Brighton Festival 2016Counting down to our 50th
Festival this May

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Perform as part of Brighton Festival 2017

We’re looking for 100-125 singers to perform as part of a special inter-choral choir for a large-scale, cross-art outdoor performance, featuring song, dance and physical theatre, as part of Brighton Festival 2017.

Come and lend your voice to a cutting-edge performance installation, celebrating myth, ritual and journeying. The choral music is devised specifically for singers and choirs by composer/arranger, Sam Glazer, and draws inspiration from Faure, Rilke and Ovid as well as beautiful new music specially written for the project.

Singers from all walks of life and levels of musical experience are invited to take part in this event. You can either take part independently, as part of a small group or bring your whole choir along! The music will be learned independently over 5 months (from January - May) and supported by regular rehearsals. We ask you to be available for the majority of the rehearsals and all of the performance dates - please see list below.

All participating singers will have access to rehearsal materials, which contains the score and audio files to support your learning. You do not need to be able to sight-sing or read music to take part, as all the music will be taught aurally at the rehearsals. You do need access to a computer and the internet. The rehearsals will be led by Kirsty Martin, who is Musical Director of Brighton’s Hullabaloo Quire.

The event is completely free to participate in, but we ask you to commit to the project and be available for the majority of the rehearsals and all of the performance dates - please see list below. Venues and times TBC.

Rehearsal Dates: (must be available for the majority of rehearsals)
Tuesday 10 Jan: Introduction session in the evening - come and sample the songs and last chance for people to sign up (final deadline for signing up will be Mon 16 Jan)
Wednesday 1 February, evening
Saturday 25 February, half day
Tuesday 14 March, evening
Tuesday 28 March, evening
Saturday 22 April, half day
Wednesday 10 May, evening
Tuesday 23 May, evening
Wednesday 24 May, evening (final rehearsal)

Performances: (must be available for all performances)
Thursday 25 May, evening
Friday 26 May, evening
Saturday 27 May, evening
Sunday 28 May, evening

For choirs and choir leaders who are interested in taking part please email: kirstymartin@me.com

For individuals, please fill out this form to express your interest by Thu 6 Jan: 
brightonfestival.org/bf17-call-out-for-singers/

50th Brighton Festival named Tourism Event of the Year at The Beautiful South Tourism Awards 2016

Brighton Festival, which marked its 50th year in 2016, was awarded a coveted Gold in the category Tourism Event of the Year at the Beautiful South Awards last night.

Held at the Hilton at the Ageas Bowl, near Southampton, the ceremony saw TV and radio celebrity Toby Anstis celebrating the cream of the region’s tourism industry. Established over 20 years ago, the Beautiful South Awards reward excellence, quality, innovation and customer service.

Considered ‘the defining moment in the Festival year’ (The Guardian), Brighton Festival brings a national and international audience to the city. This year’s milestone 50th edition - with experimental artist and musician Laurie Anderson as Guest Director - was the most successful in its history with more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, and more tickets sold than ever before.

The Festival’s biggest talking point was Nutkhut’s Dr Blighty, an ambitious, large-scale, free immersive, outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums and 14-18 NOW, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during WW1. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty set the city and social media abuzz and drew audiences of almost 65,000 over its five-day run. A video clip of the projections went viral, attracting over 500,000 views and one hashtag alone achieved three million impressions, and accolades such as ‘spectacular’, ‘incredible’, ‘unique’ and ‘best festival event ever’.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “We are so thrilled to have received this Gold award for our milestone 50th Brighton Festival. From the annual Children’s Parade on the opening weekend featuring 5000 participants from schools and community groups from across the region, to the city-wide City Reads and Young City Reads produced in partnership with Collected Works and the incredible response to Nutkhut’s Dr Blighty, it was truly a wonderful celebration of our community. I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience another exciting and innovative month of events next May with the extraordinary Kate Tempest as Guest Director.”

Nigel Smith, Chief Executive of Tourism South East, said, “Achieving excellence isn’t easy – it takes vision, years of commitment, hard work and talented people. All of the finalists can be proud about their achievements and the example they are setting for others to follow. I want to thank headline sponsor Shepherd Neame and the rest of our sponsors who make the Awards possible and the judges who give their time and expertise voluntarily. Sometimes the margin between businesses is tiny and they have the unenviable task of deciding between them.”

