VIDEO: 'The arts should be in our communities’
Brighton Festival 2017 reached more new audiences and more parts of the city than ever before. We shone a light on some of this year’s flagship community events and projects
Reflecting Guest Director Kate Tempest's belief that: ‘The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes’, events took place across the city - from the South Downs to Brighton Marina to Woodvale cemetery - drawing a ticketed audience of over 81,000, the largest ever in the Festival’s 51-year-history.
In this film we shine a light on some of this year’s flagship events and projects including new ventures The Storytelling Army, which saw a dynamic collective of storytellers from all walks of life pop up in locations from bus stops to Brighton pier; and Your Place, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, which brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities Festival artists and local residents to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities.
Eddie Otchere's Brighton Festival photo picks
Acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere immersed himself in the city during this year’s Brighton Festival, soaking up the atmosphere, camera always in hand. Eddie facilitated workshops at Your Place in Hangleton and East Brighton and set up The Bright Room – a community darkroom. Here he picks out some of his favourite contact sheets from across the Festival period.
‘It’s not the final image that makes the photographer, it’s the contact sheet itself that makes the experience’
Brighton & Hove Albion promotion parade taken by Eddie Otchere: I was walking down the street and I realised Brighton was having a parade. The turn-out and the level of production and the effort they put in to throw that party was ridiculous. It’s a reflection of the Brighton that I have come to know; a positive reflection of humanity, the way you celebrate your team graduating to the Premier League. Crystal Palace is my local team, and we don’t do this.
Your Place East Brighton taken by Eddie Otchere: I had done my workshop in the morning, and then took a walk to the Crew Club. There was a soundcheck in progress with the Guest Director Kate Tempest. There was a great rapport between Kate and the staff. It’s a wonderful example of how free they felt in Brighton. This contact sheet symbolises that level of freedom and how good they felt. When you come to Brighton, you put aside your London angst. The Kate that the people of Brighton saw was something unique to Brighton.
Your Place Hangleton, Culture Clash taken by Eddie Otchere: Poets vs MCs vs Comedians - that’s one of the best ideas I have heard in my life. They all share a similar kind of skill but they are very different. It’s a reflection of Hangleton and the talent which was pulled together to make that event happen. What an amazing community centre Hangleton has, the energy in that particular environment. This contact sheet also shows how Kate Tempest is as much in the audience as she is on stage.
Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This contact sheet sums up the experience that most people would have had in terms of a learning experience. There are all the classic subjects, dogs, people smiling, Bart Simpson graffiti. It reflects the idea that participants walk away with a camera and just shoot their environment. The money shot is an old man with a pocket watch, which made it into The Bright Room exhibition. It’s a beautiful piece of photography.
Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This person was very geometric in their taste. In that way photography is very democratic, everyone has their own taste. I think this person got a lot out of the visual investigation. Black and white film is perfect for this as it is all about shape and texture.
Taken by a Bright Room workshop participant: This person was my assistant at the Hangleton workshop and then came along to The Bright Room workshops and brought her brother (who appears in the contact sheet). It is the people of Brighton experiencing the Brighton that they know. I understand how people can over-think photography because it is an artform, but I think, at it’s best, photography is an example of a moment in time. This person used the camera I used for shooting metal heads and Goldie in the ‘90s. It had a setting that meant it shoots multiple exposures when the shutter button is held down, hence the repetition.
Walking through Brighton by Eddie Otchere: This must have been the second to last day of The Bright Room workshops. I was walking by the sea to The Bright Room. It’s that thing of being in Brighton and bumping into people. These are pictures from that walk. Once you get by the sea you start to realise how magical that sea is. I think that was the most relaxing shoot I did. It is a record of what it was like for me every morning on my route to work. To a great extent it probably sums up my Brighton experience.
Find out more about Eddie Otchere and the philosophy behind The Bright Room.
Introducing the Lulu.com short story competition winners
Here we meet the four winners of the short story writing competition run by Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army.
They will have their stories combined with stories from the Storytelling Army into the Everyday Epic anthology, which is to be published by Lulu.com.
Beki Turner - Together We Can
I live in Brighton with my daughter Rosie and my dog Frankie, and I have been here since 1999, moving impulsively from London after ending up at a party in the basement of a record shop.
Brighton is a very special and magical place, and it felt right to base my story here. I wanted to highlight the subject of loneliness, and how people of all ages can be isolated and lonely for a number of reasons. I’ve worked extensively with homeless individuals and quite vulnerable adults over the years.
