Funny Women: 'We're not pay-to-play'

But contest's £15 entry fee stands

Funny Women has defended its decision to charge would-be comedians to take part in its annual competition.

In a blog post on its website today, the organisation insisted: ‘We don’t charge people to perform’.

Yet it is charing a £15 ‘registration fee’ for the third year running, despite widespread industry condemnation of the practice.

The post said the money is ‘ploughed back into the organisation of the competition: paying comperes and venue hire fees, promoting the shows, producing print, regularly updating the website and crucially, being in constant contact with any entrant who wants assistance or advice’. One pound of the fee also goes to charity.

No other significant comedy competition charges an entry fee, whatever venues, comperes and posters they have to pay for.

The post acknowledged there was some backlash over its decision, saying: ‘When we introduced the fee in 2011, we were not aware of the “pay to play” controversy that swept New York and caused such consternation in the live comedy scene. 

‘We were following in the footsteps of other arts based competitions which charge a nominal registration fee to cover some of their administration costs and enlist the commitment of the entrants.. We have never had a complaint from any entrant in the awards about having to pay the small fee.’

The post concluded: ‘There are so many women who are still too nervous to give comedy a go – and we want to make sure that we can help them find their voice through humour. The registration fee helps us to do just that.’

Published: 13 Feb 2013

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