Over 100 art installations, performances, talks and events took place across Brighton & Hove and East Sussex and online across the month of May, with some events extending into June due to popular demand.
We are enormously grateful to everyone who attended an event - be it in person, online or through the innovative digital applications that were on offer this year. Guest director Lemn Sissay’s artistic vision and theme of care couldn’t have been more timely and it resonated with so many people across the world.
Artists, behind the scenes creatives, partner venues and programmers all rose to the challenge of adapting and re-shaping their work to be delivered in line with Covid-19 regulations and guidance.
Brighton Festival has done remarkably well under such difficult circumstances and made us feel very safe. Audience Member at a Classical Lunchtime Concert
This year's Festival would not have been possible without your valued support. Our thanks go to our principal funders, Arts Council England, Brighton & Hove City Council and the Culture Recovery Fund, and our Major sponsor University of Sussex. Thanks to all our sponsors for their generous support, as well as the gifts from all our supporters, donors and audience members which helped make Brighton Festival 2021 a reality.
With highly restricted in-person event capacity, artists adapted and invented new ways to share their stories, creating intimate and powerful experiences that spoke to the radical shifts in everyone’s lives. Overall audience attendance across free events (outdoor, indoor installations and online) reached 60,000, with ticketed attendance reaching 20,000, including 2,000 participating online. Outdoor events reached a capacity of 91%, while indoor events averaged 78%, in part due to social distance booking restrictions. The festival employed over 300 freelance artists and creative workers and just over 100 people volunteered, marking the first steps in the recovery of Brighton & Hove’s vital cultural sector.
When they started to sing, it brought tears to my eyes. That is the power of a live performance when you have missed it so much.Well done for all your efforts of the last year to be able to bring live acts back to us. Audience Member at Eliza & Martin Carthy: East
Guest director Lemn Sissay’s online public storytelling website, Tell Me Something About Family attracted over 1,000 contributions from America to Australia with moving and heartfelt memories of family life.
Ray Lee’s spectacular outdoor installation, Points of Departure saw 6000 visitors coming to Shoreham Port, with sold-out events across three weeks and extra dates added due to its popularity.
Such a wonderful experience, set in a perfect venue for it (Shoreham Harbour). All staff were superbly organised, welcoming and friendly. Perfect, as always! Audience Member at Ray Lee’s Points of Departure
Arrivals & Departures, Tell Me Something, HERstory, Tenebrae, Pier to Pier, The Candle Project, Robot Selfie and Rider Spoke all gathered, reflected and celebrated the stories and participation of people across communities. Young people were nurtured, mentored and given a creative platform through projects with LOOKOUT! and Little Green Pig and new commissions were launched by internationally acclaimed locally-based artists Jane Horrocks, Tim Crouch, Neil Bartlett and Paule Constable.
Tenebrae, a Brighton Festival commission with theatre director Neil Bartlett, allowed the Theatre Royal to re-open its doors to the public for the first time since lockdown. The poignant and emotional sound and light performance ran from sunrise to sunset and was fully booked across the day.
Our Place returned for a fourth year and with a new community location at Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, bringing much needed entertainment to residents who had been isolated through lockdown.
What an incredibly magical way to come back to live music. Gentle, holding, but full of energy and life - I left feeling like my soul had been massaged. Audience Member at Catrin & Seckou
Artists Yara & Davina displayed their Arrivals & Departures boards in Royal Pavilion Gardens, with 1,120 names submitted by the public in just over a week to commemorate the births and deaths of loved ones, the highest number than in previous locations.
The enormous effort and extra planning required due to Covid safety was all worth it and we hope with this renewed confidence we can look forward to bringing Brighton Festival back next year, bigger and bolder than ever with new ideas for artistic collaboration.
We hope to see you in 2022!
It was amazing to hear live music again - and it felt completely Covid-safe. Audience Member at Strings of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra