Brighton Festival 2020Public booking opens: Wed 19 Feb, 9am

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Brighton Festival looks forward to 2021 with Lemn Sissay returning as Guest Director

Following Brighton Festival’s digital programme during lockdown, poet and author Lemn Sissay MBE has confirmed he will return as guest director in 2021. Brighton Festival at Home featured a selection of artists and events that were due to take place across the city in May. The alternative version attracted online audiences from across the world - from local school children and families taking part in their own mini children’s parade to Lemn Sissay’s live reading with viewers joining from Africa to America.




Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“We are delighted that Lemn has agreed to stay on as guest director and we are determined to plan ahead for next year with live events, as well as using the lessons learned from this digital experience. The public’s support, through donating back ticket purchases, making a voluntary donation or accepting a credit voucher, shows the level of affection for Brighton Festival. There has been a huge gap in the city’s cultural life this year and we want to deliver a Festival that is stronger than ever but is also responsive to how arts events will need to adapt to make audiences feel safe. Lemn’s artistic vision and the way he can speak to all of us about the things that really matter feels vitality important now. We can all look forward to Brighton Festival 2021 infused with his creative input and imagination.”

Due to the coronavirus crisis, Brighton Festival 2020 was cancelled for the first time in its 53-year history and as a registered charity, lost almost 65% of its income that would have come from ticket sales.

On his re-appointment as guest director, Lemn Sissay commented:

“This year has taught us that everything cannot be mended but the act of trying is everything. The arts bring people together, whether they are in a physical space or on a digital platform. Artists are resilient, creative and forward-thinking in making sense of the world and we can take this exciting opportunity to shape Brighton Festival for a brave new world. I’m honoured to see where it will take us and to be with you to experience it together.”

Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA nominated award winning writer, best-selling author, prolific speaker and performer who has inspired audiences across the world. He was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics and his Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day.

Each year, Brighton Festival attracts over 150,000 visitors to its events across three weeks in May. It contributes significantly to the event and tourism economy in Brighton & Hove, alongside events such as Brighton Fringe, The Great Escape, Charleston Festival and Artists Open Houses. Established in 1967, it is the largest and most established annual multi-arts festival in England, a celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events in venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and East Sussex. The Festival attracts the most exciting performers from across the globe, as well as promoting local artists and bringing fresh, challenging new work to the region.

Brighton Festival 2021 is due to take place from 1-23 May 2021, to help secure its future, donations can be made by Text BTNFEST to 70970 for £5 or 70191 for £10 or visit brightonfestival.org/donate

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival Supports #FreelanceTaskForce

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival is committed to supporting freelance theatre and performance creatives during these uncertain times. Along with more than 138 other arts organisations we signed this open letter and are offering a paid freelance contract for three months this summer.

The Freelance Task Force member has now been appointed, read more here. 

An Open Letter to Theatre and Performance Makers  

This is a letter to self-employed and freelance theatre and performance makers in the UK. To the actors, playwrights, directors, choreographers, stage managers, designers, stage crews and set-builders to name just a few.

We really miss being with you during this period of lockdown. Making theatre and performance is a collaborative endeavour, so we are particularly affected by having to be apart from one another right now. We’re not able to come together, in the same space, to share the experience of a live performance. We’re not able to practise and enjoy our artform in its most basic form.

It’s now looking increasingly likely that won’t be possible for months to come, and we recognise that many freelancers face real uncertainty about if and how they will be able to continue to work in theatre. 70% of people who work in theatre and performance in the UK are freelance or self-employed, and it’s for this workforce, in all its diversity and complexity, that the impact of the current situation is most acute.

During these past weeks we have had conversations with many of you to understand your needs and the ways you have been affected. We are writing to express our support for you, and to lay out some practical steps we are taking to improve the situation based on these conversations.

As well as exploring ways of producing work with freelancers during lockdown, and using this time to develop new projects with freelancers for the future, we are also are working together to coordinate our response to the government, to articulate clearly what we can offer and what we need.

Most urgently, we are calling for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme to be extended in line with furloughing, for all self-employed workers, and in the specific case of theatre and performance workers, until theatres are able to safely reopen. We also want to see criteria removed from the scheme which are stopping legitimate and much-needed claims.

Some of you are already involved in these conversations. We welcome your voices and need to hear from more of you in the conversations to come. Your unique networks, skillsets, perspectives, and ideas are vital to the entire sector, and we need to work with you in our response to this crisis.

Each of the organisations who’ve signed this letter are committed to reaching out to their family of self- employed and freelance theatre makers; listening to how this is affecting your work and lives, and to your needs and ideas for the future.

More than that, we want to facilitate the establishment of a national task force of self-employed theatre and performance makers. The purpose of the task force is to strengthen the influence of the self-employed theatre and performance community. It would create ongoing points of connection between freelancers and organisations, and amplify the voice of the self-employed in the conversations to come. To help establish the task force, each of the organisations signing this letter will support a freelancer to join the group, ensuring they are paid for their time.

We want to offer a message of hope and solidarity. Our well-practised ability to work together, to form connections, and build relationships will help us through this. One day, hopefully soon, we will all be able to meet together, as people have done for centuries, in a shared space, for a shared experience. In the meantime, we remain committed to working for you and with you towards a sustainable future for theatre and performance.

Love Letters at Home will premiere at Brighton Festival at Home

Love Letters at Home will premiere at Brighton Festival at Home on Wed 20 May 2020. 

Fuel have announced a digital international tour of Uninvited Guests’ acclaimed show Love Letters Straight From Your Heart. The new digital version of the show Love Letters at Home will be performed live via Zoom to an audience of up to 90 (45 pairs) each night and will ‘visit’ 14 venues throughout the UK and beyond. 

Love Letters at Home is a joyful, open-hearted show that will help people feel connected at a time when many are isolated and missing their loved ones. First performed by Uninvited Guests in 2007, the original show was a critical hit and played to audiences at over 30 venues including Southbank Centre, RSC Stratford, Fierce Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe.

Directed by Paul Clarke and devised by performers Jess Hoffmann and Richard Dufty, Love Letters at Home is somewhere between a wedding reception and a radio dedication show. Before the performance, audience members are invited to send in music requests, dedications and declarations of love to those they care about past and present. These words are incorporated into each performance; dedications are spoken, toasts are made, speeches are given, songs are sung and dances danced. Every performance of Love Letters at Home is unique and collaboratively authored with its audience, who temporarily become a close community for the duration of the event.

Kate McGrath, Director of Fuel said:



‘A few weeks ago, we had an idea: could we bring Love Letters online? We found that this beautiful, moving show, which has always had the power to bring people together, translates brilliantly into a digital platform. Because the audience is at the heart of the production, the shared participatory experience comes close to recreating the feeling of a night out at a physical venue. It’s exciting that people all over the world will now be able enjoy this and I hope that it will go some way towards bringing people closer together.’

