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Brighton Festival 2016 announces Children’s Parade theme

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2016 Children’s Parade - which will take place on Saturday 7 May - is ‘Brighton celebrates’.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky and supported by local businesses Class of their Own and Riverford, 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 will be invited to be part of a major historical milestone as Brighton Festival celebrates its 50th year, taking inspiration from the people, places, ideas and innovations that shape the city’s unique character and identity.

Established in 1967, the three week celebration of music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate and family events has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. Renowned for its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation, Brighton Festival’s inaugural programme controversially included the first ever exhibition of Concrete Poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins and Yehudi Menuhin.

Now one of Europe’s leading arts festivals, Brighton Festival is known for its ambitious and daring programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere, drawing some of the most innovative artists and companies and adventurous audiences from the UK and around the world. The 50th Brighton Festival - which will take place from 7-29 May 2016 - will feature a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies including site-specific pieces, exclusives, world and UK premieres.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival 2016’s Children & Family programmer says: 'In 2016 Brighton Festival proudly enjoys its 50th birthday, and we can think of no better way of launching this special event than by inviting the children of Brighton to take to the streets with the theme of celebration. Brighton schools and community organisations will be working hard over the coming months exploring creative ways of representing the very best of the people, places and ideas which form our beautiful city. 5000 children will take part in the annual opening parade on Saturday 7 May representing Brighton characters past and present, landmarks old and new and the ideas and innovations that will carry us into Festival 50 in an explosion of sound and colour.'

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: 'All of us here at Same Sky are excited to be working with over 75 schools to celebrate the best of our lovely city. For 50 years Brighton Festival has engaged, entertained and entranced, both us locals and a national and international audience. This year's theme will allow us to highlight the wonderful qualities of our unique and diverse city by bringing these stories alive with art, music and dance. See you on the streets!'

The event will be sponsored in 2016 by Class of Their Own - who return for a third year as sponsors of the event – and Riverford Organic Farms.

Stephen Spears from Riverford Organic Farms says: 'I was so touched by being involved in last year’s event that I knew Riverford Organic Farms should continue to support the wonderful Children’s Parade this year. Riverford delivers organic fruit, veg, dairy, deli and meat to your door. Through this sponsorship we will continue to promote healthy eating, inspiring recipes and delicious pesticide-free produce to families across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.'

Sam Thomson and Tanya Petherick from Class Of Their Own said: 'We are delighted to be able to support such a fantastic community event for the third year running. This year will be a particularly special year as we will be celebrating 15 years and Brighton Festival is celebrating 50 years. We look forward to celebrating at the Children’s Parade with local children and families and to seeing you there.'

The Children’s Parade is on Saturday 7 May 2016. The 50th Brighton Festival will take place on 7-29 May 2016. 

Sponsorship opportunities for 50th Brighton Festival

Local businesses are being offered a unique opportunity to be part of a major historical landmark next year as Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England – celebrates its 50th year of bringing arts and culture to the city in 2016.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness and celebration over the past half century. This milestone year offers a chance for companies to be a part of the celebrations and also to demonstrate the spirit of partnership that will enable the city to thrive for the next fifty years.

With audiences reaching over 460,000 in 2013, Brighton Festival not only encourages visitors the city, but also engenders a sense of pride that increases leisure visits. Audience data demonstrates that 36% of Brighton Festival bookers are from outside the city and of the rest - a third of these local resident bookers - also buy tickets for visiting friends and family.

The annual Children’s Parade - the largest of its kind in Europe - which traditionally opens the Festival is embraced by the whole city, attended by 5,000 children from over 80 schools and community groups from across the region and watched by many thousands of spectators.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “I believe Brighton Festival has become part of the city’s DNA – one of the things everyone thinks about when they think of Brighton and part of the reason businesses and visitors want to come here. One of the most exciting thing is that the whole city gets involved, from our colleagues in the cultural sector to the city’s hotels and pubs. Together, we make sure the month is not only a cause for celebration, but also one that contributes tens of millions of pounds to our local economy every year.”

As a registered arts charity with just 34% of its operational costs covered by regular public funding, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival has to raise from a variety of sources, the other 66% needed to operate and to continue to successfully run the various strands of the organisation. Sponsoring Brighton Festival not only allows businesses to raise their profile, reach new customers by engaging with over half a million audiences and expand their networks, but also meet corporate social responsibility objectives by supporting the local community through outreach work.

2015 sponsors included University of Sussex, Southern Water, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, London Gatwick, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Class of Their Own, Riverford Organic Farms, DMH Stallard, The Montefiore Hospital, Nutshell Construction Limited, Griffith Smith Farrington Webb LLP solicitors and GM Building.

Confirmed sponsors for 2016 already include Nutshell Construction and SELITS.