Everyone has a reason for ending up in Brighton, and sometimes people get lost along the way. I wanted to show how kindness and coincidence can bring people together and change lives, and how people coming together can be really powerful.
Perhaps the characters in my story will be developed in the future because they all have a story to tell and have the potential to help each other.
I have always loved writing fiction as a hobby and promised myself that if I was one of the winners of the competition, I’d start taking it seriously.
Extract from Together We Can:
'Gav is drunk. You can see it in his ordinarily militant body; His usual brash march is more of a meaningful flounder as he meanders across the pebbles. Gav opts for an unnecessarily loud exit from the blaring serenity of Brighton beach, striding past the bank holiday families with their middle class picnics, and the hipsters with their disposable barbeques bought with their disposable incomes. They are all being circled and Gav ruffles the seagulls’ feathers as he strides noisily past them.
Tourists and locals huddle around tables, drinking premium beer from flimsy cups as the sun starts to set. Gav turns back to look at the glitter bomb ocean. The sky is as beautiful as a Bierstadt. Gav breathes in the wafts of charred meat, cigarette smoke, aftershave and salt. He listens to the voices shouting over the deafening base lines and the sirens overhead. He pulls his last can of lager out of his pocket. It’s still perfectly cold. He holds the can for a moment, feeling it penetrate his hands and enjoying the sensation. He cracks it open and takes a swig. The beer simmers in his mouth and the taste is wondrous. And at that exact moment, Gav knows it’s a good time to die.'
David Benedictus - Protected Housing
I am 79 and I am a theatre director and writer. I have written lots of stuff – too much really – and published about 15-20 novels from The Fourth of June (1962), a scurrilous book about Eton, to Return to the Hundred Acre Wood (2009) an authorised sequel to the Winnie-the-Pooh books.
I am a member of Nightwriters, the writers club in Brighton. My second published novel, You’re a Big Boy Now (1963) was filmed by the (very) young Francis Ford Coppola in New York. I worked for the BBC on many occasions and was commissioning editor for drama series at Channel 4 from 1984-1986. I was a London tour guide and ran a horse-race tipping service for 25 years. The Daily Mail said I was going to marry Princess Anne , but I didn’t. At the BBC I initiated the programme Something Understood.
I have 4 children, a QC, a novelist, a psychotherapist and a theatrical producer. They are amazing. I have also written a number of musicals, one of which was started in 1955 and is still awaiting a full production
I don’t know where the idea for Protected Housing came from but with just a few hours to go before the deadline I thought I ought to do something and this is what emerged. It’s not like anything I have written before and although it would benefit from a second draft I like its poignant atmosphere.
Extract from Protected Housing:
‘It really was the most marvellous garden,’ she said. ’Not that I had anything to compare it with.’
He tried to recall it. ‘It smelled so beautiful. No chemicals of course then, and it rained only when you needed it. I remember a tree,’ he said. ‘Because I used to sit in the shade and make up names for things. Then you came along, and you thought of miraculous names. Like Flutterby.’
‘You improved on that one.’ She smiled. Although her skin was so wrinkled these days, she retained a smile to charm the birds out of the trees. They seldom spoke of those days because they seemed not only to belong to a different age but to two different people entirely.
‘Would you like to go back?’
‘Well, we couldn’t, could we? For one thing, we’d never find it.’
Jenny Gaitskell - On the Threshold
My default state is daydreaming, and some days I have to go to work and pretend to be sensible, but I write stories whenever possible. While I’m writing, I can go to places I’ll never see, travel in time, meet impossible strangers and be somebody else for a while. When the stories are published, my hope is that readers will imagine something new too. I blog about daydreaming, my creative brain (who calls herself Gonzo) and the unexpected encounters which inspire me. If that sounds like fun, have a look on jennygaitskell.com, or come and say hello on twitter @jennygaitskell.
When I wrote , I’d woken up into one of those mornings when everything feels impossible, even making stuff up. Under those circumstances, obviously the best thing to do was mess about on the internet, and that’s how I found the theme for this anthology, Everyday Epics. Yup, I thought, each day’s a toughie. My page was blank and my mind was blank, except for a woman stuck behind a door. I asked myself, if she could only make herself take that first step, out into the world, what might she try next?