Brighton Festival 2017, with the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest as Guest Director, will take place from 6-28 May 2017. The full programme will be unveiled on Wed 15th February 2017.

Brighton Festival 2017 announces Children’s Parade theme

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2017 Children’s Parade, which will take place on Saturday 6 May, is ‘Poetry in Motion’.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky, the annual Children’s Parade officially launches Brighton Festival and has delighted participants and spectators for over 25 years. The largest of its kind in Europe, the parade is attended by almost 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.

With a different imaginative theme each year, previous parades have seen children dress up as everything from letters of the alphabet and Brighton street names to books, mermaids and even slices of cake. In 2016, participants were invited to be part of a major historical milestone as Brighton Festival celebrated its 50th year, taking inspiration from the people, places, ideas and innovations that shape the city’s unique character and identity from the Prince Regent to Fat Boy Slim.

The 2017 theme is inspired by Guest Director Kate Tempest, who was recently unveiled as the latest artistic figure to take up the role of shaping the three-week programme of cultural events. Described by the Guardian as ‘one of the brightest British talents around,’ Tempest’s prolific artistic output across multiple disciplines has attracted her considerable acclaim and a unique range of audiences. Having made her live debut as a spoken-word artist at just 16, Tempest is now equally well-known as a poet, novelist, musician and playwright. In October, she was invited to perform her new album 'Let them Eat Chaos' in full on BBC2 as part of a specially-themed night to celebrate National Poetry Day.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival 2016’s Children & Family programmer says: “We are thrilled with this year's theme and we are really looking forward to seeing the creativity of the teachers and the ingenuity which they bring to this annual celebration.”

One of the most spectacular community events in the UK, Same Sky spends six months working behind the scenes to create the event, with creative teams instructing teaching staff how to teach dance and parade chants, run free masterclasses, help develop design ideas and encourage imagination to flow.

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: “Same Sky is very excited by the 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest and her theme for the parade of children's poems. We are creating a great parade with 70 Brighton & Hove schools to create Poetry in Motion. Each school will illustrate a favourite children's poem and hit the street with dazzling costumes, puppets and sounds. Same Sky once again thanks Brighton Festival for giving us this great opportunity to work with nearly every school in our wonderfully creative city.”

Brighton Festival will take place from 6-28 May 2017. The full programme will be unveiled on 15th February 2017.

Interview: “When you find a piece of artwork on your own terms… that’s when the real magic happens”

We caught up with the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest, recently named as Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director - mid album tour - to find out more about her plans for the role

When you were first approached to be Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017, what was it that prompted you to say yes?
Well, the place that art has in a community is something that I am constantly turning around in my mind because I think it is one of the most important tools that we have for connectivity, for cultivating empathy and a sense of community – it’s a kind of antidote to isolation. For me gathering together to experience artwork is the most important thing that we can do. The most exhilarating moments that have brought me closest to myself and closest to my fellow human beings have been through gathering and watching and feeling and participating in works of art. So, when I was approached by Brighton Festival, the first thing that made me excited about accepting the offer was the possibility of bringing work to people who maybe feel that kind of experience doesn’t belong to them, opening the doors a little bit and just allowing people in.

What are you most looking forward to about the role?
I think the most exciting thing is being able to engage with what it is that makes a piece of work plug you more directly into life. What it is that kind of pulls the ground out from under you then catches you and puts you back on your feet and shows you the universe again. This is the feeling that I have - whether it is from listening to a record or watching a play or whatever it is. And encouraging and cultivating that feeling in everybody, because everybody has this capacity to be connected with this way by literature or music or opera or whatever it is - and just encouraging a celebration of that feeling in a way that isn’t cheesy or patronising. So I’m very excited about trying to encourage the artists that I want to perform here to just run with this idea of being a part of Brighton for these three weeks. And not just Brighton, but also the outlying communities and the neighbourhoods around Brighton – I want to take work outside of the centre of the town and just bring it to people.

You have appeared at Brighton Festival before - what’s been your relationship to the city and the Festival to date? Do you have any particular memories of Brighton and or the Festival?
Yeah - I’ve had a relationship with this place all my life! There was always someone from my family that lived here or close to here. I remember coming here to see gigs when I was younger and getting on the train with pals to come to some of the record stores here. And I had some mates that went to uni here and that were living here and we used to come and party here. As I’ve grown older, getting to play in Brighton Festival was an amazing feeling because Brighton has this reputation as a very open and free thinking town. As a queer woman coming here, the relief that I feel when I step off the train is palpable. It makes me want to cry when I walk around the street and I see loads of women and men and transgender people just holding hands and walking around the street. Honestly I can’t explain the feeling that it gives me, it makes me feel really welcome and safe. So the idea of a liberal town is one thing but actually for me personally to get off the train and walk about and to be like: ‘Wow this is ok, I’m ok here, I’m welcome here you know?’ That is a really important thing.

