Looking back and to the future of Brighton Digital Festival

My hope is that we continue to showcase the creativity of the people in our region.

Friday, 2nd October 2015, 8:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:45 pm

It has been an amazing year for Brighton Digital Festival. During September the festival had a record-breaking 186 events, ranging from conferences and meet-ups, music and comedy, workshops and exhibitions, and a whole lot more.

The diversity of events that celebrate digital culture has allowed Brighton Digital Festival and the dedicated community of event organisers to reach out to an audience of thousands - giving them the opportunity to open up to new experiences, ideas, and connections.

When I joined as festival manager in 2013, the festival had never internally commissioned education or art programming '“ now after the second year of programming, and support from Laurence Hill, our arts coordinator, and Donna Comerford, education coordinator '“ I can proudly say that the festival is now commissioning new work that resonates with audiences on a global scale.

The Waiting Wall by Alan Donohoe and Steven Parker, which was selected as a 2014 newforms commission, has drawn unprecedented coverage and engagement from the public. The project received more than 230,000 page views on its website in September alone, and over 10,000 messages that were shared in the Brighton Station screen installation and online.

While The Waiting Wall attracted messages of love, loss, regret and joy, the message I got from the project is that there is a great desire from the public to reach out, connect, and share.

The feedback and coverage that Brighton Digital Festival has had this year points to the festival supporting Brighton's reputation as a hub of digital excellence. I strongly believe that a thriving digital economy is achievable only when there is considered investment into the cultural landscape of a region - allowing people to engage within an environment that encourages innovation, creativity, and risk-taking.

Brighton Digital Festival has worked hard to encourage these values in both our arts and education programming. Highlights from our education strand included working with the Royal Institution to deliver a series of creative computing masterclasses, to supporting the Spark! Brighton conference, in exploring how technology can enable better educational experiences.

These are excellent examples of how the private and public sectors can work together to make amazing things happen.

With austerity measures stretching out indefinitely on both a regional and national level, it has been encouraging to see so many of this year's festival events arise as a public/private collaboration - just like the festival itself.

This year Brighton Digital Festival was made possible through core funding through Arts Council England and generous support from private enterprises, including our Premier Sponsor EDF Energy.

As I look to the future of Brighton Digital Festival, my hope is that we continue to showcase the incredible passion and creativity of the people in our region, and champion the city as a globally renowned hub of outstanding digital culture.