Extract from On the Threshold:
'On the threshold, Emily told herself: you can become the version of you that’s needed, send another letter, take one more step forward. She took it, and closed her front door quietly behind her, for the sake of neighbours who’d never noticed her. Once again, the street smelled of last night but the sky was pink with possibility. Passing across the square, she recognised, from identical mornings, another early riser. He didn’t see her smile, was too busy examining the inside of his frown. There is always tomorrow, she thought. She was right on time for the park, and ready for the dog walker’s half-hearted salute, which might really be no more than a shaking of the leash. She threw her first ever greeting, but it fell short. The walker didn’t turn to pick it up, didn’t wait to see what might happen next. But a word had been spoken, and that was better than yesterday.'
Saba Sams - Nice Light
Saba Sams just graduated from the University of Manchester with a first class degree in English Literature with Creative Writing. She has now moved back to Brighton, where she was raised. Nice Light is her second short story to be published. The first, What Do You Know About Love?, can be read online at Forge Literary Magazine. A few of Saba’s poems have also appeared in places such as Ink, Sweat and Tears, and Cluny MCR.
Nice Light was written in Manchester, on an evening spent missing those hot Brighton summers, when drunks stumble up the Old Steine, and teenagers crowd the cycle paths on the seafront. It’s a story about right now, about living in the present tense, told by a protagonist who can do nothing but cross each bridge as she gets to it. But this story is also about those tiny moments of self-reflection, those glimmers of memory, recognition, or random kindnesses that remind us who we are, or where we’re going. It’s about that time of day when the clouds split to let a little sun through, and a few minutes of nice light remind us that the ordinary can hold something extraordinary.
Extract from Nice Light:
One of those days in Brighton where the heat is thick. Everybody lying on the grass watching everybody else. Ice lolly sticks all over the playground. Dogs with their tongues out, dry. Max sleeping next to a crate of Foster’s. No clouds. A teenage boy in a grey t-shirt tapping me on the shoulder. Sweat patches, smiley. Tells me he’s looking for alcoholics. Making a short film for college. Just thought he’d ask around the park. Hot day, you know? Writes his mobile number on a rizla. Don’t have to decide now, just something to keep in mind. He’d appreciate it.
Put the rizla in my back pocket. Remember being seventeen, on a bus. Woman with a sandwich turned around in her seat to tell me to go easy on the drink. She’d seen me on this route before. Couldn’t even walk straight at eleven in the morning. Better kick it before it’s too late. Got a whole life ahead of me. Not a thing to waste, a life. I thanked her for the advice and got off at the next stop to buy four K Ciders. Guess I’ve got it written all over my face.
Copies of the Everyday Epic anthology will be available from the Lulu.com bookshop and other good retailers. To find out when the book is available to buy, follow the Lulu.com social media channels.
Acclaimed Brighton Festival 2016 co-commission goes on tour
We are delighted to announce that Lola Arias’ publicly and critically-acclaimed show Minefield is to go on tour, including a run at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts from 15-17 November
Minefield is a multi-media performance from Argentinian artist Lola Arias about the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, developed with and performed by Argentinian and British veterans of the 1982 conflict. It uses archive footage, live feeds, music and projection to present the deeply personal and enduring stories of aftermath of conflict. In her singular style, Lola has worked with veterans Lou Armour, David Jackson, Gabriel Sagastume, Ruben Otero, Sukrim Rai and Marcelo Vallejo to create a production which tells their stories.
A co-commission for the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, Minefield garnered a clutch of 4 and 5 star reviews with The Independent describing the show as ‘An unforgettably potent exercise in remembrance’, and the Evening Standard as, ‘work of extraordinary compassion, constructed with a mix of jagged flair and careful intelligence.’
Minefield was originally commissioned and co-produced by LIFT, Royal Court Theatre, Brighton Festival, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Theaterformen, Le Quai Angers, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Maison des Arts de Créteil and Humain Trop Humain /CDN de Montpellier.
The original sponsor for the co-commission was The Aisbitt Family.
2 – 11 November 2017, Royal Court Theatre London
15 – 17 November 2017, Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Brighton. Click here to book tickets
22 – 24 March 2018, Northern Stage, Newcastle
28, 29 & 31 March 2018, York Theatre Royal
5 – 7 April 2018, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
12 – 14 April 2018, HOME, Manchester
Winners announced of Lulu.com Short Story Competition
Four winners of the short story writing competition run by Lulu.com, sponsor of Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army, have been announced.
The lucky winners will have their stories combined with stories from the Storytelling Army into the Everyday Epic anthology, which is to be published by Lulu.com.