Love Letters at Home has been commissioned by First Art, a Creative People and Places project, as part of its Go the Distance remote festival for audiences in Ashfield, Mansfield, Bolsover and North East Derbyshire.

Love Letters at Home will premiere at Brighton Festival at Home on Wed 20 May 2020. Participant numbers to this event are limited. Fill in this form for a chance to be invited.

Socially Engaged Art Salon Exhibition Goes Digital

This May, Socially Engaged Art Salon’s (SEAS) latest exhibition, somewhere was due to take place throughout Brighton Festival. In response to the coronavirus crisis, the exhibition is now available online. Discover the exhibition here.

In 2019, SEAS commissioned artist Maria Amidu to create a new collaborative work framed by the themes of migration and displacement. The work began with a potluck meal at SEAS, entitled, a seat at the table for seven visual artists whose artistic practices have been influenced by experiences of ‘being from elsewhere’.

 

To catalyse the conversation during the meal Maria made place cards using envelopes she stencilled with the words: homeland, recipes, art, journeys, culture, identity and displacement, instead of the artists’ names. Each envelope contained a handwritten provocation. Midway through the lunch, Maria asked each artist to open their envelope and speak for five minutes about what their word evoked for them. The conversations that took place as a result were recorded. 



Listening to these conversations a few weeks later Maria wrote seven short texts using the process of free writing using one word from each of the artists' monologue as a starting point and writing within a self-imposed, 15-minute deadline. The prompt words from the recording and the provocations words from the meal were: cause (homeland); craving (recipes); urge (art); erasure (journeys); drops (culture); water (identity); and booklet (displacement). 

Central to the exhibition is somewhere, Maria’s resulting commission piece. Visitors to the site can watch one-minute, experimental films she created using a mobile phone, overlaid with the artists reading the texts.  Pages from the artist book and the original texts are also featured on the site.


somewhere is testament to the stories told during a seat at the table, by artists with migrant and refugee background and speaks to the troublesome, contingent and precarious nature of being from elsewhere.

On Sat 15 May, SEAS will be facilitating a Zoom meeting to discuss socially engaged art in the time of social distancing. They welcome those working in the creative industry to discuss how artists can engage with their communities while maintaining social distancing.  Register for the event here. 

Find out more about Maria Amidu: www.mariaand.co 


Brighton Festival Thanks Everyone At Home

1500 ticket buyers have donated back their ticket purchases to Brighton Festival after it was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis. As a thank you for the public’s on-going support and generosity, Brighton Festival is offering a selection of free online events, featuring artists who would have performed in Brighton this May, along with contributions from artistic partners.

Brighton Festival at Home began with the Children’s Parade at Home on Sat 2 May and continues with live performances; family-friendly activities; artist masterclasses and a few surprise messages from famous faces, scheduled across digital platforms throughout May when the Festival would have been in full swing across the city.


This year’s Brighton Festival Guest Director, Lemn Sissay MBE will host an exclusive live reading and debate based on his best-selling memoir, My Name is Why. Reflecting on a childhood in foster care, self-expression and Britishness, Lemn will be in conversation with writer Hannah Azieb Pool, with questions invited from the public.

Brighton-based Rachel Blackman was due to perform the world premiere of her Festival commissioned show and will create a new adaptation live from her home. Tiny Failures will see Rachel interview a guest artist to recount their personal life disasters, in an uplifting and humorous look at how we can all take comfort from each other’s mistakes.


On Saturday 9 May at 10pm, Brighton Festival will partner with Sam Lee’s Singing with Nightingales, a live audio broadcast taking listeners on a journey into the Sussex woods to hear nightingale birdsong mixed with a real-time duet with guest musician Alice Zawadksi and a special poetry reading by Lemn Sissay.

I Fagiolini performs Monteverdi: The Other Vespers at Brighton Festival 2017

Comedians Sofie Hagen and Mark Watson give us a glimpse into how they’re coping with life in lockdown with short video sketches. Performance artist Rachel Mars reveals the secrets behind a celebrity love letter in an intimate late-night video chat with friends. British vocal ensemble, I Fagiolini will be offering a sing-along musical lesson with their performers led by acclaimed director Robert Hollingworth. Australian circus act Gravity & Other Myths share their acrobatic skills in a series of physical tutorials. Drag Queen Story Hour UK’s Aida H Dee will bring her own unique style with a fun and educational reading for families to enjoy together. And in an exclusive partnership with Fuel Theatre, the festival will be running a competition to win an invitation to take part in Love Letters Straight From Your Heart, a live participatory event in which the audience and actors offer dedications and declarations of love, past and present.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the way our audiences responded to the news of the festival’s cancellation. By donating in such numbers our community has shown how much the festival means to them and enabled us to look forward to the future with confidence that it will return. Although we can’t replicate the festival experience, we wanted to thank everyone for their support, connect online and keep the spirit of Brighton Festival alive. We are grateful to our guest director Lemn Sissay and the other artists who have offered to share their work digitally. The arts have the power to lift our spirits, inspire our imaginations and support our mental health during difficult times, and we hope online audiences enjoy a small part of the Festival at home this May.”

Brighton Festival is a registered charity and almost two thirds of the festival costs would have been covered by ticket sales. Brighton Festival at Home events are free to watch online and viewers have the option of contributing a suggested donation in order to help support the Festival’s future and its work with artists and community partner organisations.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic Brighton Festival 2020 was cancelled for the first time in its 53-year history. Scheduled to take place from 2 to 24 May 2020, the largest annual, multi-arts festival in England would have featured over 120 cultural events across the region, including 17 premieres, commissions, co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

The biennial caravan showcase brings the best of new English performance online

The caravan biennial showcase of English performance as part of Brighton Festival, has brought its 2020 programme to digital platforms in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Shaped in the same spirit of informality and accessibility, the digitised showcase will test ways of developing an international dialogue that seeks to minimise the environmental cost of global travel associated with the event.

The showcase has been running within the Brighton Festival since 2008, and introduces a curated group of England’s brightest performance companies, to festival organisers and programmers from around the world; with the ambition of developing new partnerships, collaborations and ways of working. 

On Mon 11 and Tue 12 May, a series of live events will be hosted on Zoom for registered delegates including provocations from guest speakers, pitches of new work and one-to-one meetings with artists. Artist and writer Andy Field will provide a narration to the showcase by hosting caravan radio, a series of podcasts featuring interviews with the artists, audio excerpts and sound pieces with the intention of helping the delegates to deepen their understanding of the artists and their work in a creative way. Alongside this, the caravan team will facilitate connections and conversations between artists and delegates through a dedicated Slack account.