Managing Director, Nutshell Construction, Ben Copper said: “We are delighted to be renewing our sponsorship of the Brighton Festival during its 50th anniversary year. Sponsorship of the event gets us in front of potential customers, it raises our profile by associating our business with a gilt-edged brand and it makes real business sense – as well as giving us a chance to support the arts and our home town.”

Andrew Comben continues: “Bringing Brighton Festival together every year is an incredible privilege. We wouldn’t be able to present the sheer number of quality performances, installations and exclusive talks that make up Brighton Festival without the help of sponsors, many of whom also support the work of Brighton Dome year-round. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th celebrations in 2016 - and with the help of new and returning supporters we hope to make it very special indeed.”

To find out more about sponsorship opportunities for the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, please contact Kata Gyongyosi on 01273 260 810 or email

Dance Film Festival UK to screen Brighton Festival films

Two films shot during Brighton Festival 2014 by Hove-based Supernova Learning have been selected from a high number of applicants for screening at this year's Dance Film Festival UK. Three Score at the Station documents the journey of Three Score Dance Company (TSDC) – a dance company for the over 60s – from early rehearsals to their world premiere performance of choreographer James Finnemore's Plans at Brighton Station. A second film – Plans at Brighton Station – features the entire performance in full.

'It’s exciting for Three Score, and the individuals and organisations supporting us, to have this wider interest in our wonderful performance experience at Brighton Station. It’s deserved recognition for our choreographer James Finnemore. It’s rewarding for me as a filmmaker to have the prestigious acceptance of the dance film community.’

Vincent Thompson, Supernova Learning

Plans was commissioned by Brighton Festival in association with South East Dance as part of Brighton Festival 2014’s programme of events. Crowds, commuters and tourists came to a standstill as TSDC’s eighteen dancers performed throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday in a flash-mob.

Choreographer James Finnemore – a former dancer with the critically-acclaimed Hofesh Shechter Company – said of the performance:

‘I came with pretty much a blank slate. I had the title and quite a strong structure in terms of floor plans… but with a bit of organised chaos in the middle! I prefer simplicity in general. If people don’t want to do a dance phrase, then I don’t want to make them. I find that sometimes less interesting. I prefer it to be more human, more simple.’

TSDC is the vision of two local women, Saskia Heriz and Christina Thompson, both of whom have been inspired by the work of The Company of Elders; a dance company for the over 60’s resident at the internationally renowned Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. Although many members of Three Score have had no prior dance training, their wealth of life experience brings a unique quality to their work. The company is led by Rehearsal Director, Jason Keenan-Smith, with professional choreographers commissioned to create bespoke pieces for performance.

The company is currently housed at Brighton Dome. Three Score Dance Company is supported by South East Dance in association with Brighton Dome. Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Dance Film Festival UK is part of The Fi.ELD Festival 2014 and takes place on the 9th & 10th August 2015 at Stratford Circus. 

Artist Opportunity: Caravan 2016

Are you a professional, England-based artist or company specialising in theatre and/or performance?

Want to get your work seen by international and national promoters, festival organisers and presenters?

Don’t miss your chance to show off your work in The Caravan Showcase 2016, as part of Brighton Festival. The Caravan Showcase is one of the UK’s leading programmes of new and exciting site-specific and interactive theatre and performance. Applications are now open for Caravan 2016, and they’d love to hear from you. For more information and how to apply, please visit

The deadline for submissions is 10am on Thu 23 July2015

Winners announced for competition to raise awareness of water scarcity

Brighton Festival, Brighton & Hove environmental education (BHee), Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere and Southern Water have announced the winners of the Our Water Matters competition.

The competition saw primary-aged children challenged to think of ways that they, their families and their schools could save water, with an aim to raise awareness amongst families in the city and beyond about the precious water resource lying beneath our feet.

Both drawings and written entries were submitted by children from over 35 schools, with many including the competition in lessons about the water cycle. Hundreds of entries were received, with ideas ranging from challenging our habit of washing clothes that are not really dirty through to creating a book featuring 24 water saving ideas and illustrations.

Six finalists - Lola Leonard (age 9), Ophelia Sullivan (age 6), Katherina Ilieva (age 11), Junior Fokou (age 10), Zach Wall (age 7), Hope Burnell (age 7) - were invited to a special ceremony at Brighton Dome Café-bar attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove Councillor Lynda Hyde on Friday 3 July. Lola Leonard was chosen as the overall winner of the competition for her ‘bath box’ idea which would save 70% water and energy from a normal bath.

Helen Peake, BHee Education Officer and one of the judges, said, ‘the judging team were really impressed by both the number and quality of entries, and choosing the winners was no easy task. There was a great mix of ideas: simple actions which we can all take to save water every day; exciting new inventions; and ideas for working together and spreading the water-saving message to others. It’s truly inspiring to see the youngest members of our communities with such positive attitudes to caring for our unique local environment.’

