Brighton Festival 2018Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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Singers sought for Brighton Festival 2018's ‘The Arms of Sleep’

Brighton Festival & The Voice Project seek to form a new choir to perform as part of a unique audience sleepover project and invites people over 16, who enjoy singing, to join a new choral project The Arms of Sleep, for Brighton Festival in May 2018.

The Arms of Sleep is an overnight experience for the audience, where the choir provide music in both the morning and evening. The Arms of Sleep is a large-scale choral music-theatre piece devised and directed by Jonathan Baker and Sian Croose from the acclaimed Voice Project.

The Arms of Sleep will be presented on the Firle Place estate, near Glyndebourne, where audiences of up to 50 people will each be given a comfortable bed, to experience a dreamlike night of music and stories, sound and images.

There will be a preview on Fri 11 May, followed by performances beginning on the evenings of Sat 12 May to Tue 15th May and concluding the following mornings (full details to be confirmed).

Voice Project Co-Director Sian Croose said ‘We’d like to welcome absolutely anyone over 16 with a desire to sing to join the choir. There are no auditions and all rehearsals are conducted in such a way that no previous experience of singing or music is required.’

For performances, choir members will be performing between approximately 9pm - 11pm, and 7am - 8am the following morning. Rehearsal dates are below and each choir member would need to be available for up to 3 performances.

The Arms of Sleep is a co-production between The Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Brighton Festival, and the Voice Project and was a huge critical success in May 2017 in Norwich. The music for The Arms of Sleep has been specially written by Brighton-based composer Orlando Gough, Jonathan Baker and Helen Chadwick.

There is a no-obligation taster session for anyone who thinks they may be interested in joining the choir at The Basement, 24 Kensington Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4AJ on Sunday 7th January 2018, 10.30am-1pm. 

Should you decide that you would like to partake in this very exciting project, a members fee of £60 will be required.
(Please speak to the Voice Project administrators for bursary solutions).

The Voice Project’s Sian Croose and Jon Baker will be joined by Brighton’s own Kirsty Martin who will be co-running some of the rehearsals. 

For more information please contact info@thevoiceproject.co.uk
To book on to the taster session and express your interest in the project follow the link below. 


Fill out this form to register your interest

The Voice Project are based in Norfolk and were founded by joint artistic directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in 2008. They have taken their unique vision of what a community choir can be to international jazz festivals in mainland Europe, appeared on prime time French TV and had one of their London concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3. The Voice Project Choir is now one of the best-known choirs in the East of England, having given many hundreds of singers the opportunity to take part in unique creative performances of high quality new vocal music.

Listings info: The Arms of Sleep Taster session
Sun 7 Jan 2018, 10.30am-1pm
Location: The Basement. 24 Kensington Street. Brighton. East Sussex. BN1 4AJ
No obligation taster session, everyone welcome, no experience needed.

Rehearsal dates for 2018 (later dates and times subject to change):

Sunday 7th January 10.30am-1.00pm
Tuesday 23rd January 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 7th February 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 21st February 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 3rd March- 10.30am-4.00pm
Tuesday 6th March- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Wednesday 21st March- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 24th March – 10.30am-4.00pm
Tuesday 10th April- 7.30pm-9.45pm
Saturday 14th April 10.30am-4.00pm
Sunday 15th April- 10.30am-4.00pm
Wednesday 25th April- 7.30-9.45pm
Tuesday 1st May- 7.30pm-9.45pm

Rehearsals on site from 8th May- exact dates and times TBC
Fill out this form to register your interest

Title revealed for Young City Reads 2018

Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal chosen for city-wide 'big read' as part of Brighton Festival 

Collected Works CIC and Brighton Festival are delighted to reveal that Greg James and Chris Smith's Kid Normal has been chosen as the 2018 'big read' for children across Brighton & Hove and beyond. The concept is simple: one book, by one author, is selected for the whole community to read, explore, discuss and creatively engage with.

