Burlesque grant may be a ‘first’

Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival organisers Heidi Bang Tidy, left, and Lady Wildflower. Photo by Anita Watson
Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival organisers Heidi Bang Tidy, left, and Lady Wildflower. Photo by Anita Watson

Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival (HBBF) has announced it has been successful in a bid to secure funding from Arts Council England.

It is believed to be the first time that ACE has contributed to an event of this kind, and the grant will be used to fund this year’s festival which will be held over the weekend of April 28-May 1.

The festival was launched in 2013 by burlesque performers and producers Heidi Bang Tidy and Lady Wildflower and has become the burlesque festival to see and be seen at in the UK. This year’s event sees a number of British and international stars, including Perle Noire.

Venues include Hebden Bridge Little Theatre, the Birchcliffe Centre, Hebden Bridge, and Todmorden Town Hall, while Salem Community Centre, Hebden Bridge, Calderdale Yoga Centre, Hebden Bridge, and Ribbon Circus, Hebden Bridge, will all host workshops.

“We spent the first three years of the festival working hard to establish our reputation,” said Heidi Bang Tidy, “but it was always our plan to use that as a platform to do more innovative programming, particularly in terms of highlighting and showcasing diversity within burlesque. One of the main reasons we launched the festival was because we wanted to reach new audiences and promote the fact that burlesque is a progressive and inclusive art form.”

Lady Wildflower added: “Getting this funding is a massive deal for us, it has allowed us to fund four new shows this year and fly in international headliner Perle Noire. To our knowledge, we are the first festival dedicated exclusively to burlesque to receive Arts Council support and we are delighted that we are leading the field in that regard. It’s like a stamp of approval.

“It is also one in the eye for the vocal objectors who have spent the last three years attacking burlesque, saying that it is ‘demeaning to women’.”

Heidi Bang Tidy said: “We had come to a place with the festival where we had grown it as much as we were able by self-funding the activity and relying on sponsors and sell out shows in order to break even. This funding has basically secured the future of the festival by enabling us to stage this year’s event with less concern for commercial success and a greater focus on artistic quality.”