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DMU students helping to run the show at Leicester Comedy Festival

Students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are ready to rise to the challenge of managing venues at the UK’s largest and longest-running comedy festival.

ARTSFESTMAN - picture one

Students Shay Sobers, Danni Malyon, Jemma Sibley, Emily Rance and Anna Deber-Roberts with course leader Tony Graves (centre)

The first-year Arts & Festivals Management students will be at the helm of two city-centre venues throughout the 19-day Leicester Comedy Festival.

The group of 35 students will work in small teams at Peter’s Pizzeria, Welford Place, and Cosy Club, Highcross Street. This will include running the box office, looking after front of house, artist liaison and ensuring the venue’s health and safety.

They are looking forward to reaping the benefits of the high-profile industry experience while working with popular comedians such as Zoe Lyons, Flo & Joan and Alasdair Beckett-King.

The students will work day and night to cover festival events at the venues, which will give them crucial employability skills for their future careers.

Anna Deber-Roberts, 20, said: “It’s an amazing opportunity for us all. We are only first-year students and we are already being given professional experience.

“It’s very hands-on experience and will be great for our careers in arts and festival management.

“I don’t know of any other university that offers this kind of experience.”

She added: “It’s going to be exciting but very tiring so I’m getting in lots of early nights before things get going.”

Jemma Sibley, 18, said: “It’s going to be scary at first, but we need to overcome our fears to offer a professional service.

“We’ll be building on our people skills and we’ll get the chance to make a lot of key contacts and forge relationships in the industry. There are going to be so many benefits.”


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The organisers have handed over the reins to the students as part of a unique partnership between DMU and the comedy festival, which was set up by DMU students as part of their course 25 years ago.

Director Geoff Rowe, festival producer Sam Javid and special events assistant Charlotte Laidet recently visited students to talk them through the ropes.

The students have also been busy promoting the venue’s comedy gigs. They have been distributing posters and flyers across the city, using Facebook to drum up ticket sales and generating online content.

They will also be involved in evaluating each comedy event by encouraging the audience to fill in feedback forms.

Shay Sobers, 21, said: “It’s been great to meet the organisers, it now feels really real and we are ready to go.

“I’m looking forward to putting our team work to the test. We’ll have to work closely with each other and rely on each other’s skills.”

Tony Graves, Head of Arts and Festival Management, said the comedy festival experience had been an assessed part of the degree course for the last seven years.

He said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity. I don’t know of any other course that offers such practical and high-profile industry experience.

“The students will be running two of the venues at the Comedy Festival. They will have to consider everything that goes on behind-the-scenes, including technical and artist requirements. They will be in charge of the whole works.

“This is as close to a being a venue manager than they can get. It’s a big responsibility and I’m sure they’ll do us proud.”

Tickets for the Leicester Comedy Festival are on sale at or by calling 0116 456 6812.

DMU is the Leicester Comedy Festival Higher Education Partner.

Posted on Tuesday 30th January 2018

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