Our Water Matters was launched during Brighton Festival 2015 in response to Gauge – a fully immersive and interactive installation based in Circus Street Market which offered visitors a hands-on encounter with weather and water to create a playful and curious investigation into climate change. Created by sonic artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey and sponsored by Southern Water, the exclusive work featured several large scale installations created by a group of Australian artists and scientists to reflect the beauty and importance of processes related to water.

The installation also played host to a special weekend of events in which Gauge interacted with Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere, following the local area’s recognition by UNESCO in 2014 as an international site of excellence that is pioneering a positive future for people and nature and incorporates countryside, coast and city. Our Water Matters sought to support their work and raise awareness of the unique area we live in.

Rich Howorth, Biosphere Project Officer explains ‘we are lucky to live in a fantastic environment here which we call our ‘Biosphere’; the Downs, towns and coast are all very special places which we want people to enjoy and look after for the future. Perhaps the most precious thing we have is our natural source of pure drinking water that lies hidden beneath the ground. We need to use it wisely and not waste it.’

Brighton Festival 2015 soars to a close

Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-wining author Ali Smith at the helm as Guest Director - came to a soaring conclusion this weekend.

Over the three-week Festival - the biggest and most established in England - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions were explored in a thrilling selection of events which spanned music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate featuring artists and performers the world over from Ukrainian ‘ethnic chaos’ band DakhaBrakha to the newly Palme d’Or honoured filmmaker Agnès Varda.

Three central themes - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - provided a fascinating jumping off point to explore some of the key ideas and issues of the moment as well as a memorable visual image of a swift in flight which proved a fitting and popular emblem for the 2015 Festival.

The opening weekend asked audiences to ‘take flight’ for the annual children’s parade, the largest of its kind in Europe. Supported by regional businesses Class of their Own, Gatwick Airport and Riverford, the annual parade traditionally marks the start of Brighton Festival and was attended by almost 5,000 children from 83 schools and community groups from across the region; each dressed in costumes they had specifically designed and made for the event. Taking inspiration from Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith’s deep fascination with birds and other migratory patterns, costumes included bird life in all its forms as well as flying machines, creatures from fantasy and fable, bugs, bees and butterflies.

The Children's Parade. Photo by Jordan Hughes

During the ensuing 23 days it wasn’t just the kids who took flight – with more reviews praising the artistic excellence of this year’s programme than ever. One of the Festival’s biggest hits was the European premiere of Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson’s highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York which was lavished with 5 stars across the board. Glowing reviews in The Guardian, The Stage and the artsdesk amongst others described them as “exemplary”, “extraordinary”, “profound” and “faultlessly directed”. This was swiftly followed by the top accolade going to violinist Isabelle Faust’s amazing feat of solo virtuosity, Paine’s Plough’s poignant exploration of love and relationships in Lungs and Nina Conti’s extraordinary tour de force of improvised comedy amongst others.

Fleeting on Brighton Beach. Photo by Chris Bethall

At just under 400 performances across 150 events, including 34 that were entirely free to the public, Brighton Festival 2015 featured the highest number of exclusives, premieres and commissions to date including a sizeable proportion of events that cannot - and could not - be experienced anywhere else outside of Brighton Festival, from Sam Lee’s intimate Nightingale Walks on the Downs to Laurie Anderson’s one-off concert All the Animals and Festival finale Fleeting, the spectacular installation over the West Pier by And Now in which hundreds of individual points of fire created shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

In a continuation of the Festival’s dedication to making the arts accessible for all, 2015 saw a plethora of shows - including high profile events such as physical theatre show The Spalding Suite which takes as its subject the UK's basketball sub-culture and Jess Thom’s inspiring and uplifting exploration of her experience of living with Tourette’s, Backstage in Biscuit Land - live-streamed to audiences around the world, for free. Brighton Festival also reached out beyond the centre more than ever before, working with Without Walls to present a number of family-friendly performances in Saltdean and Woodingdean for the first time as well as the enthralling 451 at Preston Barracks and playful Ear Trumpet in Queen’s Park. This was complemented by a fantastic response to community driven events such as a new children’s birdwatching trail which was generously embraced by the business community, and the return of the Guest Director’s Guests, the Peacock Poetry Prize and the Young City Reads schemes.

Backstage in Biscuit Land. Photo by Victor Frankowski

Other Festival highlights included a one off live screening of Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy; the English premiere of Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland’s The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler, a homage to one of Scotland's most likeable, most individual and most unexpected 20th century figures; a new lecture specially commissioned for Brighton Festival by acclaimed author Jeanette Winterson OBE on the practices and craft of writing; and the UK premiere of The Forgotten / L’Oublié(e), the directorial debut of Raphaëlle Boitel, one of the most remarkable performers on the European visual and physical theatre scene.

