve been blown away with the support we have received. However, after 30 years of Leicester Comedy Festival, and five years of The UK Kids’ Comedy Festival, I think it’s time for me to leave the stage, and hand the microphone over to the team and trustees of Big Difference."
"I’m not going anywhere just yet, and am so looking forward to helping put together the programmes for February 2023," Geoff said. "I’m sure there will be the usual mix of big names, special events, and community projects, which will help us celebrate the landmark year.
"I do have some specific ideas for events to help mark the birthdays, but we need a bit more time before we can announce these. Thirty years is a long time to sustain and develop an independent festival – there aren’t many like us in the UK.
"I hope I get a chance to thank everyone who has played their part before I take my final bow. I’m very much looking forward to new adventures in the future.”
Written by Kerry Smith
Kerry is editor of Cross Production's Niche Magazine in Leicester and has a degree in film and journalism. She writes about business news, local people, entertainment, and has a particular interest in theatre.