Farnham Maltings produced artists Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas said: 

“Right now it feels more important than ever for us to be able to connect with presenters and fellow artists and be part of our wider community. We are so excited to be part of caravan’s digital showcase experiment and are really looking forward to having the chance to share and discuss with colleagues and friends what our future might hold and how we might begin to plan for it.If the current crisis has taught us one thing, it is that everything is connected”


Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings and caravan commented: “Almost all the solutions to how we live better and more sustainable lives, will come from understanding our place in the world, being generous and collaborating. caravan is our attempt to create the conditions for this to happen, to create a grass roots set of international relationships.”


To centralise all the new activity, a dedicated website is being created in which delegates can find out about the selected artists, watch film footage, book for the Zoom events and one-to-one artist meetings. This information will be shared in advance of the two-day event.

Registration remains open for delegates to attend the digital showcase. Contact Hannah Slimmon, International Producer at hannah.slimmon@farnhammaltings.com to take part.

Children’s Parade at Home Sat 2 May, 10.30am for 5 minutes

Help us keep the spirit of the Children’s Parade alive this year and have your own mini parades at home! 

All of us at Brighton Festival, and our artists at Same Sky were so sad to cancel this year’s Parade, that when received an email from Tobias at Balfour Primary asking if the parade could happen in a different way, we could not resist but do exactly that.

So, if you are from one of the 60 Brighton & Hove schools or thousands of children, teachers, parents, artists and volunteers who had already put in so much work into preparing for this year, then all of this love, creativity and imagination won’t be lost. 

And if you are not, don’t worry because everyone is welcome! Young and old, local or global, let’s ALL come together and get creative in this celebration of our children, their creativity and incredible imaginations.


Whether you want to conga around your kitchen, wave a flag from your window, blow a whistle from your balcony, shimmy in your sitting room or dress-up on your doorstep – there is no set theme and anything goes!

At 10.30am on the day, we will signal the start the mini parade by sharing a samba drumming call on social media.

Share your creativity on our socials 

Tag #ChildrensParadeAtHome and @brightonfestival (and your school if you like!)
 If you are not on social media you can send pictures to marketing@brightonfestival.org And don’t forget to join the event on Facebook.

Need some inspiration?

Same Sky artists have created free and easy tutorials to make something fun from recycled materials found around the house such as a broom puppet, trumpets, masks and hats.
Click here for the artist tutorials

Other ideas include:

  • Dress up, make costumes, puppets, a mask, a headband, face paints
  • Sing, shout, bang pots, make noise with whatever you have to hand
  • Dance, prance, and pose!  

We hope you have lots of fun and thank you for taking part!

Please help us spread the word
You can use this image (right click to download it) on your feeds to show you are taking part
Brighton Festival Children's Parade Take Part Too



















Brighton Festival & Same Sky’s Children’s Parade is kindly sponsored by Southern Water. 


Thank you for your support

It is with great sadness that we have had to close the doors of Brighton Dome and cancel Brighton Festival in light of the current climate. As you can imagine, this wasn’t an easy decision to make but something we felt was right for not only our audience but staff and artists involved.

Since sharing this difficult news, we have been inundated with kind messages and words from members of the public. We wanted to take this time to say thank you!

Thank you for your thoughts.

Thank you for reaching out with kind words.

Thank you for continuing to support the arts.

Thank you from our CEO Andrew Comben:


The Arts and Culture sectors are going through a period of difficulty, as are other public venues. Most arts organisations, like ours, are charities, we are reliant on the talented artists who want to perform at our venue and the dedicated audiences who come along. With social-distancing and isolation becoming part of our day-to-day, how we keep the arts alive is changing. We are no longer able to pack the house out as we did before to share culture and creativity as a community! Now, we are relying on the support and kindness of the public to keep us going. In these dark moments, we want to create opportunities to keep the arts alive, we are working to find new digital ways to reach our audiences. And while we are hard at work with that, we are so grateful for all those who are quietly, or loudly, cheering us along. So far we have received a total donation of £2.5k from ticket purchases which shows the generosity of a community in need.

Below we have shared a few of our favourite words of encouragement that we’ve received in person, over email or on our social media platforms. This is our way of saying THANK YOU, to give a little back to you, and to keep those spirits high in these uncertain times.

We believe the arts inspire and change lives. And access to art for everyone is a universal human right. Now more than ever, art can lift our spirits, brighten our days and support our mental health. If you would like to see the ways to support Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, take a look here.

We also want to say a special Thank You for those who have contributed directly over the past few days. Your generosity does not go unnoticed, we are blown away by your kindness.

A Special Thank You

Robert, Rachel and Trustees at The Chalk Cliff Trust
Mel at Amex
Susan at Rayne Foundation
Margaret Field at Nursing Association Trust

Thank You for your words of support 


“Thank you for the email about sadly cancelling Brighton Festival. We currently live in very strange and worrying times. The term ‘uncharted waters ‘comes to mind.

I purchased tickets for 10 events - 2 tickets for each event. I would like very much to donate the money from these tickets to the Brighton Dome charity and therefore do not require a refund. I’ve listed below the events I booked to make it easier for you to correlate this with your system. Hope it helps.” – Valleri, via email

“Thoughts and thanks to everyone involved in what promised to be another incredible May jam-packed with arts and culture from around our city, country and globe. I hope everyone will support in whatever way they can, be it kind words, deeds or donations #brighton #arts #culture” – Dom, via Twitter

“So sorry to hear this but clearly the right decision in the circumstances - sending [love] to all involved, including the lovely people @brightfest who make it all happen. Fingers crossed that 2021 can be a vintage year!” Dan, via Twitter

“I am so gutted that @brightdome @brightfest 2020 has been cancelled. What a huge loss for everyone in the #Brighton area and the artists who come from all over the world.” Charlotta, via Twitter

“This is very sad news. What a devastating impact this virus is having. I am so sorry for you, for Andrew and all the team. I’m also sorry for us - the Festival is an important part of our lives and a focal moment of the year. Of course we will donate our ticket payments as donations. Please let me know if there’s any other way we can support you. Take care.” - Diane via email

“We had naturally feared this would happen and we are so sad for you and everyone who puts so much time and effort into making it such a wonderful and unique event. Please send our best to Andrew and the team and hope you all stay well. Beat wishes.” Julia & Jon, via email

“I knew this was inevitable but it is still a shock. So much effort goes into the planning of the Festival, it must be heart-breaking. I do feel for all the artists, musicians and performer whose livelihoods are disappearing event by event, venue by venue. Be assured of the support of those of us who love the Festival and admire all your work for it. Best wishes.” – Betty, via email

“It is a sad time for us all and I am sorry to hear that the Brighton Festival has been cancelled. As a supporter I would like to be of help and am donating the cost of all of my tickets to the Festival. Good luck. Best wishes.” – Helena, via email

“Brighton Festival is so important to the city, of which we are proud to be a part. We’re sending our support and love to the team and all the artists involved. We will be here for you when the Festival is back up and running - I know we will need you more than ever.” Steven Marshall-Taylor, Head of Senior School, Brighton College

This is a truly inspiring selection of the wonderful, local and national support that we feel here at Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. We believe that the arts can help the individual, inspire new ways of thinking and build an encouraging community. If you are interested in supporting us do take a look at our donation page.