Writers living in Sussex were asked to respond to the theme selected by Kate Tempest for Brighton Festival 2017, Everyday Epic, in no more than 4,000 words. The winning entries are:
Protected Housing by David Benedictus, Hove
On the threshold by Jenny Gaitskell, Lewes
Nice Light by Saba Sams, Brighton
Together we can by Beki Turner, Brighton
Jean Roberts, Business Development Director UK at Lulu.com says “The standard of the entries were all very high and it was certainly a difficult choice to come down to the final four writers. The judges all felt that these stories captured the spirit of the ‘Everyday Epic’ and really make the reader stop and think about how even the smallest event can be epic and life affirming or changing. Well done to all four winners and we hope that they continue to write stories to share.”
Brighton Festival worked with nabokov theatre company and Guest Director Kate Tempest to assemble and mobilise the Storytelling Army: a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life - including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed – who performed in unexpected locations throughout Brighton over the last weekend of this year’s Festival.
Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival retains Arts Council NPO funding
Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is pleased to be confirmed as a continuing part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2018-2022.
Funding has been maintained at current levels during the period, equating to £1,149,921 per year.
As custodians of the Grade 1 Listed Brighton Dome at the cultural heart of the city, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is the major arts and cultural provider in Brighton & Hove with an audience reach of over 666,000 annually.
Funding from Arts Council England (ACE) – along with Brighton & Hove City Council and a number of other supporters and donors - allows the delivery of an innovative year round programme spanning music, theatre, dance, comedy, literature, spoken word, visual arts, film, digital and more, as well as Brighton Festival each May; the largest curated annual multi-arts festival in England. Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness over the past half century, renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “We welcome the continued support and strong endorsement from Arts Council England for our work and our exciting plans ahead. We are also pleased to see continued funding for partners throughout the city and across the region.”
A registered charity, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is committed to offering imaginative new ways to discover and participate in the arts. Each year, the work of our Creative Learning team reaches over 22,000 people in Brighton & Hove and beyond.
Brighton Festival 2017 goes down a storm
The 51st Brighton Festival - with acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest as Guest Director - came to a storming conclusion last weekend.
The three-week celebration of the arts saw events take place in more venues across the city than ever before - from the South Downs to Brighton Marina to Woodvale cemetery - drawing a ticketed audience of over 81,000, the largest ever in the Festival’s 51-year-history.
At a political and social moment that feels particularly precarious, the wide-ranging programme paid homage to what Tempest calls the ‘Everyday Epic’ - art that helps us connect to ourselves and others, explores our individual stories and differences, and encourages audiences to take a walk in someone else’s shoes.
None did this more successfully than the UK Premiere of The Gabriels, Tony-award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s extraordinarily, intimate depiction of one American family, written and set in real time during the turbulent US election year. The plays received a series of 5* reviews and were lauded by critics as ‘deeply moving portraits of the dissolving American dream’ (The Guardian), ‘a quietly stunning theatrical achievement’ (The Stage), and ‘miraculous, almost invisible craft’ (The Arts Desk).
Kate Tempest herself featured in a plethora of performances both large and small: including an exclusive opening gig of music and spoken word, her largest full band performance to date; and a live orchestration of her recent album Let Them Eat Chaos, produced in collaboration with Oscar-nominated artist Mica Levi. All were rapturously received by sell-out audiences – with fans taking to Twitter to proclaim the likes of: “Transcendent doesn't even cover it: Kate you blew my mind. Thank you”.
Reflecting on the experience Tempest says:
“It’s felt crazy - the things that I’ve been doing have been things that I never would have had the opportunity to try out, had it not been for this particular Festival, for example getting the opportunity to play with a string and woodwind ensemble. That was an experience that I’ve dreamed of, but was completely impossible.
To get that many players of that calibre together, and to do it in a way that felt like it was providing something new for the work. It felt like a real moment of artistic endeavour and true collaboration."
With an audience of 15,000 over 16 evenings, one of the Festival’s biggest talking-points was For the Birds, a spectacular night-time trail of sound and light installations at a secret woodland location. The largest ticketed event ever presented at Brighton Festival, this unique event set social media abuzz throughout the month, with audiences dubbing it ‘mesmerising’, ‘fascinating’ and ‘beautiful”.
Reflecting Tempest’s belief that: ‘The arts should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes’, two new ventures ensured Brighton Festival 2017 did just that: The Storytelling Army, a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life popped up in unusual locations across the city to tell their ‘Everyday Epic’ stories - in turn humorous, inspiring, thought-provoking, emotional, and rousing; and new initiative Your Place, in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre, brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities Festival artists and local residents to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, 1500 people took part in Your Place across two weekends.
