Brighton Festival 2019Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Share your West Pier memories for Brighton Festival 2015 finale event

Brighton Festival and acclaimed visual performance company And Now are looking for members of the public to share their memories and thoughts relating to Brighton & Hove’s West Pier and the evolving nature of the city’s population. The oral histories will be recorded and blended with composed music to create a soundscape to the large-scale performance of Fleeting, which takes place on the beachfront on Sunday 24 May and marks the finale to this year’s Brighton Festival.

Members of the public are invited to Brighton Dome’s Café-bar on Monday 30 (11am – 1pm) and Tuesday 31 (3pm – 5pm) March to share stories – as well as ideas about murmurations and migration – about the history of the city and the derelict pier.

Fleeting is a punctuated installation on the beach created by And Now: artists who specialise in creating unexpected visual experiences inspired by the natural world. Their recent works have taken place at Wakehurst Place, Wilderness Festival, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and also in two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Wye Valley River Festival and Inside Out, Dorset. The event will act as a tribute to the West Pier, the people of Brighton & Hove, and the transformative power of nature. 

Nuns on the run needed!

Award-winning theatre company seek volunteers for Brighton Festival performance

Theatre company Burn The Curtain are on the look-out for ‘nuns’ to take part in stewarding their Brighton Festival 2015 performance The Company of Wolves (7 – 9 May). The company are seeking volunteers to don a habit and take part in the promenade theatre adventure created for runners and walkers across Stanmer Park.

The performance turns Angela Carter’s macabre imagination into a spine-tingling outdoor experience; the tale unfolds as you progress along a pre-determined route which will be between two and five miles long, depending on which path you take. Those taking part can choose to either run or walk the course… with a warning that should you stray from the path for one instant, the wolves will eat you!

‘Character Peter the Priest is seeking devoted sisters for light nunning duties,’ explains Joe Hancock, Artistic Director of Burn The Curtain. ‘One nun will run with runners, one nun will float between runners and walkers and one will walk with the walkers. Your role is simple - keep the Hunters and Gatherers in line, keep them from straying from the path. A sense of rhythm and great dance moves may be useful but not essential, and devotion to any deity optional. Look of grim determination or abject fear an asset’.

Those interested in getting involved are asked to email Joe on info@burnthecurtain.co.uk – deadline for applicants is Tuesday 31 March 2015.

Burn the Curtain are a group of performers, artists and educators based in the South West who create unique hands-on site specific events where audience and performers travel together, work together, and build the performance together. They won an Argus Angel at Brighton Festival 2013 for their promenade performance of The Adventures of Don Quixote by Bicycle which saw audiences ride across the South Downs alongside the titular hero and his reluctant squire Sancho Panza.

Get involved: Wonderful ways to be part of Brighton Festival

There are plenty of wonderful ways to get involved with Brighton Festival and we’d love you to be part of it. We’ve tonnes of volunteer and artist opportunities - we’ve got options for writers and readers, performers and greeters and treasure seekers and culture needers, not to mention, there’ll be heaps of competitions to enter over the coming weeks.

Peacock Poetry Prize

Put another feather in your cap and enter the Peacock Poetry Prize - a poetry competition for ages 7-18 and this year’s theme is Birds. Fly this way to see how you can enter. 


Volunteer with us

You could be meeting artists, helping with artistic planning, turning your hand to a spot of marketing or being right in the middle of the action as a front of house volunteer team member. Fill in our survey to get involved.


Young City Reads

There’s a city wide read going on and it’s rather exciting! This year young storylovers are invited to read and discuss the arnarchic Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom. Carnegie Medal shortlisted author William Sutcliffe and illustrator David Tazzyman take centre stage for a live, interactive schools event to talk about this thrilling book and tell us more about Shanks’ Impossible Circus. Find out more about this amazing project launched on world book day. See what happened on their launch day in the video below...


Collidescope

Collidescope offers artists an in-depth insight into Brighton Festival and is suitable for artists who have been making work for at least five years, this opportunity will provide an immersive experience through a packed show schedule across the 23 days of Brighton Festival, and the chance to meet Guest Director Ali Smith and Festival artists in up-close encounters. Artists and creators making work in all areas of the performing arts are welcome to apply - 6-8 participants will be selected.


