A look back over three-week festival of arts and culture

Belonging Bandstand by Morag Myerscough (Photograph: Victor Frankowski)
Belonging Bandstand by Morag Myerscough (Photograph: Victor Frankowski)

Popular life-drawing classes, an exclusive performance by an award-winning artist and energetic circus shows were among the highlights at this year’s Brighton Festival.

The three-week festival opened with a riot of colour in the shape of the Children’s Parade on May 5, which saw more than 5,000 schoolchildren process through the city representing this year’s theme of ‘art’.

Life Model II by David Shrigley at Fabrica (Photograph: Michael Fung)

Life Model II by David Shrigley at Fabrica (Photograph: Michael Fung)

The reason behind the theme was that this year’s guest director was Turner Prize winner, artist and Brighton resident David Shrigley.

His life drawing class installation, Life Model II at Fabrica, proved popular with the public, with more than 12,500 visitors taking part throughout the festival. The installation replaced the live model with a caricatured robotic sculpture of a nine-foot-tall woman.

Mr Shrigley said: “The experience of guest directing Brighton Festival has been fun! I think the most fun thing has been meeting people – people who are performing, people involved in programming, people who are collaborating with me, people visiting the Festival. It’s been a really social experience, and a really positive one.

“I feel really embraced by the arts community in Brighton, but I also feel that I in turn have embraced the arts community back. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the Festival in such a big way, and to have met so many people. I feel very lucky.”

Dance The Nelken Line (Photograph: Michael Fung)

Dance The Nelken Line (Photograph: Michael Fung)

Popular events included The Nelken Line, where 200 residents joined over 60s dance company Three Score Dance to create Pina Bausch’s extraordinary promenade on the seafront, and The Arms of Sleep, with 150 budding performers taking up the invitation to become integral parts of overnight choral sleepover.

A beach front bandstand saw performances from BIMM students and the Sussex Pistols Ceilidh band, showcasing talent in the area.

One of the most popular Festival events was an extended visit from internationally-renowned NoFit State circus which presented its dazzling new production Lexicon in a Big Top circus tent on Hove Lawns.

Over the 11 night stay, more than 9,700 people were dazzled by the show, which featured a large live band, a smorgasbord of impressive acrobatic set pieces – including an astonishing array of unicycles, quadricycles and everything in-between.

Kate Tempest at Your Place (Photograph: Michael Fung)

Kate Tempest at Your Place (Photograph: Michael Fung)

Last year’s guest director Kate Tempest debuted her new album in Hangleton, as part of an exclusive performance at Your Place, which brings a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to Hangleton and East Brighton communities.

And The Pay-It-Forward scheme returned for its second year, showcasing the generosity of Brighton Festival audiences. Those booking tickets for Festival events were given the option of paying an extra £5 or more, which Brighton Festival then matched. This resulted in 1,175 ticket vouchers being offered to people who may otherwise have been unable to experience Festival events.

Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Festival, said: “This year’s Brighton Festival had more opportunities than ever for everyone to get involved and participate – truly highlighting that Brighton Festival is not just three weeks of quality performance, art and debate but also an opportunity for the whole city to celebrate and embrace the arts and culture that enrich our daily lives.”

Brighton Festival took place between May 5 and 27.