Brighton Festival 2017Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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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.

Find out more about the work of our Creative Learning department.

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

Brighton Festival Live: Mykki Blanco

with Travis Alabanza + Lasana Shabazz

This Brighton Festival Exclusive will be live streamed from 9pm on Sat 27 May, from The Spire

Co-produced in partnership with The Marlborough Theatre

‘Mykki Blanco is the most compelling rapper of his generation’ i-D

Hold tight for an extravaganza of music and performance from pioneering queer artists of colour from both sides of the Atlantic.

We’ve teamed up with The Marlborough Theatre to offer a chance to party, show solidarity, and vent some artistically expressed rage against the status quo.

US rapper Mykki Blanco will blow your preconceptions away with his fast, ferocious style – as much influenced by punk and riot grrrl as hip hop. The performance artist-turned-rapper has toured with Bjork, Tricky and Basement Jaxx, and counts Florence Welch and Grimes amongst his many fans. This past autumn saw the release of the long-awaited debut Mykki album, the most personal collection of work yet from the gender-bending queer pioneer.

Mykki is joined by two fierce performance artists: Travis Alabanza (currently artist in residence at the Tate), and Lasana Shabazz, a regular performer with Duckie, the V&A and Southbank Centre, who both recently featured in Scottee’s acclaimed Roundhouse show, Putting Words in Your Mouth.

The Spire Programme supported by GM Building. 

Star of The Gabriels actor Maryann Plunkett announced as narrator of Copeland’s Lincoln Portrait for Brighton Festival finale

Britten Sinfonia and Brighton Festival Chorus bring Brighton Festival 2017 to a resplendent close with Aaron Copland's rousing Lincoln Portrait, alongside John Adams's glittering symphony, Harmonium.

We're delighted to announce that our narrator will be actor Maryann Plunkett, who plays Mary Gabriel in Richard Nelson’s trilogy The Gabriels, which has garnered a clutch of five-star reviews since its Brighton Festival UK premiere last weekend.

In 1942, shortly after the USA entered WW2 Copland was commissioned to write a work to fortify and comfort people during the time of national distress. The resulting Lincoln Portrait is a stirring setting of extracts from great speeches made by Abraham Lincoln, including the Gettysburg Address.

Other famous narrators have included the likes of Neil Armstrong, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Katharine Hepburn, and Barack Obama.

Maryann Plunkett also played Barbara in Richard Nelson’s The Apple Family Plays (Brighton Festival 2015), while her Broadway credits include Agnes of God, Sunday in the Park with George and Me and My Girl (for which she received a Tony Award). 

Britten Sinfonia and Brighton Festival Chorus are at Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Sun 28 May, 7.30pm

Brighton Festival Live: Lyrix Organix

Lyrix Organix with Kojey Radical & UnFold will be live streamed on Tue 23 May, 7.30pm

Lyrix Organix explore what it means ‘To Be Human’ with a double-headliner live show, Kojey Radical & UnFold.

UnFold is a critically acclaimed live show that champions the next young stars of spoken word, in collaboration with a contemporary classical string section. This edition shines a spotlight on Toby Thompson (described as ‘the future’ by Kate Tempest), Laurie Ogden and Solomon OB (National Slam champion 2016), in a collection of live performances threaded by a soundscape from London String Collective.

In a special for Brighton Festival, the event is co-headlined by Kojey Radical, an extraordinary 24 year-old poet, musician and striking visual artist. His explosive live shows have led to sold out performances at London’s Jazz Cafe, MOBO Award nominations.

The night also features a special guest talk by internationally acclaimed poet Deanna Rodger exploring 'The Art Of Words’.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College

Young people from Brighton Youth Centre create graffiti mural inspired by the Storytelling Army

Young people from Brighton Youth Centre have created a mural responding to a piece of writing by a member of Brighton Festival’s Storytelling Army, under the guidance of local artist and muralist Sinna One.

Brighton Festival commission the Storytelling Army is produced by nabokov theatre company who are working to assemble and mobilise a dynamic collective of people from all walks of life - including those who are homeless and vulnerably housed – who will be popping up to tell their stories in unexpected locations throughout Brighton over the last weekend of this year’s Festival, 26-28 May.

The mural, which is on the wall of Coffee@33 on Trafalgar street, was inspired by a piece of writing by one member of the Storytelling Army wrote about the kindness of people who buy her coffee.

Sinna One, who runs art classes at Brighton Youth Centre, says ‘Those guys when they come into the art room at the youth centre, they don’t always get to experience what I do as a job, and out on the street as well. It’s nice because it gives them a sense of working in the community as well.’

Fashion student Finley Marshall, who took the lead painting the mural, says ‘I’ve lived here all my life and I love Brighton so much. I loved the idea of spray painting. There’s loads of graffiti work all around Brighton, and getting to be a part of it is really great. I really like the concept [of the Storytelling Army] that people are just going to start telling stories places.’

In photos: Week 2

Another amazing week of Brighton Festival 2017 has passed already! Check out these photos from some of the incredible events over the last week.

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Caitlin Mogridge and Lucy Brooks.