Brighton’s The Verdict have received a crisis grant to help ensure its survival during the current coronavirus pandemic. The much-needed funds were confirmed in late April. Roxanne Checkley said, “I am immensely relieved and grateful, my thoughts are with the other 500+ venues that face potential closure in this crisis.”
Brighton Festival, the largest annual, multi-arts festival in England, was cancelled for the first time in its 53-year history, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, numerous ticket buyers have since donated back money rather than be refunded. Brighton Festival is now offering free online events throughout May.
Brighton Festival released this statement:
“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 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.
“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 performers led by acclaimed director Robert Hollingworth. Australian circus act Gravity & Other Myths share their acrobatic skills in a series of jaw-dropping 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 the acclaimed show of Uninvited Guests’ 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 their ticket purchases, our community has shown how much the festival means to them and enables 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 will enjoy a small part of the Festival at home this May.”
More details of Brighton Festival at Home can be found here: brightonfestival.org/at_home
(Photo of Lemn Sissay by Jamie MacMillian.)