Familiar to radio audiences as the hosts of Radio 1’s Greg James Show and its accompanying podcast That’s What He Said, Greg James and Chris Smith’s Kid Normal tells the story of a boy who accidentally enrols in a school for children with superpowers. Chris Smith’s literary career so far includes winning the H E Bates Short Story Competition 1981 (under 10s section) with his tale Where Are the Brandy Snaps?

The idea for writing their first children’s book arose from the pair enjoying creating characters together on their podcast, such as the Brandy Butter Monster or the receptionists at CERN. The plot concerns Murph Cooper, who feels out of depth in his new school after his mum has enrolled him at a school for superheroes by mistake. Unlike his fellow students, who can all control the weather or fly or conjure tiny horses from thin air, Murph has no special abilities whatsoever. And not far away is a great big bad guy who is half man and half wasp, and his mind is abuzz with evil plans...

Greg James and Chris Smith said: ‘We know that Brighton is full of superpowers: seagull evasion, shingle navigation and dolphin racing, to name but three. And now we're looking forward to adding a few new ones with the help of your awesome powers of creativity. We hope you enjoy meeting Murph and his friends in Kid Normal, and we can't wait to meet you all to make up some new stories!’

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: ‘Young City Reads is always a highlight of Brighton Festival and a testament to our strong partnership with Collected Works. By providing an opportunity to encourage young booklovers to come together to discuss and share their love of reading – we are hopefully nurturing a new generation of artists and art lovers for the future.’

Sarah Hutchings, Artistic Director, Collected Works CIC, commented: ‘Young City Reads is all about sharing our love of stories. It inspires children to take time over the reading of a book and then encourages them to discuss it with friends, teachers, carers or parents. We are delighted to be welcoming Radio 1 personalities Chris Smith and Greg James to Brighton in May to celebrate their funny and warm hearted book with schools across the city and beyond. Our young readers are in for a treat!’

Primary school teachers and classes are being invited to register online (for free) and agree to read Kid Normal together in class between (1 March – 18 May 2018). The Class Teacher or Head Teacher can complete a sign-up form on the City Reads website.

Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which will include bite-size Kid Normal literacy resources and fun activities to complete. This is a great way for classes to get excited about a book and to experience the benefits of shared reading and the fun it brings.

Sharon Duggal’s The Handsworth Times was chosen for City Reads 2017 and A.F. Harrold’s Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away from the Circus (and Joined the Library) was the title for Young City Reads 2017.

Brighton Festival announces 2018 Children’s Parade theme

Brighton Festival is delighted to announce that the theme for the 2018 Children’s Parade - which will take place on Saturday 5 May - is Paintings. 

Each school will be allocated a painting from a selection which have been chosen to reflect the diversity of artists worldwide. The paintings will be studied and explored in detail in the schools before being presented in costume, music and carnival structures on the streets in May.

Jointly produced with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky, and supported By Yeomans Toyota Brighton for the second year and for the first time by the University of Brighton, 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 around 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 to the Prince Regent and Fat Boy Slim. This year participants donned costumes ranging from cats and clowns to The Giant Jam Sandwich in homage the theme of Poetry in Motion which was chosen by poet, rapper and musician Kate Tempest who headed up Brighton Festival 2017 as Guest Director. The parade was let by Grammy-nominated Hot 8 Brass Band, who brought their New Orleans style to Brighton’s streets.

The 2018 theme, ‘paintings’, is inspired by visual artist David Shrigley, who was recently unveiled as the latest artistic figure to take up the role of shaping the three-week programme of cultural events as Guest Director. Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, his work also spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music. Nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013, Shrigley’s Really Good, a seven-metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, is the current incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth.

Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children & Family programmer says: “We were so impressed by the way that schools took their poems to heart last year and we believe that the same will happen with the paintings. The works will be studied and explored and become part of the school culture between November and May. This in-depth exploration of a work of art is something that most people don’t have the opportunity to do until they go to art school.”

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

John Varah, Artistic Director, Same Sky says: “Same Sky is very excited by the 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley and his theme for the parade. We will be working with 70 Brighton & Hove schools to create the parade and enable the children to hit the street with dazzling costumes, puppets and sounds. Same Sky once again thanks Brighton Festival for giving us this great opportunity to work with nearly every school in our wonderfully creative city.”