Again, Thank You.

Gallery: Brighton Festival Brochure Covers 1967 - 1976

Look back through Brighton Festival's design history 

Check out the first ten years of Brighton Festival Programme Covers. 

Enjoy some graphic design through the decades, you can see more brochure covers here.



1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976


Brighton Festival 2020 is Cancelled for First Time in 53-Year History

It is with great sadness we announce that Brighton Festival 2020 is cancelled.

Based on the latest government advice around social distancing measures and the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK is projected to coincide with the timing of the Festival in May, all planned events have been suspended.

Brighton Festival was due to take place from 2 to 24 May 2020 and is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England. This is the first time since the Festival has been cancelled in its 53-year history. Over 120 cultural events were scheduled across the region, including 17 premieres, commissions, co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists. The annual Children’s Parade has also been affected and will not go ahead. Festival staff are working with artists and partners to discuss whether some events can happen at a later date or in a different way. Due to the scale of the festival and the inclusion of many international artists and touring companies, rescheduling the festival as a whole would not be feasible.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“The Festival team is devastated that this incredible programme, led by Guest Director Lemn Sissay won’t happen this year and that audiences won’t experience the diversity of artists coming from across the world to our city. Lemn’s vision was to build an ‘Imagine Nation’ at Brighton Festival. It seems to us that we need imagination, creativity and the strength of our community now more than ever. We are exploring what might be the most creative contribution the Festival and its artists can make at this time and we will share more on this when we can.

“We are aware that the whole of society is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but also realise the profound affect it will have on the cultural sector and on the economy of our city, to which the Festival is such an important contributor. It is vital we work together to support our staff, artists and partners and that Brighton & Hove’s rich cultural life can survive and emerge from this challenge, so we all continue our contribution to the life and wealth of the whole region.”

Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director, the acclaimed poet and author Lemn Sissay commented:

“The cancellation of Brighton Festival is a huge blow for us all but it’s also inevitable given the severity of what we all face. I believe artists have a role to play and a gift to offer and the creativity that is in us all reminds us of the preciousness and beauty of life. Let’s cherish that now and emerge from this with renewed humanity and strength.”

Customers who have booked tickets for events will be contacted by the Festival ticket office as soon as possible with refund information.

Brighton Festival is a registered charity and almost two thirds of the festival costs would have been covered by ticket sales. Ticket holders are being offered the option to donate some or all of their ticket purchase in order to help support the Festival’s future and its work with artists and community partner organisations.

Since it was first established in 1967, Brighton Festival has given artists and performers at the cutting edge of artistic practice and on the edge of society, the creative space to have their voices heard and to showcase new work.

Cllr Alan Robins, Chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, Brighton & Hove City Council added:

“The cancellation of this year’s Festival is disappointing but inevitable given the current circumstances and is absolutely the right decision. We look forward to the Festival returning next year.”

Brighton Dome closed on Tue 17 Mar and is cancelling or postponing its events programme until further notice.

Brighton Festival Brochure Covers: 1977 - 1986

Take a journey through Brighton Festival's design history 

Browse through our second decade of Brighton Festival programme covers. You can check out the first ten years here,

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1983

1984

1985

1986

Brighton Dome Temporary Closure from Tue 17 Mar 2020

Following the UK Government’s new advice today to the public to avoid contact in social spaces including theatres, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Brighton Dome will be temporarily closed for events with effect from Tue 17 Mar 2020. Anyone with tickets to forthcoming events will be contacted and we will be working with artists and performers to reschedule as many dates as possible. We realise this is a huge blow to the arts in our city, but feel the health and safety of our audiences should take priority. Please bear with us as we put these plans into place and thank you for your understanding at this time.

Invisible Flock premiere immersive rainforest installation at Brighton Festival 2020

Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio, Invisible Flock will present the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree in a disused warehouse space in Hove throughout Brighton Festival this May.  

The award-winning studio operates at the intersection of art and technology and makes innovative, participatory artworks that are experienced around the world. Drawing directly from the world around them the collective focuses on our emotional relationships to the natural world.

“We believe that art today must have a positive impact on society and the world we live in and as artists we have a responsibility to open up collective thinking and to build space for critical inquiry.”

Their recent works include Earth Tones, a global mapping project, capturing environmental data from a variety of landscapes at the forefront of climate change, whilst reimagining the information in multi-sensory art installations.

Their latest work, The Sleeping Tree is an immersive, three-dimensional, audio-visual experience of one of the last great rainforests of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The installation aims to emphasise the urgency of the threat to the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet.

Bringing UK audiences closer to the deforestation emergency in this distant and seemingly intangible ecosystem, the installation conveys a powerful sense of this endangered environment, flooding the senses with heat, mist, humidity and captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle. You will follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of the six majestic trees they have used for generations.


The Sleeping Tree has been developed through intensive research living in the jungle with Siamang Gibbons. Invisible Flock have captured over 5000 hours of audio recordings of this rare species in its diminishing natural habitat, collecting scientifically valuable data on sound frequencies as well as the temperature and humidity within the jungle, which indicate the rapid changes taking place in this fragile ecosystem, as result of palm oil production.

The Sleeping Tree will open on Sat 2 May until Sun 24 May. Book your tickets here.

Discover more Art and Film events.

This event is kindly supported by Selective Asia 

10 Must-see Art exhibitions in Brighton This May

Discover a range of art events and exhibitions happening in Brighton and beyond throughout May. 

Washed Up Car-go | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Hove Warehouse

Artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking Washed Up Car-go features iconic Brighton landscapes, film, music, toy sea creatures and a lot of local pebbles to ask us to think about plastic pollution, consumerism and maritime art.  


The Young Americans | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Phoenix Art Space

Today’s generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in this powerful new exhibition, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival and Rainmaker Gallery. Native artists from diverse tribal nations examine what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States with a display of fine art photography, printmaking and painting. Their explosive visual mix of techniques, experimentation and individual perspectives shatter clichéd perceptions of Indigenous art and life.


The Informals II | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
The Lighthouse

Artists Polina Medvedeva and Andreas Kühne present an interactive exhibition exploring music subcultures of Brighton, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival. Projections of video, text, music and dialogue tell stories of Brighton’s digital-savvy emerging talent who use musical culture to challenge stigmas and stereotypes at a time when politics is against them.

Come along to a live, improvised audio-visual performance on Wed 6 May, 5pm. The artists collaborate with local artists Phonetic, Bobbie Johnson, Ollie Hutchison and Marshall Mandiangu to create a collective portrait of, and give a platform to, Brighton’s extraordinary youth culture.


