50 Springs. 50 Festivals. 50 opportunities, in the words of the first Festival Director Sir Ian Hunter, to ‘…take a new look at the arts and [have] the opportunity to assess developments in the field of culture where the serious and the apparently flippant ride side by side.’ Every year some of the greatest artists, performers and thinkers have congregated for a festival in one of the most artistically rich and geographically blessed places in the country. Now that’s something to celebrate.
In a potent mix of art made here and art from all around the world, Brighton Festival has developed a legacy we are proud to have inherited. Since Sir Ian Hunter each Festival Director – Gavin Henderson, Chris Baron and Nick Dodds – has served those initial ideals and made each Festival a unique celebration of this ‘City on the Edge’, this place where the exciting meets the exotic meets the exasperating meets the exceptional.
The Guest Directors with whom we have worked since 2009 – Anish Kapoor, Brian Eno, Aung San Suu Kyi, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Rosen, Hofesh Shechter, Ali Smith and this year the wonderful Laurie Anderson – have allowed us to celebrate this truly eclectic and all-embracing Festival in a new way whilst retaining a sense of past and place. It is this combination of the search for the new with a deep respect for our traditions which I believe is at the heart of Brighton Festival and at the heart of this magical creative city. And in this 50th year we particularly wanted to reflect on the nature of ‘home’ and ‘place’: ours as well as those evoked by the places our visiting artists call home.
I’m particularly proud that as part of the 20 new commissions in this year’s programme, we are able to present so many new works by Brighton artists or about Brighton itself. Wildly different and each fascinating, the ‘Brighton Commissions’ are presented as a tribute to our home and the talent within it. Here’s to the 50th Brighton Festival, here’s to you, our audience, and here’s to the next 50 to come!