Luke Devitt-Spooner, General Manager at Yeomans Toyota Brighton says: 'Yeomans Toyota Brighton are once again proud to be supporting Brighton Festival’s Children's Parade. Bringing an ever-cleaner automotive future for our children's world with Hybrid, Electric and Hydrogen powered vehicles'

Hugh Jones, University Brighton says: “The University of Brighton are proud to sponsor the Children’s parade as part of their commitment to the city, creativity and education.”

Brighton Festival will take place from 5-27 May 2018. The full programme will be unveiled on 15 February 2018 but a handful of events have already been announced. These include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.

Visual artist David Shrigley named as Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director

We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Guest Director is the Brighton-based visual artist David Shrigley

Best known for his distinctive drawing style and works that make satirical comments on the absurdity of 21st-century society, Shrigley’s darkly humorous compositions reflect the inconsequential, the bizarre, and the disquieting elements of daily life. While drawing is at the centre of his practice, his work spans an extensive range of media including sculpture, large-scale installation, animation, painting, photography and music.

Widely admired by the art world and public alike, David Shrigley was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013 for his solo show David Shrigley: Brain Activity at the Hayward Gallery. In September 2016, Really Good, a 7 metre-high elongated bronze sculpture of a thumbs-up, was unveiled as the latest incumbent of Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth - described as the ‘tallest and most positive yet’. An active member of the Save the Arts campaign, Shrigley recently contributed a series of illustrations depicting the benefits of the arts to health and wellbeing to accompany a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.

On his appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director David Shrigley says:

“The great thing about Brighton Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’ve never heard of before. What I’m looking forward to about the role of Guest Director is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.”

David Shrigley is the first visual artist to take on the role of Guest Director since the inaugural Guest Director, Anish Kapoor in 2009. Other previous Guest Directors include the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest (2017), pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who led the 50th Brighton Festival in 2016, award-winning author Ali Smith (2015) and musician Brian Eno (2010) who have all taken turns shaping the three-week programme of cultural events.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says:

“Like Brighton Festival, David Shrigley’s work is for everyone. Both powerful and funny, his work manages to navigate ‘high’ and ‘low’ art and speak to an incredibly wide audience. Alongside his own artwork, he has also joined in championing the power of the arts to help health and wellbeing. We are thrilled that David is bringing his distinctive take to the Festival and the city he has now made his home. We look forward to a programme that we hope will entertain and inspire.” 

Brighton Festival 2018 (5-27 May 2018) will feature new work from David Shrigley alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies.

Full programme details will be announced in February but a handful of events that can be revealed now include the co-commission Grand Finale by Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Associate Artist and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director Hofesh Shechter- a bold and powerful vision of a world in freefall, which has recently opened to glowing reviews at Sadler’s Wells; Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety, a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors; and The Voice Project’s The Arms of Sleep, an overnight choral sleepover experience in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images.

Next year’s Festival will also continue its emphasis on programming work in the community with the return of Your Place - two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Artists, community groups and an artist-in-residence are currently being sought to take part in Your Place 2018.

Following its successful trial last year, the Pay-it-Forward scheme will also return for 2018. Audiences are encouraged to donate £5 (or an amount of their choosing) on top of ticket prices as they complete their purchase, which is then match-funded by Brighton Festival to give a special £10 Pay-It-Forward Festival Ticket Voucher (valid for all Festival events) to someone unable to afford the opportunity. The response last year was phenomenal with over 1000 people choosing to pay tickets forward in the lead up to the Festival.

Brighton Festival will run 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be announced on Thursday 15 February 2018. 

Read an interview with David Shrigley on his appointment as Guest Director

First shows announced for Brighton Festival 2018

Ahead of the full programme launch on Thurs 15 Feb 2018, here’s a quick round-up of the Brighton Festival events that have already been revealed…

Hofesh Shechter: Grand Finale

Brighton Festival co-commission

This latest work from internationally-celebrated choreographer (and Brighton Festival 2014 Guest Director) Hofesh Shechter is a spectacularly bold and ambitious new piece featuring ten dancers. Designed by Tom Scutt with lighting by Tom Visser, Grand Finale is at once comic, bleak and beautiful, evoking a world at odds with itself, full of anarchic energy and violent comedy. Filtering this irrepressible spirit, Shechter creates a vision of a world in freefall, part gig, part dance, part theatre and wholly original.

Produced by Hofesh Shechter Company and commissioned by Georgia Rosengarten. Commissioning partners are Sadler's Wells, Théâtre de la Ville-Paris / La Villette-Paris and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival


The Voice Project: The Arms of Sleep

Brighton Festival co-commission

An overnight choral sleepover experience created by directors Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker in which audiences encounter a unique dream-like and immersive night of music and stories, sound and images. Guests will be given a bed each and spend the night surrounded by sound and shadows, drifting between sleep and wakefulness. The ethereally beautiful music has been written by Helen Chadwick, Orlando Gough and Jonathan Baker.

Co-commissioned by Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. Co-produced by Norfolk & Norwich Festival and The Voice Project. The Arms of Sleep premiered at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017.


Calixto Bieito: The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety

The tempestuous relationship between sex, anxiety and music comes to a head in a remarkable new production from one of Europe’s most exciting theatre directors, Calixto Bieito. Music and drama collide as the award-winning string powerhouse The Heath Quartet performs alongside an equally stunning quartet of actors to deliver an unmissable montage of melody and madness. The eight artists will take you on a journey through time to explore how our innermost thoughts battle with our artistic impulses.

Presented by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, in association with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Holland Festival.


Your Place

19-20 May 2018, Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park
26-27 May 2018, Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields

Two weekends of free performances and arts activities in Hangleton and East Brighton. Delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre and community steering groups, both weekends will present international and national artists alongside local artists and community groups. Artists, community groups and an artist-in-residence are currently being sought to take part in Your Place 2018

Visual artist David Shrigley is the Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director. Read the full Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director announcement.

Brighton Festival 2018 will take place from 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be unveiled on Thu 15 February 2018.

INTERVIEW: Brighton Festival 2018 Guest Director David Shrigley

The visual artist and cartoonist on following in the footsteps of the illustrious roster of Brighton Festival Guest Directors, his love of art, music and football and why he decided to make Brighton his home

When you were first approached to be Guest Director of Brighton Festival, what was it that prompted you to say yes? What most excites you about the role?

When I was approached to be the Guest Director of Brighton Festival, I said yes because I thought it was going to be fun! What I’m most looking forward to is having the opportunity to not only see a lot of stuff and programme stuff but also make some artwork myself and have it presented in the place where I live. I think it’s a really nice way to communicate with people, to meet people and to invite people to come to Brighton.

You’re following in the footsteps of the likes of Anish Kapoor, Laurie Anderson and Brian Eno in accepting the role of Guest Director, how does it feel to be taking up the baton from such company?

It feels pretty flattering given the illustrious roster of people who have fulfilled this role before me, so, yeah, I feel quite humbled to be in such company.

Are there any particular dream artists on your wishlist for Brighton Festival this year?

I think it would be good if David Bowie would come back from the dead and play at the Festival, but that’s probably not going to happen! The great thing about the Festival is that you see things that are really thrilling and wonderful that you’d never heard of before. So, what I’m really looking forward to is the stuff that people haven’t heard of before, that they’re going to be surprised and amazed by.

You’ve recently moved to Brighton, what drew you here and what has been your relationship with the city and the Festival to date?

I lived in Glasgow for 27 years until two years ago when I moved to Brighton because I fancied it, because the weather’s nicer than Glasgow and it’s a town that I’ve always really liked. My sister used to live here in the 1990s so I used to visit quite a lot and I have very happy memories of being here then. When I first started visiting Brighton with a view to moving here, it was around the time of the Festival that Ali Smith was the Guest Director, and it seemed like there was a lot going on, it was super busy and there was a lot of interesting stuff to go and see. The Festival is a great time to be in Brighton.

I hear you’re a fan of Whitehawk football club. Is that something you’ve got into since you moved to Brighton?

