Hassocks comedian Stephen Grant ‘hugely relieved’ after company gets £28k arts grant
Hassocks comedian Stephen Grant has welcomed new funding for the arts in Mid Sussex from the Culture Recovery Fund.
Stephen, 47, is the director of Annephen Ltd in Hassocks, which has been awarded £28,193 from the government’s scheme to help cultural organisations recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company has been arranging and promoting comedy events in Sussex for 22 years, said Stephen.
“We’re hugely relieved because it makes a big difference to whether we can plan for the future,” he said.
Stephen added that getting the grant was ‘monumental’ because he and the Live Comedy Association have argued for years that Arts Council England should recognise comedy as an art form.
“This grant is not only a vindication of what my company does and how important it’s been to comedy around Sussex, but its also about how comedy has finally been recognised as art,” he said.
Stephen is now ready to run a series of outdoor comedy nights at the Hassocks Hotel once pub gardens are allowed to reopen on April 12.
“We get national level comedians down,” said Stephen, adding that last year they had popular acts like Romesh Ranganathan, Joel Dommett and Stephen K. Amos performing.
“I’ve worked in comedy for over two decades so I pulled in every favour under the sun to get people down here,” he added.
“We had people like Marcus Brigstocke, Rachel Parris and Milton Jones walking on stage,” said Stephen.
“We’ve been able to get some of the absolute best of the world’s comedy talents down to Hassocks and this money will allow me to do it again.”
Russell Kane will perform at the venue on April 16-17 and Seann Walsh is booked for April 18.
Visit the event’s Facebook page to find out who else is performing.
Stephen said the funding will help his company cover the ‘enormous’ costs of running a show like this during the pandemic.
“To do events now takes five or six people,” he said, adding that they need a safety officer, people to sanitise everything and a marshall to make sure audience members don’t move their chairs too close together.
“Social distancing is so hard for entertainment,” Stephen said, adding that government support has saved live comedy from being killed off entirely.
“The tours have been cancelled, the live comedy events have gone, professional comedians who have been working for decades have got jobs in supermarkets,” he said.
But Stephen is hopeful that live comedy can return as the situation gets safer and people become more confident about going to shows.
“My plan is to try and keep live entertainment going,” he said.
“We’ll try to build on the goodwill that we gained during the pandemic by putting events on when it was financially ludicrous, and also to get people’s confidence back that these events are safe and worth going to.”
Theatres, cinemas and cultural organisations in Mid Sussex are being awarded thousands from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
The £1.57 billion scheme aims to help arts and entertainment groups recover and help venues reopen after the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to close.
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