HALO | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
ACCA

HALO is a large-scale immersive installation made by renowned Brighton-based artist duo Semiconductor following a residency at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. The duo are known for their innovative artworks which explore the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lenses of science and technology, blending experimental moving image techniques, scientific research and digital technologies.Allowing us to look at and listen to this data gives audiences a sense of something bigger than themselves.The installation is a multi-sensory experience of matter formation in the early universe generated through projections and sound played out upon hundreds of vertical piano strings. To support this exhibition, The Lighthouse are producing a series of workshops. 


Art of Attachment | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
ONCA Gallery

Vincent Dance Theatre world premiere Art of Attachment commissioned by Brighton-based Oasis Project. The film installation combines sound and moving image, exploring the devastating impact physical, sexual and emotional abuse on women’s lives and the complex bond between substance misusing mothers and their children. Hard-hitting and deeply moving, Art of Attachment celebrates the resilience and resolve of women and children, whose stories demand to be seen and heard. 


Arrivals & Departures | Free
Sat 2-Mon 11 May
Friend’s Meeting House

YARA + DAVINA bring a public artwork about birth, death and the journey in between. Arrivals + Departures takes the recognisable form of an arrivals and departures board, displaying the names of people submitted by the public as a way of celebrating a birth (arrival) or commemorating a death (departure). Capturing both the joy and sadness of an arrival’s hall or departure lounge, visitors and passers-by can choose to contribute names to acknowledge, celebrate and commemorate. Names may range from the personal to the political, from our unsung personal heroes to national treasures, as they are shared on the large-scale artwork via a live interaction. 


A Simple Act of Wonder | Free
Sat 2-Sun 24 May
Fabrica Gallery & Moulsecoomb 

During May, through a series of colourful, collaborative interventions, acclaimed artists Walter & Zoniel bring their attention and irrepressible energy to Fabrica and Moulsecoomb, asking how we connect with each other as individuals and communities. 


The Sleeping Tree
Sun 2-Sun 24 May
Hove Warehouse

Yorkshire-based interactive arts studio, Invisible Flock will present the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree, an immersive, three-dimensional, audio-visual experience of one of the last great rain forests of North Sumatra, Indonesia. The installation conveys a powerful sense of this endangered environment, flooding the senses with heat, mist, humidity and captivating and microscopically accurate sounds of the jungle. You will follow a family of endangered Siamang Gibbons as they wake, roam across the jungle and return to their sleeping tree, one of the six majestic trees they have used for generations. 


Points of Departure
Thu 7-10 & Wed 13-Sun 17 May
Shoreham Port 

Ray Lee presents the world premiere of Points of Departure at Shoreham Port. Visitors are invited to take a walk through the atmospheric industrial landscape of Shoreham Port and experience the otherworldly sound and light installations. The installation is a series of giant towers holding suspended speaker cones which gradually swing higher and higher until each arm soars up over the heads of the audience ringing electronic tones. 


Discover the full programme here 

Pay it Forward Scheme

Pay It Forward (PIF) is a scheme that ensures everyone can enjoy Brighton Festival.

Introduced in 2017 by Guest Director, Kate Tempest, the Pay It Forward scheme will be entering its third year of bringing the together at Brighton Festival.

Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2020, Lemn Sissay welcomes everyone to unite, join in and reflect:

“The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. It’s just not true. There’s going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”

The generosity we received last year was incredible and we hope this year is no different. Here are some comments from previous PIF recipients:

“Connecting members of the community together again.”

“It's a fabulous opportunity! Many of the young people we work with would not be able to attend the paid events in the Brighton Festival without the scheme” - YMCA DownsLink Group

“It means I can access events I wouldn’t normally be able to afford to go to, even if I did want to see them.”

Join the Pay It Forward movement and help more people experience Brighton Festival. Pay an extra £5 when you book your tickets, or donate online, and we’ll put this towards giving a free ticket to someone who might not otherwise be able to attend. Vouchers will be distributed at Our Place, local schools, charities and partner organisations.

If you would like to get involved with the Pay It Forward scheme, please contact pif@brightonfestival.org

Welcome to the Imagine Nation with Lemn Sissay Brighton Festival 2020

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020.

Brighton Festival is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England and will feature over 120 events taking place in 27 venues and locations across the region - from the industrial landscapes of Shoreham Port and warehouses in Hove, to the suburban streets of Crawley and Moulsecoomb, theatres, community centres and cinemas in Worthing, Hangleton, East Brighton and Lewes. Artists experimenting and creating new work is at the heart of the Festival with 17 premieres, exclusives, commissions and co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists.

Lemn’s personal passions flow throughout the 2020 programme, connected by a love of words and language across theatre, song, spoken word, art and poetry. Contemporary writers and poets are given a particular spotlight with several spoken word and book events including The Time Has Now ComeLime Time, Take 5 and Vintage Poets. 


Lemn’s support for new and established Ethiopian artists features prominently with appearances by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, contemporary pianist/composer Samuel Yirga and writers Maaza Mengiste and Aida Edemariam. Marking the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s journey, a new generation of Indigenous American artists take centre stage in The Young Americans, a powerful new exhibition in partnership with Rainmaker Gallery at Phoenix Art Space that reveals what it means to grow up in the contemporary United States. And using art as a way to explore our most personal experiences will offer some of the most powerful events in the Festival. In Adopt A Nation, Lemn invites the public to adopt him in an intimate one-on-one experience that will ask participants to share their own thoughts about family; and his best-selling memoir My Name is Why is discussed in conversation with British-Eritrean writer Hannah Azieb Pool.

Guest Director Lemn Sissay explains how Imagine Nation is a place to join in, reflect and take time for a personal creative experience:

“The most damaging mirror trick in society is to convince people they have no imagination and that they are not creative. It’s just not true. There’s going to be something for you in this Festival. Broaden your horizons, be open and maybe try something different. Welcome to the Imagine Nation, welcome to the whole world in one celebration here at Brighton Festival 2020.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. We’re excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn’s encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an ‘Imagine Nation’ in which we can all take part.”

Thanks to our Sponsors for supporting Brighton Festival 2020: University of SussexSouthern WaterUniversity of BrightonBrighton CollegeDotsquaresGriffith SmithSelective AsiaSelits and Best of Brighton Holiday Lettings

We’re proud to announce our media partners are BBC Sussex, Radio Reverbtheartsdesk.com and Brighton & Hove Independent.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wed 12 February and general sale at 9am, Wed 19 February. 

Brighton Festival 2020 Highlights

The acclaimed British and Ethiopian poet, playwright, broadcaster and speaker, Lemn Sissay MBE has launched Brighton Festival 2020 welcoming everyone to the Imagine Nation from 2 to 24 May 2020.