I started going to watch Whitehawk play football pretty soon after I moved here. I’m a bit of a football nerd, and I tend to go and watch football wherever I go. I really enjoy watching Whitehawk because it’s a lot of fun, and because the fanbase have really good politics. They are anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, which I think is very important, and is very refreshing, having been a football fan since the 1970s. I also like the fact that you can drink beer and take your dog to Whitehawk.



How important are arts and culture to your own life, and what do you think festivals like Brighton Festival can bring to communities?

The things that I like most in life are art, music, and football, and I think a lot of people like those things as well. I think people need to value the arts perhaps more than they do, because they are very important culturally, but also in terms of people’s wellbeing. Engagement with the arts has a real therapeutic value as well as a cultural value, an entertainment value, and that’s something I’m very passionate about.

You are a member of the Save the Arts campaign, why is it important to you to support the campaign?

I’ve been involved with a few arts organisations that have a political dimension to them. I’ve been involved in community education for a lot of years when I lived in Glasgow, and I’m the patron of a charity for a children’s art gallery there. I’ve been involved in the Save the Arts campaign, which was a lobbying group to campaign not to cut arts funding from the government. More recently I’ve been involved in a policy document about the arts, health and wellbeing, which is to illustrate the value of the arts for people’s health and wellbeing, and how it can be something that needs to be taken seriously by government in those terms, rather than just as entertainment or culture – it’s also a very valuable thing for people’s day to day lives.

Your sculpture - a giant bronze thumbs-up called Really Good – can currently be seen on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. How did you feel about being asked to do such a prestigious commission and what role do you think public art plays?

I wrote a kind of slightly ironic blurb about it where I said that basically it was going to make the world a better place through some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, where you say that everything’s really good and then it becomes really good. And, in a way, that was ironic because it’s slightly ridiculous to suggest that a giant sculpture makes the world a better place. But then at the same time, as an artist, you have to believe that what you do makes the world a better place on some level. So I guess that piece has a strange duality to it, in that it’s both ironic and sincere at the same time.

Brighton Festival 2018 will take place from 5-27 May 2018. Full programme details will be unveiled on Thurs 15 February 2018.

Your Place returns for Brighton Festival 2018

Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free entertainment in Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - is set to return for 2018 following last year’s inaugural programme.

Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place brought a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. A resounding success, over 2000 people took part in Your Place across the two weekends, with participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.

Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director Kate Tempest said of the thinking behind the initiative: “We thought it was important that as well as having this very exciting, cosmopolitan festival happening in the city centre, with all this buzz and hype and all this energy that gets built up from people seeing something, spilling out on to the street, it also represented the wider population of Brighton who maybe can’t afford to get in to the city centre. We wanted to bring a bit of what was happening in the Brighton Festival out to a bit more of Brighton.”

2017 highlights included workshops and performances from Kate Tempest, acclaimed photographer Eddie Otchere, award-winning poetry slam champion Tommy Sissons, Appalachian folk artists Anna and Elizabeth and a new Brighton Festival commission from Three Score Dance and Ceyda Tanc Youth Dance company. Discover more about this year's Your Place:



Valerie Foucher, Hangleton Community Centre Manager and a member of the Steering Group said: “When we were told our premises had been chosen for Your Place it was fantastic news yet we were so far from imagining that it would be such a collaborative process. Bringing an entire weekend of workshops and performances with so many talented artists and a technical and front house back up of such high standard, not to mention having Kate Tempest perform her Let Them Eat Chaos album was so amazing we still haven’t fully recovered from it. Most importantly it has inspired us. Your Place has opened a door that we do not want to close again.”

Brighton Festival and Brighton People’s Theatre are currently looking for small-scale performances, workshops or exhibitions by local community groups, schools, youth groups and local artists living in Hangleton or East Brighton, as well as professional artists to be a part of Your Place 2018.

Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre said: “Having amazing artists like Kate Tempest performing in community centres in the city created a fantastic buzz. We'll be building on what worked so well and are also introducing two new elements to Your Place in 2018. One is a co-commission between Brighton Festival and Brighton People's Theatre to put an artist in residence into community centres in East Brighton and Hangleton who will collaborate with local people to create a new performance for Your Place. The second is programming art made by the local community. We know there is a lot of creativity in Hangleton and East Brighton and we hope to hear from local choirs, school shows, youth music groups, knitting or crafting groups who would like to be part of the Your Place programme."

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “Bringing Brighton Festival together each year is a great privilege, but it is vital to us that the Festival continues to reflect and involve the whole city. One of the key things about Your Place is that the communities have been really engaged in the overall planning and management of the project and it felt really important to be able to build on this work and the relationships we have developed again this year. Our hope is that this project will continue to expand and grow and become something that everyone looks forward to as part of Brighton Festival each year.”

Your Place 2018 will take place in Hangleton Community Centre and Hangleton Park (19-20 May 2018) and Manor Gym, basketball court and playing fields in East Brighton (26-27 May). 

If you would like to find out more about how to get involved in Your Place 2018 please visit our webpage

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.

TOUR DATES

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.

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.

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.’

Our sponsors' top picks for Brighton Festival 2017

We asked a few of our sponsors what they were most excited about for Brighton Festival 2017. Here are their top picks.

ZSTA - Richard Zinzan – Partner

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

10 or more

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round? 

Yes

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

Chineke Orchestra

Kate Tempest with Mica Levi

This Bright Field (though not seen it yet!)

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

This is ZST architects second year supporting the Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. As a local creative architectural and Interior design practice we are passionate about culture, arts and the city. It’s important for local businesses to support the festival to allow it to continue on with its pioneering spirit and experimental reputation. The festival really puts Brighton on the cultural map and celebrates its individual atmosphere that we are all proud to be part of.

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Gary Miller – GM Building

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see? 

This year I am attending 15 events (17 if you include the all the Gabriel Plays as separate shows). I am a patron as well as a sponsor so talking to the programmers and other Patrons usually informs my choices and also The festival director, Andrew, gives a preview of the festival to the patrons which is an invaluable insight into what to expect.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round? 

Reasonably regular , I come to plays, Spectrum, rock and Pop concerts in the Dome and the odd comedy event.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

As the festival is not over difficult to say what my top pick are. But I do think the Gabriel plays will be good. Swan lake and Kate Tempests Chaos were both stunning, and I have heard nothing but praise for the Birds, and this is the sort of event that you can only see at a festival like Brighton.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

I came to the festival via the children’s parade and my daughter’s desire to be a contemporary dancer and a desire to understand the workings of an industry that was alien to me. But I continue to support the festival as it is difficult not to be moved by the enthusiasm, hard work and sheer skill of the performers and artists. Culture is a very important part of what makes Brighton the vibrant place it is and without the Dome and Festival it would be a lot duller.

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University of Sussex - Laura McDermott - Creative Director

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

I see as much as I possibly can during Brighton Festival. I love festivals, the energy they bring to a city and how they help you see your environment afresh. I'll see several events each week - obviously everything at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, where we are co-producing a programme of events including the Uk Premiere of The Public Theater's The Gabriels trilogy by Richard Nelson. I also prioritise events that are in interesting or unusual spaces - in venues like The Spire or outdoors - up on the downs or out at sea.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

Yes - I love visiting Brighton Dome, especially for gigs in the opulent concert hall. Last time I went (to see Future Islands) a musician in the support band referenced the fact that the hall used to be the stables of the palace. She said "we're all like Prince Regent's horses". It seemed a good excuse to jump about dancing.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

Lynnette Walworth's Collisons at Lighthouse (part of the Australia in Brighton strand of the festival) - a beautifully cinematic and political use of virtual reality, which has had a real-world impact.

For the Birds by Jony Easterby et al - a truly magical woodland adventture after-dark, sensitively installed amongst the trees in a secret location up on the South Downs.

Mykki Blanco at The Spire, presented by The Marlborough Pub & Theatre - the hottest ticket, this will be a truly iconic festival closing party.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

University of Sussex is serious about its commitment to the local community and Brighton Festival is a brilliantly visible, celebratory way to demonstrate that commitment, alongside the work the University and its students undertakes year round in service to our community.

