A NEW Bradford comedy festival is planned for this summer.

Bradford Fringe is being developed with Women's Comedy Workshop, but is for male and female comics. It is aimed at showcasing local talent and encouraging people to use city centre venues.

Laura Brooks, one of the festival organisers, said: "There have been some amazing female comics performing with the Women's Comedy Workshop over the past two years. Last Friday our 'Not An Open Mic Night' at Theatre In The Mill was a sell-out and afterwards we said: 'Where can we perform again?' We want to take our comedy into Bradford's clubs and pubs but there are no comedy festivals or open mic nights in the city centre - so we decided to set up our own."

Laura worked on Bradford's Women of the World (WOW) Festival in 2017 and helped set up Speakers Corner in Ivegate, one of the venues to be used for Bradford Fringe. "We've contacted venues like Brick Box Rooms, Bread and Roses Cafe and Delius Arts and Cultural Centre. We'll be holding pop-up events too," said Laura. "It will take place the same time as Bradford Literature Festival - we want to encourage people to stay in the city centre after they've been to Literature Festival events. It's a great opportunity to get people into city venues."

Laura said the festival will bring together various art forms. "It's not just comedy; we hope to run a lip-sync night, a storytelling session and a a youth comedy event. We want different artists' mediums," she said. "The idea is to promote Bradford talent; even if you've never tried stand-up, come along and give it a go, or do some poetry or spoken word. We're comics who all started out in a workshop, we didn't go to stage school.

"We're all volunteers and we're looking into various fundraising options. If people struggle to get into the city centre, we can look into helping out with bus fares."

Anyone interested in getting involved with the festival, as a performer or volunteer behind the scenes, is invited to an event at Speakers Corner on Sunday, April 28 at 3pm. "We really want Bradford people to get involved with this," said Laura. "We hope to come up with some ideas then put together a programme of events that will last the whole summer. The festival will start in early June."

She added: "Bradford Literature Festival started as a small event, over a weekend, and look at how big it has become. We're very inspired by that. If Bradford Fringe is a success we would love it to become an annual event here in the city."

* For more information email bradfordfringe@gmail.com or go to Bradford Fringe at Facebook.