Since it was first established in 1967, Brighton Festival has given artists and performers at the cutting edge of artistic practice and on the edge of society, the creative space to have their voices heard and to showcase new work. This year’s programme is no exception. Here are some highlights from Brighton Festival 2020 programme:


LGBTQ artists including Ivan Coyote, Amy Bell and Travis Alabanza recount their inspiring stories in dance, theatre and spoken word. Female empowerment is given a playful and provocative portrayal in Hot Brown Honey’s fusion of hip-hop and politics and comedian Josie Long tells her tale of first-time motherhood.


caravan, the bi-annual international showcase for English theatre and performing artists returns with a dynamic three days of new work attracting international promoters and presenters.


Several Festival events will involve individual opportunities to become involved in the art itself. Families and friends will be celebrated in Arrivals & Departures, an interactive public artwork located in Brighton’s Friends Meeting House garden that will be a changing display of names commemorating the birth or death of a loved one. In the world premiere of The Sleeping Tree, visitors will enter one of the last great rainforests of Indonesia through a live sensory environment and the UK premiere of Semiconductor’s HALO offers a mesmeric and consuming installation based on the Big Bang.

From Italy, Gabriella Salvaterra’s Sollievo invites the audience to travel through a candle-lit labyrinth in an intimate theatrical experience that explores the fragility of humanity and what can and can’t be repaired.


The annual Children’s Parade with Same Sky officially marks the start of the Festival on Saturday 2 May and this year’s theme of Nature’s Marvels celebrates the year of biodiversity as well as highlighting climate change action – a theme that resonates with several Festival artists who respond to the global crisis, including the world premiere of Dear Nature by artist John Newling in collaboration with Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft. His poetic letters to nature will be read by representatives from the local community set to a musical composition. Belgian performance group Ontroerend Goed’s ground-breaking work, Are we not drawn onward to new erA is a serious but joyfully powerful piece of theatre that asks questions about our ability to repair the damage already done to our planet. An installation by artist Chris Dobrowolski, Washed Up Car-go, brings a thought provoking and eye-catching work about plastic pollution to a new outdoor site in Hove.


Festival events will be reaching out to more communities than ever before. A residential street in Moulsecoomb, will be transformed into a colourful artwork in a new co-commission by Brighton Festival and Fabrica with A Simple Act of Wonder by acclaimed contemporary artists Walter and Zoniel.

Without Walls will visit Crawley’s Queens Square to bring an exhilarating programme of pop-up events from some of the UK’s most innovative outdoor companies. From hip hop and circus to inspiring dance and an interactive augmented reality trail, the whole family will enjoy these playful and uplifting shows. Artist Ray Lee’s spectacular giant sound and light sculptures are brought together for the first time in Points of Departure, set against an atmospheric night-time backdrop of Shoreham Port. And Our Place continues to bring free arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton.


Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“Brighton Festival is an annual invitation to everyone to explore great art from all over the world and inspire individual creativity. We’re excited and proud to be bringing the Festival to so many areas of the city and the wider region and we hope that Lemn’s encouragement to be brave and try something new creates an ‘Imagine Nation’ in which we can all take part.”

As always, the Festival will include free and participatory events and activities for all ages, abilities and incomes – over 100 events are free or cost £10 or less to attend and the Pay It Forward scheme will offer free ticket vouchers to community organisations.

Tickets go on sale to Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival members at 7.30am, Wed 12 February and general sale at 9am, Wed 19 February. 

Disused Hove Warehouse to Host Brighton Festival Events

A disused warehouse next to Hove train station will be the venue for several public events as part of Brighton Festival 2020. Property developers, Watkin Jones Group, have partnered with the Festival to provide the empty spaces which are due for demolition.

Brighton Festival is presenting three events on the site from 2 to 24 May 2020, including the world premiere of a large-scale digital installation, the UK premiere of an immersive theatre production and an outdoor interactive sculpture.

In The Sleeping Tree, visitors will enter one of the last great rainforests of Indonesia and follow a family of endangered Gibbons as they go through their daily rituals, returning to the same tree they have inhabited for generations. Created by UK interactive arts company Invisible Flock, the unique sensory installation fuses art, film and digital technology with the aim of highlighting urgent conservation issues. The company worked with rangers and primatologists in Sumatra to record the images and sounds of the jungle and the fascinating habitat of these endangered species.


In the adjacent space, Sollievo offers an intimate theatrical performance by acclaimed Italian artist Gabriella Salvaterra. 23 performers invite guests to travel through a tranquil candle-lit labyrinth and listen to stories, peek into boxes, sit at their dinner table and flutter through pages of books. The spine-tingling production is an enchanting and dream-like journey for just 40 audience members, with several performances throughout the evening.

Outside the warehouse, an ordinary looking car is parked on the forecourt, but on closer inspection viewers will see this is no ordinary vehicle. Featuring found objects from Brighton beach, toy sea creatures, sand and pebbles, Washed Up Car-go  is an art installation with a difference. Using film and music, artist Chris Dobrowolski’s playfully thought-provoking sculpture raises awareness about plastic consumerism and the pollution of the world’s oceans.


The use of this industrial space as an art venue is an opportunity to bring events to unusual locations and communities beyond the city. Brighton Festival can also be found at Shoreham Port, where Ray Lee’s Points of Departure will dazzle audiences with sound and light installations during a night-time encounter. Further locations include Queens Square in Crawley, which will host Without Walls, a series of free outdoor pop-up art events suitable for all ages. 

Brighton Festival & caravan support new theatre work with artist opportunities

caravan returns to Brighton Festival 2020 to present the new theatre and performance from English artists to a selection of international and national promoters and presenters.

Organised by Farnham Maltings for Brighton Festival, caravan is a convivial event designed to encourage artists, commissioners, programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working together, share ambitions and reach new audiences.

The caravan marketplace is an opportunity for artists and companies to host a stand and to share information about current or future artistic projects with approximately 60 national and international delegates. The marketplace will be held during Brighton Festival on Tuesday 12 May between 10am and 12pm. Artists, writers, directors and companies can apply to take part by Thur 13 February 2020, full details are available here. 

The marketplace takes place alongside caravan showcase at Brighton Festival from 10 to 12 May 2020. The programme introduces a selected group of England’s brightest performance companies to the public, festival organisers and programmers from around the world, with the ambition of developing new partnerships.

caravan is supported by Arts Council England and British Council.

caravan Showcase Returns to Brighton Festival 2020

caravan, the biennial showcase of England’s brightest independent performing artists returns to Brighton Festival from 10 to 12 May 2020.

The three-day showcase presents the best new performances made in England to an audience of international and national commissioners, promoters and programmers, delivered by Farnham Maltings in partnership with Brighton Festival. caravan is a convivial event designed to encourage artists, commissioners, programmers and potential collaborators to explore new ways of working together, share ambitions and reach new audiences. caravan 2020 follows the success of the bi-annual events, established at the Festival in 2008.