The University of Sussex are supporters of Brighton Festival. Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, part of the University of Sussex, are also co-producers for Brighton Festival 2017.

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Vicky King – GSFW

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

I always try to attend a handful of events during Brighton Festival and the launch event is the best insight into the upcoming schedule – then it’s home with a highlight to work my way through the programme!

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

I absolutely love the Brighton Dome as a venue and attend numerous music gigs, comedy performance and dance acts throughout the whole year.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

Hot 8 Brass Band – I have heard great things about this group and they didn’t disappoint! I couldn’t stand still, such a fun and lively atmosphere! For the Birds – such an unusual but interesting event, it is nothing I have experienced before but such a great opportunity to get outdoors. Breakin Convention – I love dance and music combined and this event is perfect. Looking forward to seeing the amazing talent on display.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

As a firm, this is our third year supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. We feel that is it part of the Brighton community and culture and without the support of local businesses it wouldn’t be able to continue. The events that this venue and Festival allows us all to be part of is truly spectacular and we look forward to supporting for many years to come.

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Ben Copper – Nutshell Construction

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

What we attend, and how often, differs year on year. The past few years have been a particularly exciting time to be working in UK construction, so we always expect to learn about emerging trends whenever we network at the Festival. For us, it’s all about mixing with a variety of different specialisms, from architects and designers, to local technology companies to get a real flavour of what’s going on in the South East inside and outside our bubble!

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

We happen to come from a family of folk singers so the arts are an incredibly important part of who we are and what we do. That’s why we try to support the Dome and the variety of acts it hosts all year round. As well as visiting a range of events and performances, we’re also lucky enough to regularly host our very own events in this historical and beautiful venue.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

With a whole month of incredible events, it’s tricky to pick just 3. One of our top highlights has to be the Your Place programme, which we’re incredibly proud to have been involved in this year. It truly brought Brighton’s communities together, which is what we think the Festival is all about.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

As a Sussex company to the core, we truly value everything to do with the community and its culture. The Brighton Festival is a hugely important part of what makes the city and the county as a whole and we are always proud to be part of it. The festival also allows us to talk to clients old and new in a different setting from our usual building sites. 

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Lulu.com

How many events do you attend in Brighton Festival and how do you choose what you see?

We attended the opening day of the festival and we were stationed in the Dome throughout the day and so were delighted to see the children's carnival when we arrived and also the Kate Tempest opening gig. Throughout the afternoon in the Dome we were lucky to be able to listen to children playing music from the schools around Brighton.

Are you a regular audience member at Brighton Dome year-round?

This is the first year we have sponsored the festival and our first visit to the beautiful Dome.

What are your top 3 picks of the Brighton Festival 2017 programme and why?

The Children's Parade was fantastic and the carnival animals were made with such care and attention. Many of the animal creations were brought into the Dome after the carnival and it was quite something to see an 8ft+ high duck coming through the door of the Dome.

The Kate Tempest opening gig was electric and a sell out and the Dome was alive and buzzing as people arrived.

Why are you supporting Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival?

We are supporting the theme of Everyday Epic by running a short story writing competition in conjunction with Brighton Festival and nabokov's Storytelling Army. We are delighted to be able to bring together the most basic of human conditions, that of verbal story telling into the written form. 


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.

Brighton Festival Live: The Big Song

The Big Song will be live streamed on Mon 22 May, 7.30pm

The universe sings. Planets sing. Comets sing. The earth itself rings like a bell and vibrates with sound. So, instead of the Big Bang, could there have been the Big Song?

The Big Song is a glorious celebration of singing that sweeps from science to spirituality, prehistory to protest, and reminds us of the central role of song in our identity and civilisation.

By Heathcote Williams, narrated by Roy Hutchins

Arrangement & Musical Direction by Kirsty Martin, featuring Hullabaloo Quire, Raise the Roof Community Choir and RISE Up Singing.

Filmed and edited in partnership with Brighton Metropolitan College