Fleeting

We are looking for volunteer performers ideally with some dance, movement or performance experience for our closing show. Evoking a sense of awe, wonder and calm contemplation, Fleeting will be a tribute to the West Pier, the people of Brighton and Hove and the transforming power of nature – a fitting finale to Brighton Festival 2015


Join in the festivities

Explore our programme and come and see a show - there’s heaps on offer – join in our celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events. Immerse yourself fully and challenge yourself to see all our free events this May too!

Keep an eye open for competitions. Rapid review will return, with plenty of tickets as prizes and they’ll be plenty more competitive ways to get involved with Brighton Festival 2015 – just watch this space… 

An Introduction to Brighton Festival 2015

Learn more in our introduction to Brighton Festival from our Chief Executive Andrew Comben. 

This year's Brighton Festival Guest Director is award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith. Recently named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists. With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year’s Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Five of the best…Female Filmmakers at Brighton Festival

After picking up a lifetime achievement award at the European Film awards last year, the amazing and iconoclastic French filmmaker Agnes Varda commented by saying ‘What I have noticed is that it is very sweet to receive this award but when I see the nominees here, I feel there are not enough women...I think more women should be included. I know a lot of very good female directors and women editors and I would like them be more represented and helped by the European film academy.’

We agree – and to mark International Women’s Day this Sunday we thought we would shine a light on five of them – who all happen to feature in this year’s Brighton Festival programme...

Agnes Varda

Often dubbed the ‘Godmother of the French New Wave’ the varied and brilliant career of Agnes Varda has spanned six decades. Her films, photographs, and art installations focus on documentary realism, feminist issues, and social commentary - with a distinct experimental style. We are delighted that the 86-year-old filmmaker and artist will be curating an installation in the Brighton University Gallery which will be open throughout the Brighton Festival 2015. We’ll also being showing many of her ground-breaking films such as the 60th anniversary screening of La Pointe Courte (1955) on Sun 3 May at Dukes at Komedia at 1.30pm and a 30th anniversary screening of Varda’s Vagabond (1985) at The Duke of Yorks on Sun 10 May, 1.30pm.

Carol Morley

British film director Carol Morley first came to prominence with her documentary The Alcohol Years, a BAFTA nominated film that was later released on DVD to critical acclaim. The film was nominally an autobiography but became as much about the people in it as Morley herself - and was seen to define the era and place in which it was set (Manchester in the 1980s). We will be bringing a screening of her acclaimed 2011 film Dreams of a Lifewhich explores mysterious the life and death of Joyce Vincent. Morley will also take part in a Q&A session after the screening on Mon 11 May at Dukes at Komedia.


Clio Barnard

Winner of various awards, British filmmaker Clio Barnard’s most recent film The Selfish Giant, about two boys who scavenge to survive on a Bradford estate, has been called 'a Kes for the 21st century'. For Brighton Festival 2015 we revisit her acclaimed debut feature The Arbor (2010) to Dukes at Komedia on Mon 18 May, 6.30pm. The film focuses around the life of the late Bradford playwright Andrea Dunbar. Barnard will also part in a post screening discussion.


Joanna Hogg

Joanna Hogg is an utterly distinctive figure in contemporary British cinema, making thoughtful, provocative arthouse movies about the lives of bourgeois characters. Her films are intimate, closely focused character studies that probe away at the behaviour and discontents of her protagonists in a forensic but quietly comical fashion. We are delighted that Joanna Hogg, will be taking part in a Q&A discussion at the Dukes at Komedia on Sun 17 May following a screening of her film Archipelago (2010) at 1.15pm. The film surrounds Edward (Tom Hiddleston) and his family as they have a get-together before he departs for a volunteering trip to Africa.


Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood has been working in the British film industry for over 10 years and has won several awards for her work. Her latest film projects have all been an exploration into ideas of the archive using found footage. Wood will be joined by film-maker Lucy Harris in this year’s visual art event at the Onca Gallery. Commissioned by Brighton Festival and a Brighton Festival Exclusive A Murmuration explores the natural world especially the relationship between art and nature in collaboration with writers Helen MacDonald and Olivia Laing.

By Charlotte Newell

Be part of the action and volunteer with Brighton Festival 2015

Volunteer with England's biggest mixed arts Festival and be at the heart of the action. Find out more at our volunteer drop-in session on Tue 10 Mar. 

Pop in and see us on Wed 10 Mar, 6-8pm at the Brighton Dome Café-bar and learn all about volunteering at Brighton Festival 2015. 