Gavin Stride, Director of caravan and Farnham Maltings explains:

“caravan aims to strengthen international networks and expand the range of opportunities for performing artists and companies based in England, allowing them to present their work to audiences across the world.”

The 2020 programme features nine live events encompassing music, theatre, dance, cabaret and family-friendly, selected by a curatorial group drawn from some of the country’s leading directors and producers. All shows are open to the public with tickets priced from £6-£12.50.

Highlights include Nouveau Riche’s Queens of Sheba, the hilarious, moving and uplifting stories of four Black women battling everyday misogynoir; News News News by Andy Field and Beckie Darlington, a television news show made by children for adults; Pecho Mama’s bold and genre-defying debut, Medea Electronica blends live gig with theatrical storytelling; Jamal Gerald’s Idol is a daring and unapologetic examination of religion, pop culture and Black representation and Bert & Nasi’s new work, The End, offers a poignant, sad and funny account of two parallel endings - their relationship and the Earth.


The caravan marketplace takes place alongside the showcase and will be held on Tuesday 12 May between 10am and 12pm. Artists and companies can apply to host a stand and pitch ideas with national and international delegates.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Festival added:

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming caravan back as part of this year’s Festival. The showcase has grown substantially since it was launched in 2008, and now encompasses a selection of the most dynamic and innovative creatives from across England. It has become a leading platform for international promoters and programmers to experience a diverse range of new work by talented artists who are prime candidates at this stage in their careers to tour internationally.”

caravan is supported by Arts Council England and British Council.

What's On In Worthing

Make the most of the Festival's final week by widening your horizons and getting over to Worthing, where for the first time ever, a range of fun, family-friendly events are springing up across Brighton's neighbouring town. To help you pick and choose what to do and see, we’ve spoken with Stephen Sheldrake, senior campaign officer for Worthing Theatre, Museum & Art Gallery, for an insider scoop on a few hidden gems dotted about the town you might have missed. Along with the stunning line-up of Festival events taking place in Worthing throughout May, you’re sure to find something to keep you and your family and friends entertained!

Spymonkey’s Cooped (Part of Brighton Festival)

As part of the 2019 Brighton Festival, catch the hilarious and ‘deliciously demented’ theatrical stylings of Spymonkey, in the show that launched them into stardom - Cooped. Think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther, this show is packed with laughs, slapstick, top-class acting, and a wild, raucous experience you won’t find anywhere else!


Cooped will be showing at Pavillion Theatre Worthing from Wed 22 to Sun 26 May. Visit the Festival’s Spymonkey event page to book your tickets today!

Worthing Pier

“…the town has also just won pier of the year…” Stephen Sheldrake, Worthing Theatre, Museum & Art Gallery.

Described as ‘the heart of Worthing’, this picturesque structure was built in the 1800’s, and has survived through war, fire, partial demolition, and storms with minimal damage. The people of Worthing have always sought to keep the monument standing, and for good reason. Today, the pier is a popular wedding venue and café/bar, as well as keeping an amusement arcade in the centre for young beachgoers.

See the Worthing Pier website for photos, historical information, and details about your visit.

Art-ful Pottery Café

If you are looking for an easy, inexpensive way to spend some creative time with your little ones, or with your friends or partner, there is no better place than the Art-ful Pottery Café. As well as running some family-friendly workshops, such as their Toddler Mornings on Wednesdays and Fridays (with an extra room for sensory play!), the women at Art-ful also run Artful-Evenings, specifically catered to adults who want to get something personal out of the experience. Bottles of wine are encouraged if you want to bring one along!

Art-ful Pottery Café is open Tuesday to Sunday, check their website for further information. £5-7 booking price per person, which includes tea and a slice of cake!

Still I Rise (Part of Brighton Festival)

In celebration of the life of Maya Angelou, phenomenal poet, author, and activist, who died peacefully in 2014, this emotive and gripping piece of dance theatre is not to be missed. TRIBE// are a new, powerful force to be reckoned with, and this performance is their means of proving it. Commemorating and honouring a truly remarkable woman, Still I Rise allows spectators to draw their own interpretations from the dance and implores them to reach personal conclusions within themselves.


Still I Rise is a performance put on by Brighton Festival, taking place in Connaught Theatre Worthing on Thu 23 May. Look on the festival’s Still I Rise event page to find out more.

Worthing Museum & Art Gallery

“…we also run a free Museum & Art Gallery that boasts the third largest costume collection in the UK.” Stephen Sheldrake, Worthing Theatre, Museum & Art Gallery.

For an inexpensive and unforgettable experience, we highly recommend a visit to the totally free Worthing Museum & Art Gallery. Boasting the third biggest costume collection in the UK, as well as a constant stream of imaginative and thought-provoking exhibitions each month, there is bound to be something for all everyone to enjoy.

The Worthing Museum & Art Gallery offers full disabled-access to all of its display rooms, as well as the shop. For more information, visit the website.


We are proud to incorporate Brighton's sister town of Worthing for this year’s Brighton Festival, and hope to bring the joy of the Festival right to the door of anyone who wants to get involved. 

Everything You Need to Know About 'FREE': Our Place's New Musical Inclusivity Project

If you haven't yet heard of Our Place, Brighton Festival's community outreach programme that became a community-run mini festival of its own, you're missing out on a load of fantastic and totally free events taking place over two weekends in Hangleton and Whitehawk. Even more exciting - this year, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts have announced that a number of young musicians from their free drop-in sessions are performing as 'FREE', an eclectic, diverse range of musical styles from this generation's budding talents. 

Sat 18 May

Young musicians aged 13-19 from SoundCity Drop-in sessions are performing as part of The East Brighton Our Place community takeover event held at Manor Gym. Catch the group performing a live ‘SoundCity Drop-in showcase‘ onstage from 3:30 – 4:30pm in the Green Space. Artists will be performing a diverse mix of incredible music including original material and covers from rap and rock through to acoustic solo, electronic beats and beyond!

Sat 25 May 

Members from ‘U Studios 2’ drop-in sessions will be performing at the West Brighton Our Place community takeover event from 6:30 – 7:30pm. Artists will be showcasing the amazing music they have created including Hip-Hop, Grime and Trap beats, plus live rapping and a young women’s vocal group!


(Above: Laura Grunwald)

The SoundCity Drop-in and U Studios 2 are free music sessions for young people. Established in 2018, they are part of a four-year programme fully funded by Youth Music and as part of the national initiative Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England. The programme aims to offer 13-19 year olds living in the East and West Brighton areas greater inclusion & access to music making activities that are responsive to their unique interests and needs.

East Brighton’s SoundCity Drop-ins, held at Greater Brighton Metropolitan College’s Wilson Avenue site, are delivered by a creative team of Music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive, and The Brighton Metropolitan College.

