DMU Archives and four DMU students short-listed for Leicester Comedy Festival awards

Judges of awards which honour the people and organisations that have contributed to the success of the annual Leicester Comedy Festival have included on their shortlist the DMU Archives team and four DMU students.

The festival was started 30 years ago by Geoff Rowe while he was studying Arts and Festivals Management at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

DMU made a tribute video for Geoff Rowe and 30 years of the comedy fest featuring Katharine Short from DMU Archives

Since then it has gone on to become one of the largest stand-alone comedy festivals in Europe and, this February, there were 630 different events featuring 870 comedians, including big draws such as Stewart Lee, Rosie Jones, Nish Kumar and Seann Walsh plus a separate kids’ comedy fest.

There were also fringe events and community projects covering everything from mental health to campaigns to bring an end to sexual harassment.

DMU has been involved in the festival since its birth through sponsorship, helping in the community with the festival’s charitable arm Big Difference Company, and offering students incredible opportunities to get involved in everything involved in putting on a show including lighting, sound engineering, photography, video, publicity, selling tickets and looking after artists.

This year DMU Archives, which holds documents, programmes, posters, recordings, photos and promotional items from the festival’s 30-year history, has been shortlisted in the category Contribution to LCF 2023.


The DMU team on the comedy festival bus in 1994

While four DMU students – Tilly Maynard and Charlotte Chapman, who study Arts and Festivals Management; Chantelle Small who studies Audio and Recording Technology; Cezara Buburuzanu who studies Photography and Video – have been shortlisted in the Student of the Year category.

The DMU Archive team is made up of Special Collections Manager Katharine Short, Archivist Natalie Hayton and Archives Assistant David Millns.

The collection took on an additional importance for the team this year as it supported and illustrated the 30 years of the festival, including a city centre exhibition which ran throughout February.

Katharine said: “We're thrilled that our work as archivists has been acknowledged by this nomination.

 COMEDY - Stewart Lee 2006 MAIN

Stewart Lee at the festival in 2006

“It shows how important it is to safeguard the materials of history so that they can be used by researchers now and in the future, and how archives can be used in exciting and interesting ways to tell stories and contribute to contemporary events.

“No 'dusty archives' clichés here - our mission is always to get archives out and seen so they can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. 

“The archives of the festival demonstrate how it originated at DMU and has grown to become an event with global reach that's central to the cultural and economic life of Leicester.

“It's a modern example of why DMU's predecessor, the Leicester School of Art was founded: to contribute to the growth and development of the city and train skilled people to work in local industry or business. It's just the type of work people do that has changed!”

The DMU Archives team took in the Leicester Comedy Festival Collection in the summer of 2012.

There were 30 years of documents, programmes, posters, recordings, promotional items and photographs from the festival and its parent organisation Big Difference Company.

Since taking in the collection DMU Archives has been involved in various projects to celebrate and promote the Festival's history, including developing a physical exhibition that was on display in Peter Pizzeria throughout the 2022 Festival, supporting a PhD student who is working on the papers and speaking at Festival fringe events.


Alan Carr at the 2006 comedy festival 

The team is also listing the collection, repackaging it and making it available to researchers.

The Leicester Comedy Festival awards night is on Monday 27 March.

To find out more about DMU Archives visit here

To book an appointment to visit the DMU Archives email



Posted on Friday 24 March 2023

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