Brighton Festival 2015 featured 396 performances across 150 events including 45 exclusives, premieres and commissions and 34 free events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “From the 5 stars across-the-board success of Richard Nelson’s extraordinary Apple Family Plays to the headline-grabbing performance of Kate Tempest and a very special personal appearance by newly Palme D’Or honoured Agnes Varda - this year really has been a Festival to remember. Ali Smith, as Guest Director, has been an absolute pleasure to work with and a wonderful inspiration to us all. Her remarkable sense of possibility, wonder, imagination and excitement at anything that she encounters has been evident every step of the way, from her invaluable input during the programming process to her lively and engaging presence throughout the month. The Festival’s continued ability to not only bring such an eclectic range of artists onto one bill but to make it a resounding success, is testament to the extraordinary support we have from funders, sponsors and from audiences themselves. It’s an exciting time for Brighton Festival as we look towards our 50th birthday next year. I cannot wait to lift the lid on what surprises we have in store for the city and beyond.”

In Photos: Brighton Festival Week Three

Wow - what a month we have had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2015 and we hope you had a blast too. This past week, we've had outdoor spectaculars, dreamlike circus, ventriloquism, incredible music and much more. Explore the happenings of week three by clicking the photos below...

The fun continues with a host of eclectic and exciting events...

Posted by Brighton Festival on Friday, 22 May 2015

In pictures: Week 3

Wow - what a month we had! We've enjoyed every second of Brighton Festival 2015 and we hope you had a blast too. In the last week, we had outdoor spectaculars, dreamlike circus, ventriloquism, incredible music and much more. Explore the happenings of week three by clicking the gallery above.

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Chis Bethall and Jordan Hughes

Peacock Poetry Prize winners announced

The winners of the Peacock Poetry Prize 2015 - an annual creative writing competition produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) - have been announced.

The annual creative writing competition, produced by Brighton Festival and Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC), asks local poets aged between 7 - 18 years to explore and respond to a specific subject in an imaginative and inventive way. 2015 saw the writers respond to the theme of ‘birds’; a subject chosen by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director and award-winning author Ali Smith – which reflected one of the central themes of the Festival itself.

Read all the finalists entries

As Ali Smith writes -

Who were the first singers?

What direct link back to the days of the dinosaurs can we see all round us in the air, in the trees, on the ground, every day?

What has bones that are hollow to make themselves even lighter?

Birds. They're waiting in the wings.

What kind of creature – apart from people in an aeroplane, I mean – can fly for miles but be completely asleep all the way?

Which ones can fly backwards, and which can beat its wings 50 times a second?

Which can fly underwater?

Which can fly nearly a thousand miles a day?

Which helped with the war effort in both the first and the second world wars, and were even given medals for their service?

And here's a question as old as the birds : why did that chicken cross the road?

A charm of chaffinches, a chime of wrens, a colony of gulls, a congregation of eagles, an exaltation of larks, a flamboyance of flamingos, a gaggle of geese, a glittering of hummingbirds, a gulp of swallows, a huddle of penguins, a kettle of hawks, a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings, a paddling of ducks, a quarrel of sparrows, a wisdom of owls.

Spread your wings.

Submissions were divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 7-10 years, 11-14 years and 15-18 years old.

If Birds Could Talk by 10-year old Laura Boyd won the 8-10 years category, The Boy and the Bird by Sarah Adegbite aged 13 won the 11-14 category, and 16-year old Olivia Sutherland won the 14-18 age range with Pigeonholed – A Sonnet for the Birds.

Winners were presented with their prizes by Ali Smith.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said, 

‘the quality of work submitted is always astounding and we hope the poets pursue their dreams of making careers from their writing.’

Chris Thomson, Principal at BHASVIC said 

‘I’m delighted that the BHASVIC-inspired Peacock Poetry Prize goes from strength to strength. It is a wonderful way of bringing the writing talents of young people from all across Sussex to a focus. Thanks to the brilliant work of Brighton Festival staff, the Prize opens a door not only into the world of poetry but also into our marvellous Brighton Festival for all our entrants.’

Brighton Festival Live: PSK Trio

Africa Railway Project is the new live concept from Portuguese master bassist Theo Pascal, vocalist Carmen Souza and Mozambican percussionist and drummer Elias Kacomanolis. For the last few years, they have been conquering stages around the world with the Carmen Souza Project. Now PSK Trio sets out to explore other African roots and rhythms - especially those from Lusophone countries - in a more intimate set. You’re invited to join them on the Africa Railwayand embark on a new journey to an unknown destination.