You could be writing engaging #BF2015 tweets, meeting and greeting the public or even liaising with the performers and artists themselves. What better way to spend a sunny May than being at the centre of Brighton’s cultural map whilst gaining work experience?

Find out more about volunteering here or join our Facebook event for more details.

The lovely Alice from OfBooks.org’s has written about her experience of volunteering at Brighton Festival 2013 check it out here.

The drop in session will take place at Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UE..Click here for more venue information.

Welcome to Brighton Festival

'Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird'. 'Imagine the borders between the artforms'. 

Our amazing Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2015 Ali Smith shares with us her thoughts and excitement for this year's festival

Brighton Festival 2015 highlights

Re-live some of the highlights of Brighton Festival 2015 - with award-winning author Ali Smith as Guest Director - ahead of next year’s 50th celebrations. The milestone year is a major landmark in the Festival’s history and promises to be its most ambitious yet.

Brighton Festival 2015 Trailer

This Brighton Festival 2015 we continue our tradition of celebrating and showcasing incredible art with three weeks of spectacular exclusives, premieres, commissions and groundbreaking performances from across the globe. In this trailer our Guest Director Ali Smith introduces Brighton Festival 2015 and invites you to “Imagine the borders between the artforms… so that poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance meets thought meets sculptural meets rhythm meets fiction meets the natural world.”

Film by Hoi Poilloi

Read more about the making of this trailer.

Brighton Festival 2015 Teaser Film

'Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird. Imagine the borders between the artforms'. Our amazing Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2015 Ali Smith shares with us her thoughts and excitement for this year's festival.

Spreading our Wings with Brighton Festival 2015 Branding

As we swoop headfirst into another jam-packed year of festival goodness we thought we’d tell you a bit more about Brighton Festival 2015’s avian branding.

You may have noticed our yellow, big bird, but there’s no hint of Sesame Street about it. Working with our Guest Director Ali Smith and agency Johnson Banks to create this striking, bespoke identity has been a lot of fun.

Drawing inspiration from Ali’s words and this year’s theme has led us to our final design. See Ali Smith’s welcome for the full introduction to the concepts behind this Festival’s programming, which include Art & Nature, Crossing Places and Taking Liberty.

Our designer’s Johnson Banks spoke of their inspiration and direction, ‘This year’s image was inspired by guest director Ali Smith’s words and thoughts on her themes for the festival. She says ‘Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird’, and talks specifically about swifts as they migrate to the UK in May. This fits perfectly with the time of year the festival takes place.

We felt swifts were also a great analogy for the artists coming together from all over the world to perform at the festival. So we imagined how Brighton could look from a swift's perspective. As it flies overhead it casts a yellow shadow of the city itself on the ground. The swift graphic is designed with flexibility in mind, to ‘fly' over various parts of Brighton from the sea, to its parks, to the lanes and streets. For the principal image, we enjoyed the harsh contrast of the swift’s vibrant colour against the stark concrete street, perhaps symbolising the diversity of the festival itself.’

Here’s a little insight into the design process...


So now you know - why not take inspiration and enjoy the view at this year’s Brighton Festival? See the full and fantastic line-up here.

New sponsors announced as Brighton Festival 2015 launches full programme of events

A plethora of new sponsors have pledged to support Brighton Festival as award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith takes the role of Guest Director in its 49th year.

Southern Water, Gatwick Airport ,The Montefiore Hospital, Riverford Organic Farms and solicitors Griffith Smith Farrington Webb will sponsor a number of differing events, including Gauge (2 – 24 May); an interactive arts installation in Circus Street Market created by artists and scientists, and the popular Children’s Parade, which opens the three-week long celebration of culture across the city and beyond.

Stephen Spears of Riverford Organic Farms said ‘we at Riverford Organic Farms are supporting the wonderful Children’s Parade this year. Riverford delivers organic fruit, veg, dairy, deli and meat to your door - through this sponsorship we hope to promote the benefits of delicious, pesticide and chemical free produce to families across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.’

They join the likes of University of Sussex, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Class of Their Own, DMH Stallard, Nutshell Construction, SELITS, GM Building, Brighton and Hove Jobs.com, Echo Video, Grandad, Hoi Polloi, IEP Financial, Midnight Communications, Moshimo, MyHotel, One Digital, Terre a Terre, WSP in sponsoring the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England.