It's obviously still early days but, what are your aims with Guest Directing Brighton Festival this year?
One of the most important things I want to do is to invite people into spaces they don’t know. I don’t want somebody who’s never seen a classical concert to not go because it is a classical concert and I don’t want someone who only goes to classical concerts to not go and see an incredible contemporary electronic act because they have never done that. I just want to make it a safe space for people to experiment because I think that the minute you give people permission to think of themselves as human beings rather than cleverly bracketed consumers of one particular type of art, then maybe they will have an amazing experience.


Kate Tempest Guest Director Brighton FestivalAre there any particular artists or dream acts on your wish list at the moment?I’ve got very high hopes. I’ve also got ridiculous ideas that are probably never going to be achievable but the Brighton Festival team are amazing at allowing these ideas into the room and then doing everything they absolutely can to make me feel like these goals are achievable goals. I feel very cared for in this place. I feel like it is a really exciting way of thinking about what I want to present and how I want to present it. And also the idea that this is a collaboration - that I am guest directing and I am here as part of something that already exists.

You are following the footsteps of the likes of Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno in taking on the role of Guest Director. How does it feel to taking on the baton from such company?
It feels great! I really really love both of those artists and in fact Laurie Anderson particularly I think the world of. I think that you can either be cowed by following in the footsteps of big celebrated artists or you can be extremely humbled by it and just recognise that this is an opportunity to do something really great that could honour all the influences that I’ve had from people like them. And I think that goes for everyone in lots of different ways so I try and just think of it in a very humble way and think: ‘Oh I can’t wait to just see what I can get done’.

You will actually be the youngest Guest Director of Brighton Festival to date. What do you think your perspective will bring to the role?
I want to programme some different kinds of things; I think it’s important for me that we bring in younger people. But I suppose my age is kind of beside the point. The idea is beyond age actually. It’s more about allowing and inviting people to connect with a piece of work that they might never have imagined was going to reach them because in that moment that’s when life-changing moments happen. With art that’s when the exciting thing happens, when suddenly you find something on your own terms, that hasn’t been forced down your throat that you haven’t been told that you’re not going to understand. When you find a piece of work on your own terms that way, that’s when the real magic happens.

Your own work straddles many art forms and a unique range of audiences. What drives you to experiment in this way?
I just follow the ideas. I think that the more we try and isolate and bracket ourselves, the less clearly we can negotiate where our ideas, are leading us to. This idea that anybody can be easily understandable by placing a convenient bracket around them, is actually a particularly British idea, and it’s just not workable for me, it doesn’t make any sense. I am in love with language and lyricism - this is my first love - but if I had stopped there then I wouldn’t have been being true to everything that lyricism taught me which is about pushing and understanding and just trying to cultivate new skills.

Kate Tempest Brighton Festival

Do you think that kind of cross art form approach is something you can uniquely explore at arts festivals?
Well especially Brighton Festival because it is everything - you’re programming everything so you have this opportunity to bring people in and break down some of those boundaries. So I am really excited about it. This whole thing about high and low art or divisions between different forms - it’s all nonsense, and the minute you allow yourself to see through that nonsense the closer you can get to your experience of art as a human being - doing the thing that makes us the most human in my opinion. Because the way the world feels is very inhuman, everything is synthetic - it doesn’t feel real. And then you get this opportunity to experience poetry or music or rapping and rhyming or watching an orchestra - whatever it is - there is this connection to humanity that is much broader and bigger than, ‘I am a poet and I deal with spoken word.’