West Brighton’s U Studios 2 sessions held at Hangleton Community Centre & Knoll Park pavilion are delivered by music leaders from Brighton & Hove’s Music Education Hub SoundCity, local charity AudioActive & youth workers from The Hangleton & Knoll Project.

Our Place

To read more about Our Place's journey since its beginning in 2017, see our blog post 'From Your Place to Our Place', featuring a great video of past years' events. 

For information on how to attend Our Place, see the Hangleton Our Place event page, or the Whitehawk Our Place event page

Boho Gelato's Syrian Flavoured Ice Cream Supports Children's Big Read

In honour of this year’s Young City Reads book, The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf, Brighton-based artisan ice-cream parlour Boho Gelato has created a Syrian-inspired flavour, on sale until the end of the summer. The book follows the moving story of Ahmet, a young Syrian refugee and a group of determined nine-year-olds, who go above and beyond to make sure their new classmate has a sense of belonging.

‘Sweet Syrah’, named by Twitter user @thisoldmole as part of an online competition, is made on-site using locally produced milk and cream, and combines traditional flavours of mastic gum, rose and pistachio.

One customer, Nel Hymes, sampling the ice cream said: “It’s really lovely – a nice kick of fragrance, and floral!”

The award-winning outlet are known for their work within the community, and 20% of all proceeds from ‘Sweet Syrah’ sales will be used to support Young City Reads’ work in areas of high deprivation across Brighton & Hove, going towards books, workshops and event tickets to inspire a love of reading amongst less privileged children.

Katie Edwards, who works at Boho Gelato said: “We’re excited to be a part of this initiative, as well introducing a new flavour to our customers, which is a delicacy in Syria!”

Last year, the company raised nearly £1,000 with their ‘Blue Phantom’, created for the 2018 title ‘Kid Normal’ by Greg James and Chris Smith, and this year they’re hoping for the same success.

Young City Reads 2019 culminates in an event for schools on 22 May at Brighton Dome as part of Brighton Festival, featuring a live appearance by Onjali Q. Raúf who commented:

“I am utterly thrilled to have ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ chosen for Young City Reads! It is such an honour. I hope all human ‘beans’ (of every age!) reading and engaging with it reach its end feeling a little more understanding and hopeful about what we can all do to ease the plight of refugee children the world over. Sometimes the best, most joyous things start with a story, and my deepest wish for this book is that it helps inspire lots of interesting discussions and ideas about one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our times. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to make this happen.”

Head down to Boho Gelato, 6 Pool Valley, Brighton, and try a scoop (or two!) of Sweet Syrah

Five Minutes with: Spymonkey

As Brighton’s Spymonkey celebrates its 20th anniversary, don’t miss the opportunity to catch the show which made them an international comedy sensation. 

Cooped, a deliciously demented take on the pulp gothic romance – think Hitchcock’s Rebecca meets The Pink Panther – is replete with brilliant characters, rip-roaring farce and virtuoso physical comedy. Beautiful, fawn-like Laura du Lay arrives in the heart of darkest Northumberlandshirehampton to work for the reclusive Forbes Murdston, but there are unsettling rumours that surround her new boss and his ominous manservant Klaus. A spooky mansion, a plucky young heroine and a handsome English aristocrat. Add a German butler and a Spanish soap star and you're...COOPED with Spymonkey! Directed by Cal McCrystal, the comedy genius behind One Man Two Guvnors. We have a quick chat with Artistic Directors: Aitor Basauri, Petra Massey & Toby Park...


Why should someone come and see your show?

In the best tradition of British Comedy, from Monty Python to Vic & Bob, Cooped overflows with Spymonkey’s signature clown-esque style: brilliant characters, visual humour, slapstick comedy, naughtiness and nudity. It also features some of the funniest song-and-dance routines you will ever see. The show was written with and directed by Cal McCrystal, the comedy genius behind National Theatre’s One Man Two Guvnors and some of the best-loved sequences of the Paddington films.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Inspirations include Pink Panther, Alfred Hitchcock, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, pulp gothic romance in film and fiction, and director Cal McCrystal’s childhood obsession with the American TV Gothic Soap Opera - Dark Shadows

How will Cooped make someone feel?

Aitor: All shows of Spymonkey are really funny so at the end of any show people leave felling quite good. I like to think that there is a little bit of something for everybody.

Petra: It depends on the person. If they like this kind of thing then they may snort, wet themselves and at times be moved. If they don't then they will sit with a lemon face and say idiots under their breath a lot. And that would be right.

Toby: We hope it will be the funniest thing they have ever seen. At the end of Cooped they will be wrung out like a limp dish cloth with tears of joy streaming down their faces and sides that ache from laughing so much. Only later, in the death despair of night, when they wake from a fitful slumber, drenched in sweat and with their pulses racing, panic rising like nausea in their chests, will they realise how profoundly disturbed they are. And will remain. Life will never be the same again, once you’ve seen it, you cannot un-know the darkness that lives in every one of us: You will never again see Cooped by Spymonkey for the first time.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Fans of comedy, physical theatre, the circus, lovers of grown-up silliness, sophisticated fun-seekers, and anyone looking for an entertaining laugh out loud.

What will surprise people about this show?

Cooped notably contains the most hilariously ill-positioned fig-leaves since Adam and Eve danced a pas-de-deux!

Onjali Q. Raúf Introduces Young City Reads

On World Book Day Brighton Festival and Collected Works CIC invite schools to register for Young City Reads ‘big read’!


To mark World Book Day (7 March) we’re inviting schools to register for the ‘big read’ with Onjali Q. Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class.

The book follows the story of Ahmet, a young Syrian refugee. This beautiful tale of empathy and compassion introduces us to a small group of determined nine-year-olds, who go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure their new classmate has a sense of belonging.

Primary schools across Brighton & Hove, Sussex and beyond can now register online here and take part in getting children reading and talking about this inspirational story. Throughout the project, participating classes will receive free weekly e-bulletins which include bite-size literacy resources and fun activities. On Wed 22 May Brighton Festival is delighted to welcome Onjali Q. Raúf at Brighton Dome Concert Hall with a special live event for schools, tickets can be booked online here.

Watch our interview with this year’s Young City Reads author Onjali Q. Raúf

Collected Works CIC launched Young City Reads with Brighton & Hove Libraries and Crisis Classroom on World Book Day with a fantastic workshop for children from City Academy Whitehawk and St John the Baptist’s Primary School. Crisis Classroom works directly with refugees, asylum seekers and the homeless in the UK, hosting engaging workshops that not only provide a safe environment, but help build communities and friendships through creativity.

Young City Reads Director, Sarah Hutchings commented:

‘Crisis Classroom believe in empowerment through education, for all refugees. They work tirelessly to inspire children and adults to become more involved in their local communities to bring about greater understanding of the refugee crisis and to promote global change. We are delighted to be working with them during this year’s Young City Reads 2019.’

Check out our Young Literature and Young Brighton Festival programme.