Martin Williams, Partner at Mayo Wynne Baxter solicitors who have been sponsors since 2011 said 'the exposure of our name alongside prestigious events is very important for our profile. Clients remark positively on our involvement with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, which helps cement our position in the city.'

Each year, Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme. Recently named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director Ali Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said ‘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 is thanks to their continued help that we can make Brighton Festival unique and the city itself such a magical place to be in May.’

During Brighton Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists.

Sponsoring Brighton Festival and Brighton Dome allows businesses to raise their profile, reach new customers, and meet corporate social responsibility objectives. To find out more, please contact Kata Gyongyosi on 01273 260 810 or click here.

Brighton Festival 2015 launches with award-winning author Ali Smith as Guest Director

Brighton Festival - the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England - has launched today with award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith as Guest Director.

Recently named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists; from a rare UK visit by 86-year-old legendary film maker and artist Agnès Varda to rising stars Kate Tempest, George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year’s Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Posing questions about whether life imitates art or art imitates life, Art and Nature is explored in a host of events including an exclusive nightingale walk, with Mercury-nominated folk singer Sam Lee; an immersive multi-screen film installation of Marcus Coates’ entitled Dawn Chorus, featuring singers who uncannily recreate birdsong and bird movement; a discussion of the urgent conservation issues that face us today with celebrated author and bird enthusiast Margaret Atwood and her partner and fellow writer Graeme Gibson; and Fleeting, an outdoor spectacular over the West Pier by And Now, in which hundreds of individual points of fire create shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

Central to the programme is the notion of Crossing Places - where poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance – from works that defy categorisation such as The Measure of All Things, a new live cinema performance by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green to Claudia Molitor’s part installation part performance Vast White Stillness in the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel. In Being Both, acclaimed mezzo soprano Alice Coote, English Concert’s Harry Bicket and Susannah Waters stage a theatrical journey into the heart of Handel’s sublime vocal music, which, in a nod to Smith’s own prize-winning work How to Be Both, explores and challenges the experience and perception of gender.

Set against the backdrop of the General Election, Liberty, equality and freedom is celebrated in all its shapes in an astonishing cutting-edge line-up of artists, performers, thinkers and commentators - all contemporary game changers in their chosen forms. These include Liberty Director and author Shami Chakrabati who hosts an evening in celebration of the Human Rights Act featuring a dazzling collection of writers and performers such as Billy Bragg, Neil Bartlett, Rachel Holmes and Jackie Kay; Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson who brings the European premiere of his highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York; award-winning Pakistani/British author Kamila Shamsie; celebrated Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen, Turkish writer Elif Shafak and Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley, whose new commission Portraits of Dissension explore ideas of unrest, edge and shift, space and occupation.

Other highlights include Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy accompanied by a one-off live performance of its seductive score by Cat’s Eyes - the collaborative project of The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan and Italian-Canadian singer and composer Rachel Zeffira; a series of screenings and accompanying talks by prominent female directors including Joanna Hogg, Carol Morley and the legendary Agnès Varda who will also create a special installation at Brighton University Gallery for the duration of the Festival; 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; the UK premiere of Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, a theatrical ode to the life - and afterlife – of Lucia Joyce, the adored daughter of James Joyce created by legendary New York theatre ensemble Mabou Mines; 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; and Laurie Anderson: All the Animals, a specially curated performance by one of America’s most daring creative pioneers.

Ali Smith says:

“It's tremendously exciting to have been asked to help programme the 2015 Brighton Festival. I'm delighted and honoured – what a gift, to be asked to do this, imagine – the biggest international multi-arts spectacular in England. I've always loved Brighton's sense of fun and friendliness, its vibrant open-mindedness, the way it opens to sky, the way the rest of Europe is so close it's almost visible. It's a city that's always known how to live on the edge, a place full of endless energy, argument, possibilities, light. No matter the wildness or mildness of the weather, no matter the zigzag of zeitgeist elsewhere north or south of it, Brighton is always itself, and always uniquely welcoming.”


Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Ali Smith, as Guest Director this year, has been a wonderful inspiration to us all in programming the festival. In her writing, Ali is renowned for pushing form and working with her has taught us to think differently about how we programme and the work that we bring. She has also brought an incredible range of artists to the festival who are responding to the world in a particular way, both people she knows well, and also people she has loved for many years and perhaps longed for an opportunity to work with - from Agnès Varda to Elif Shafak, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Mabou Mines - the list is long and extensive and I think thrilling. I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience another exciting and innovative month of events in May.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “Brighton Festival puts the city in the spotlight as a centre of arts excellence, not just in the South East, but nationally and internationally, and we are proud to be a major funding partner. It brings vast numbers of people to the town to enjoy a wide ranging and exciting programme of arts exhibitions, performances, talks and much more. Brighton Festival continues to reflect the vibrancy of Brighton & Hove itself – it is a place where artists and artistic organisations blossom and flourish. Brighton Festival’s value to the city and the region extends beyond entertainment and inspiration – it also provides a significant economic boost for local businesses as artists and audiences travel from near and far to become involved.”

The seventh Guest Director of Brighton Festival, Ali Smith takes on the mantle from visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012), poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013) and choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014) in shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has a rich history of pushing boundaries. In its inaugural year the 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 for artists and audiences, Brighton Festival is known for commissioning and producing an ambitious programme that aims to make the most of the city’s distinctive cultural atmosphere. It has been widely recognised for presenting exciting site specific work, thought provoking debate and newly commissioned works.

The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Brighton Festival 2015 features 396 performances taking place across 150 events including 42 exclusives, premieres and commissions.

-ENDS-

For further enquiries, please contact our press team:

Emma Robertson, Head of Press & PR - emma.robertson@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260 803

Chris Challis, Senior Press Officer – chris.challis@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260838

Anna Whelan, Digital Officer – anna.whelan@brightonfestival.org | 01273 260825

Ticket Office - 01273 709709 | brightondome.org

Follow us on Twitter - www.twitter.com/brightdome (@brightdome)

Join our Facebook fan site - www.facebook.com/brightondome

Listen to our monthly podcast - http://soundcloud.com/brighton-dome


NOTES TO EDITORS

Download the press release here

About Brighton Festival:

• Brighton Festival is England’s most established annual mixed arts Festival which takes place across three weeks in the city each May. It is a major milestone in the international cultural calendar and in 2013 achieved a new record audience reach of 468,000

• Brighton Festival attracts inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme with British sculptor Anish Kapoor as inaugural curator in 2009 followed by the Godfather of modern music Brian Eno in 2010, the Burmese Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 2011, actress and Human Rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave in 2012, poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen in 2013 and choreographer, composer, musician and performer Hofesh Shechter in 2014.

• Brighton Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing arts festival, offering an ambitious programme that makes the most of the city’s distinctive atmosphere

• Brighton Festival includes visual art, theatre, music, dance, circus, books and debates, family friendly events and outdoor performances throughout the city including site-specific and unusual locations.

• Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year round.

About Ali Smith

• Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge

• Her first book, Free Love, won the Saltire First Book Award

• Hotel World (2001) was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize in 2001 and won the Encore Award, the East England Arts Award of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 2002

• The Accidental (2005) won the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize

• How to be both (2014) was named winner of The Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Folio Prize.

• Ali Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections including Like (1997); Other Stories and Other Stories (1999); The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003); Girl Meets Boy (2007); The First Person and Other Stories (2008); There But For The (2011) and Artful (2012)

• Ali Smith, was made a CBE in the 2014 New Year's Honours list.

Brighton Festival 2015 announces full programme of events

Clear your diaries in May as England’s largest mixed arts festival returns with award-winning author Ali Smith as its Guest Director

Brighton Festival – under the watchful eye of award-winning author Ali Smith as this year’s Guest Director – has announced its full programme of events.

Over the three-week Festival - which runs from 2-24 May 2015 - many of Ali Smith’s ideas, interests and passions will be explored in a programme which spans music, theatre, dance, visual art, film, literature and debate from a wide range of national and international companies and artists; from a rare UK visit by 86-year-old legendary film maker and artist Agnès Varda to rising stars Kate Tempest, George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

With three central themes at its heart - Art and Nature, the Crossing Places between art forms, and Taking Liberty - this year’s Brighton Festival challenges visitors to look again, featuring an eye-opening array of artists and performers with the power to deliver the world we think we know to us re-seen, renewed, with a visionary twist in the tale.

Ali Smith says: “It's tremendously exciting to have been asked to help programme the 2015 Brighton Festival. I'm delighted and honoured – what a gift, to be asked to do this, imagine – the biggest international multi-arts spectacular in England. I've always loved Brighton's sense of fun and friendliness, its vibrant open-mindedness, the way it opens to sky, the way the rest of Europe is so close it's almost visible. It's a city that's always known how to live on the edge, a place full of endless energy, argument, possibilities, light. No matter the wildness or mildness of the weather, no matter the zigzag of zeitgeist elsewhere north or south of it, Brighton is always itself, and always uniquely welcoming.”