And finally, recent political events such as the Brexit vote seem to have highlighted divisions between generations and society more than ever before. How do you feel about the vote personally, and how do you think the arts can help us understand and challenge the world today?
Well, I think that the purpose and the point of art is uniquely cultivating empathy and in creating community, because we are isolated - we are divided from ourselves primarily and so from each other. And, because of these divisions, it is very difficult for us to engage with any sense of community or nationhood or pride in our communities. I think it’s more important for me to talk about what joins us than what divides us. Politics is all about which side of an argument you stand on so that means that somebody is always right and somebody is always wrong, but actually the things that connect us become more important when there is so much to divide us. And, in the face of rising nationalism and all these kind of faceless fears about others that seem to be rearing their heads, it becomes more important than ever that we remind ourselves that there is no ‘other’, it doesn’t exist. And the only thing that can really, really make that tangible, I think, for me anyway is music, literature, poetry - these things that bring us together to experience something together which is not about saying anybody is right or wrong.

Kate Tempest is Guest director of Brighton Festival 2017. Her album, Let Them Eat Chaos is out now. Enjoy the trailer...

Brighton Festival names Kate Tempest as Guest Director 2017

We are delighted to announce that the Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017 is the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest

Described by The Guardian as ‘one of the brightest British talents around,' Tempest’s prolific artistic output across multiple disciplines has attracted her considerable acclaim and a unique range of audiences. Having made her live debut as a spoken-word artist at just sixteen, Tempest initially conceived of herself as a rapper, however she is now equally at home as a poet, novelist, musician and playwright - garnering extraordinary success in each field.

In 2012 her debut play Wasted (Brighton Festival 2012) was praised as ‘electrifying’ and ‘ingenious’; a year later her self-performed epic narrative poem Brand New Ancients won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and completed a sell-out run in the UK and New York, winning a Herald Angel at Edinburgh Fringe. In 2014, her debut solo album Everybody Down was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize while the same year she was named one of 20 Next Generation poets by the Poetry Book Society, a prestigious list picked just once per decade. Most recently her debut novel The Bricks That Built the Houses has earned her yet more accolades and a slot on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. In October her highly anticipated new album Let Them Eat Chaos will be released through Fiction Records featuring new single Don’t Fall In.

At 31, Kate Tempest will be the youngest Brighton Festival Guest Director to date, taking the mantle from pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who led the 50th Brighton Festival this year. Other previous Guest Directors include visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010) and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011) who have all taken turns shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Kate Tempest says: 

"The arts should be social, not elitist. They should be part of our everyday life. They should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes. Music, literature, theatre, film - these things are so important, they bring us together into the same space, they give us ourselves, they bring us to life, they beam our humanity back to us in all its hideous beauty. And in these times, with the fear spreading everywhere and the divisions between us deepening daily, we desperately need to remember that we are all part of the same thing. Nothing does that for me more profoundly or joyously than standing in the crowd watching a gig, or a play, or a painting. It’s like a little victory you get to keep forever. I want us to offer that experience to everyone.”

Tempest’s appointment as Guest Director follows a number of successful appearances at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. After her acclaimed play Wasted sold out Brighton Festival 2012, Tempest performed Brand New Ancients to two full houses in the Corn Exchange as part of Brighton Dome’s spring 2014 programme. In 2015 she headlined an exclusive Brighton Festival event alongside fellow wordsmiths George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “We are privileged to announce such a distinctive and singular talent as our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017. Kate Tempest is uniquely positioned to fulfil the role – her seemingly limitless creativity has led to a body of work that straddles an extraordinary array of art forms and has earned her fans of all ages and from all walks of life. She is also passionate about the arts and its power to bring communities together – vital now more than ever. I can’t wait to continue the conversations with her as we work towards creating a Festival for next year which I hope will be a true inspiration to all.”

In 2016 Brighton Festival celebrated its 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture. With a total audience reach of over 225,000, the milestone programme was the most successful in its history with more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, and more tickets sold than ever before. The Festival’s biggest talking point was Nutkhut’s Dr Blighty, an ambitious, large-scale, immersive, outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums and 14-18 NOW, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during WW1. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty set the city and social media abuzz and drew audiences of almost 65,000 over its five day run.

Brighton Festival 2017 - which will take place from 6-28 May 2017 - will feature exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies. 

Full programme announced: Wed 15 Feb 2017
Members' priority booking: Thu 16 Feb 2017
General booking opens: Fri 24 Feb 2017

Photo by Hayley Louisa Brown

Video: Full Dr Blighty projections

One of the 50th Brighton Festival’s biggest talking points was Nutkhut's Dr Blighty; an ambitious, large-scale, immersive outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during the First World War. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty captivated audiences and critics alike. With audiences reaching almost 50,000 over its five day run, it set the city and social media abuzz.