Brighton Festival audiences were also encouraged to join the Pay-It-Forward movement for the first time in another new initiative which offered the chance to donate £5 on top of ticket prices which was match-funded to create a £10 Festival ticket voucher for someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response was phenomenal with over a thousand people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.
As Tempest herself said:
"One of my big hopes was that we could do just what we have done, which is to bring the Festival out a little bit, open it up, and have some events going on in the communities, so people who can’t make it into town for whatever reason, still get to access some of the great programming and some of that feeling of this Festival.”
Other Brighton Festival 2017 highlights included an ethereal promenade performance through Woodvale Cemetery for Circa’s Depart; Kneehigh’s acclaimed production of Emma Rice’s staging of Tristan & Yseult; a special performance from legendary folk singer Shirley Collins; a major new co-commission from sculptor Cathie Pilkington; a virtual exploration of the Australian outback with Lynette Wallworth’s thought-provoking Virtual Reality film experience Collisions; two special events to mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi: and an inspirational sold-out book tour event from US Senator Bernie Sanders.
As ever this year’s Festival has been a triumph of partnership working, made possible through collaborations with many major organisations across the city and beyond including Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, Lighthouse, Fabrica, University of Brighton, Onca Gallery, Theatre Royal Brighton and Without Walls amongst others.
2017 also saw the highest number of shows yet live-streamed to audiences around the world for free, thanks to the on-going partnership with Greater Brighton Metropolitan College with highlights including Kate Tempest’s collaboration with Mica Levi and Orchestrate, an extravaganza of music and performance by queer artists of colour headlined by Mykki Blanco, and playful dance theatre by Joan Clevillé Dance with Plan B for Utopia.
Sponsorship and corporate support has also been vital this year with generous contributions from new and returning sponsors and supporters including London Gatwick Airport, University of Sussex, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, GM Building, Griffith Smith Farringdon Webb, Lulu.com, Nutshell Construction, Yeomans Toyota Brighton, Selits, and ZSTa.
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together is a great privilege and this year with Kate Tempest’s inspiration we’ve been thrilled to have reached new audiences and achieved some fantastic new records. But it is only possible because of the extraordinary support we have from funders, patrons, supporters, sponsors, members, partners and artists. We are also blessed with one of the most adventurous, curious and experimental audiences anywhere. I would like to thank everyone for their invaluable contributions, for making Brighton Festival what it is and for bringing this wonderful city and its wonderful festival to life.”
In photos: Week 3
Brighton Festival 2017 is over! We can't believe what a fantastic month it has been – here's a few photos from events in the last week
Photos by Vic Frankowski and Adam Weatherley
Brighton Festival Live: Bernie Sanders - Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In
Bernie Sanders - Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In will be live streamed on Thur 1 June, 8.30pm
Join us for an inside account of Sanders' extraordinary campaign with Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, and a blueprint for future political action.
Bernie Sanders stormed to international headlines after running an extraordinary campaign for the Democratic primaries that saw over 13 million people turn out to vote for him, and thereby changed the global discussion surrounding US politics. But how did a relative unknown and a democratic socialist make such waves?
Sanders provides a unique insight into the campaign that galvanised a movement, sharing experiences and the ideas and strategies that shaped it. Drawing on decades of experience as an activist and public servant, Sanders outlines his ideas for continuing this revolution, arguing for a progressive economic, environmental, racial and social justice agenda that creates jobs, raises wages and protects the planet.
Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College
Brighton Festival Live: Kate Tempest plus REMI
Kate Tempest plus REMI will be live streamed on Fri 26 May, 8.30pm
Hot on the heels of a headline tour in support of second studio album Let Them Eat Chaos, Kate Tempest and her band bring a specially extended live show to kick off the final weekend of Brighton Festival in fine style.
A poet, rapper, playwright, and impassioned performer, Kate Tempest is an artist who refuses to conform to genre boundaries. Whether it’s her self-performed epic poem Brand New Ancients (winner of the 2013 Ted Hughes Prize), her electrifying debut novel The Bricks That Built The Houses, or her Mercury Music Prize-nominated album Everybody Down, when you experience her powerful oratory, you’ll know why she is being hailed as the voice of a jilted generation.
Support comes from Melbourne MC REMI, who, with musical collaborator Sensible J, has become one of the fastest-rising hip-hop acts in Australia. REMI's sophomore LP Divas and Demons was released last year through his own label and included the widely loved single For Good featuring Sampa the Great.
Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College