Posing questions about whether life imitates art or art imitates life, Art and Nature is explored in a host of events including an exclusive nightingale walk, with Mercury-nominated folk singer Sam Lee; an immersive multi-screen film installation of Marcus Coates’ entitled Dawn Chorus, featuring singers who uncannily recreate birdsong and bird movement; a discussion of the urgent conservation issues that face us today with celebrated author and bird enthusiast Margaret Atwood and her partner and fellow writer Graeme Gibson; and Fleeting, an outdoor spectacular over the West Pier by And Now, in which hundreds of individual points of fire create shapes and swathes of glowing light and shade.

Central to the programme is the notion of Crossing Places - where poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance – from works that defy categorisation such as The Measure of All Things, a new live cinema performance by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green to Claudia Molitor’s part installation part performance Vast White Stillness in the maze of tunnels beneath the Old Ship Hotel. In Being Both, acclaimed mezzo soprano Alice Coote, English Concert’s Harry Bicket and Susannah Waters stage a theatrical journey into the heart of Handel’s sublime vocal music, which, in a nod to Smith’s own prize-winning work How to Be Both, explores and challenges the experience and perception of gender.

Set against the backdrop of the General Election, Liberty, equality and freedom is celebrated in all its shapes in an astonishing cutting-edge line-up of artists, performers, thinkers and commentators - all contemporary game changers in their chosen forms. These include Liberty Director and author Shami Chakrabati who hosts an evening in celebration of the Human Rights Act featuring a dazzling collection of writers and performers such as Billy Bragg, Neil Bartlett, Rachel Holmes and Jackie Kay; Tony award-winning playwright Richard Nelson who brings the European premiere of his highly acclaimed four play cycle The Apple Family Plays from The Public Theater, New York; award-winning Pakistani/British author Kamila Shamsie; celebrated Russian-American journalist, author and activist Masha Gessen, Turkish writer Elif Shafak and Turner Prize nominated artist Nathan Coley, whose new commission Portraits of Dissension explore ideas of unrest, edge and shift, space and occupation.

Other highlights include Peter Strickland’s daring masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy accompanied by a one-off live performance of its seductive score by Cat’s Eyes - the collaborative project of The Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan and Italian-Canadian singer and composer Rachel Zeffira; a series of screenings and accompanying talks by prominent female directors including Joanna Hogg, Carol Morley and the legendary Agnès Varda who will also create a special installation at Brighton University Gallery for the duration of the Festival; 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; the UK premiere of Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, a theatrical ode to the life - and afterlife – of Lucia Joyce, the adored daughter of James Joyce created by legendary New York theatre ensemble Mabou Mines; 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; and Laurie Anderson: All the Animals, a specially curated performance by one of America’s most daring creative pioneers.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Ali Smith, as Guest Director this year, has been a wonderful inspiration to us all in programming the festival. In her writing, Ali is renowned for pushing form and working with her has taught us to think differently about how we programme and the work that we bring. She has also brought an incredible range of artists to the festival who are responding to the world in a particular way, both people she knows well, and also people she has loved for many years and perhaps longed for an opportunity to work with - from Agnès Varda to Elif Shafak, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Mabou Mines - the list is long and extensive and I think thrilling. I look forward to welcoming audiences to experience another exciting and innovative month of events in May.”

The annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events will take place in venues across the city and beyond from 2 to 24 May 2015. Brighton Festival 2015 features 396 performances taking place across 150 events including 42 exclusives, premieres and commissions.

Peacock Poetry Prize to return in Brighton Festival 2015

Annual creative writing competition takes theme of ‘birds’

Brighton Festival 2015 has announced the return of the popular Peacock Poetry Prize. 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 theme in an imaginative and inventive way. Submissions are divided into three age groups - those writers aged between 7-10 years, 11-14 years and 15-18 years old.

This year’s is ‘birds’; a subject chosen by Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director Ali Smith.

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.

Pippa Smith, Head of Creative Learning at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said, ‘the Peacock Poetry Prize is always a wonderful opportunity for young people to get involved with Brighton Festival. I’m always taken aback at the number and range of submissions we receive, and this year I hope Ali Smith’s theme of ‘birds’ will see our young writers’ imaginations soar into the clouds to produce some wonderful poetry.’