Podcast: Artificial Intelligence, augmented reality and the future of gaming

Brighton Festival 2016 saw us work with Guardian Live in a special partnership to deliver the Books and Debate programme with an impressive line-up of writers and commentators including former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, Orange prize winner Lionel Shriver and two Booker prize winners, Marlon James and Howard Jacobson. 

AI, augmented reality and the future of gaming saw games editor Keith Stuart ask a panel of designers and programmers what the advances in artificial intelligence mean for games and the people who play them? If you missed out on the live event or you'd like to experience it all over again you can  listen to a new  podcast of the discussion which has just been published on the Guardian Live website.

The success of Pokémon Go suggests that augmented reality (AR) games will be big business. Already games like Minecraft can create new landscapes every time you play, while advances in artificial intelligence may lead to computer-controlled characters that can build new stories and activities based on player preferences. 

What are the ethical and legal ramifications of AI as it deepens its involvement with people? Could virtual reality gaming ever become like The Matrix? Guardian games editor Keith Stuart talks to a panel of designers and programmers about the strange future of games and their makers.

Listen to the full podcast here


Look back over Brighton Festival 2016 Highlights

Re-live some of the highlights of the milestone 50th Brighton Festival - with pioneering artist Laurie Anderson as Guest Director including the UK premiere of Anderson's Concert for Dogs, Lou Reed's Drones, Floating Points, Laura Mvula and more.

Digging for Shakespeare cast to go under the hammer

The knitted cast of Brighton Festival 2016 commission Digging for Shakespeare are to go under the hammer as part of the Big Heart Auction next month, a partnership between Brighton Dome and Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice, which aims to raise valuable funds for the two organisations.

The twelve Shakespearean characters were immortalised in wool by Welsh knitter Annie Hardy as part of the acclaimed theatrical production which made its world premiere at the 50th edition of Brighton Festival in May. Devised by artist Marc Rees, Digging for Shakespeare took as its subject eccentric Brighton character James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, a 19th-century joker and world-renowned Shakespearean scholar who lived on the outskirts of Brighton. There in his 'rustic wigwam' (a series of conjoined sheds), he obsessively curated a huge hoard of Shakespearean rarities.

The unique promenade performance took place in the Roedale Allotments, close to the site of the eccentric recluse's former home, and imaginatively involved allotmenteers, the Hollingbury Park Bowls Club and a group of young performers. Audience members explored sheds and hideaways, discovered the Shakespearean characters reborn in knitted form along with quotes featuring herbs and plants from each of the twelve Shakespeare plays, and gathered a wealth of horticultural tips along the way.

Ahead of the auction, the knitted characters will be on display as part of a special free exhibition dedicated to Digging for Shakespeare in Brighton Dome’s Founders Room from 17 to 27 June. Also on show is artwork by graffiti artist Pure Evil which was also commissioned to feature on two specially-built sheds which journeyed through the allotments with the audience.

The individual knitted characters and artworks by Pure Evil will then be auctioned at the Big Heart Auction from 1 to 10 July. For more information please visit www.bigheartauction.org.uk.

All artworks for sale as part of the Big Heart Auction will also be on show at Brighton Dome from 1 – 5 July.

Marc Rees said: 'It's fantastic that the dozen characters can be included in the auction. Annie Hardy spent between 30- 50 hours lovingly creating each figure and all from her vivid imagination too- no pattern, just free form which I think is incredible! They were such an integral part of ‘Digging For Shakespeare’ and everyone wanted to know who made them. It's great to see the figures all together as one family in the exhibition, they are very special and deserve a special home.'

See Brighton Festival Commissions on Tour

This Festival boasted 54 commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres. We're pleased that some of our commissions and co-commissions continue to tour. Discover a bit more about these shows and find out where they are on next...

Minefield
'Extraordinary piece of memory theatre' ★★★★★ The Stage



See it next: 2 to 11 Jun – Royal Court Theater, LIFT FESTIVAL, London
15 & 16 Jun – Theaterformen Festival, Braunschweig

Stella
'Stella is one of the most important pieces to come out of Bartlett's long relationship with Brighton Festival.' Whats On Stage 


See it next: 1 to 18 Jun – Hoxton Hall, LIFT FESTIVAL, London

The Complete Deaths
'brilliantly ridiculous’  The Stage


See all the many tour dates here.