Chris Thomson, Principal at BHASVIC said ‘the Peacock Poetry Prize is a wonderful way of bringing the writing talents of young people from all across Sussex to a focus; encouraging them to engage with the Festival’s theme and to look on themselves as practitioners as well as participants in this world-class arts festival on their doorstep.’

Finalists of the competition are treated to a reception during Brighton Festival in May, at which the winners are announced.

To enter, budding bards are invited to email your entry (including your name and age) by Monday 20 April to writing@brightonfestival.org with ‘Peacock’ in the subject line, with no more than 3 entries per person and a maximum poem length of 40 lines.  

Click here to download an entry form

Click here for useful tips and competition rules

Young City Reads 2015 title revealed

William Sutcliffe’s Circus Of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom chosen for annual children's reading project.

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that William Sutcliffe's Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom has been chosen as the 2015 Young City Reads book for children across Brighton & Hove.

Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom tells the funny and heartwarming tale of Hannah, whose life is boring, boring, boring… until she meets Billy Shank, his astonishing camel Narcissus, and a host of other bizarrely brilliant members of the circus. But all is not as it seems; Armitage Shank, evil ringmaster and Billy's surrogate father, has a dastardly plan involving light-fingered thievery. Can Hannah and Billy stop his stinking scheme before it's too late…

'I’m thrilled to be chosen for Young City Reads, and not just because I like any excuse to visit Brighton. An initiative like this, that encourages children and adults to enjoy books together, and that gathers a community to enjoy the written word in a spirit of inter-generational fun, is exactly what every children’s book writer dreams of participating in.' William Sutcliffe, Young City Reads author

The concept of Young City Reads is simple - one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with. The brainchild of Brighton based award winning literary organisation Collected Works CIC – a social enterprise devoted to promoting shared reading in the community – Young City Reads was established in 2013, when broadcaster and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen (that year’s Guest Director of Brighton Festival) agreed to champion the project. Michael Rosen has praised the scheme for ‘inventiveness and simplicity’ in its approach to encouraging children and young people to read for pleasure’

‘The more we read, and the earlier we start reading, the wider and more fruitful the big wide world becomes and the more thoughtful and versatile our understanding of it. Young City Reads is a gift to young minds….’ Ali Smith, Guest Director, Brighton Festival 2015

The initiative invites primary school teachers and classes to register online for free and agree to read the Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom together in class. Throughout the project, participating classes will receive weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom quizzes, puzzles and fun activities to complete. Visit cityreads.co.uk to sign-up and get reading!

‘Young City Reads has become an integral part of Brighton Festival; to see the city’s young people come together to read one book is always an exciting prospect – involving city-wide discussion, exploration and creative engagement. With award-winning author Ali Smith as Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director, the written word plays a very important role in this year’s full programme of events, and Sutcliffe’s tale of a truly unique – and incredibly mischievous – circus promises to be a great fit given the number of extraordinary performances, stories and characters than head to Brighton & Hove in May.’ Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival

Young City Reads 2015 will conclude on Wednesday 20th May 2015 at a special Brighton Festival event featuring William Sutcliffe and illustrator David Tazzyman.

Honours and awards for Brighton Festival 2015 Guest Director

Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director receives New Years Honour and is named winner of the novel category in the 2014 Costa Book Awards.

We’re only six days into the New Year, but Brighton Festival 2015’s Guest Director Ali Smith is already making headlines.

On Wednesday 30 December 2014 it was announced that the Scottish writer was to be made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire – or CBE – in the New Years Honours list for her distinguished and innovative contribution to literature.

As if to underline this contribution, last night Ali Smith was announced as the winner of the Costa Novel award for How to be both.

“I’m completely amazed to have won the category – and really delighted. The category shortlist was such a very good one, I felt lucky enough just to be on that. I can’t quite believe it.” – Ali Smith

The novel will now join the winners of the other four categories – the Costa First Novel award (won by Emma Healey’s Elizabeth is Missing), the Costa Poetry award (won by Jonathan Edwards’s My Family and Other Superheroes), the Costa Biography award (won by Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk and the Children’s Book award (won by Kate Saunders’ Five Children on the Western Front) – in competing for the Costa Book of the Year award.

The overall winner will be decided by a panel of judges chaired by the author Robert Harris and announced on Tuesday 27 January 2015.