Brighton Festival is a large, annual, curated multi-arts festival in England. It includes music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events, and takes place in venues in the city of Brighton and Hove in England each May.
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In 1964 the first moves were made to hold a Festival in Brighton, and Ian Hunter, the eventual artistic director of the festival, submitted a programme of ideas. This was followed by a weekend conference in 1965, and the Board of the Brighton Festival Society was born. The first festival was held in 1967, and included the first ever exhibition of Concrete poetry in the UK, alongside performances by Laurence Olivier and Yehudi Menuhin.
In the introduction to the 1968 Festival programme, Ian Hunter explained the original intentions of the festival: “The aim of the Brighton Festival is to stimulate townsfolk and visitors into taking a new look at the arts and to give them the opportunity to assess developments in the field of culture where the serious and the apparently flippant ride side by side.”[ citation needed ]
In 2016 Brighton Festival celebrated its 50th year. The festival's biggest talking point was Nutkhut's Dr Blighty,an ambitious, large-scale, free immersive, outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums and 14-18 NOW, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during WW1. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty set the city and social media abuzz and drew audiences of almost 65,000 over its five-day run.
The festival regularly commissions new work from some artists and companies. The 2016 Brighton Festival featured 54 commissions, co-commissions, exclusives and premieres including the UK premiere of Laurie Anderson's unique Musicfor Dogs, a concert specially designed for the canine ear; the UK premiere of Lou Reed Drones, an installation of Anderson's late husband's guitars and amps in feedback mode which she describes as "kind of as close to Lou's music as we can get these days", a re-enactment of every onstage death from the plays of Shakespeare from Brighton-based Spymonkey and Tim Crouch; and Blast Theory & Hydrocracker's immersive undercover police drama Operation Black Antler.
In 2020, the festival was cancelled for the first time in its history as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each year since 2009 the festival has appointed a guest artistic director.
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this year's Brighton festival, which is guest-directed by author, broadcaster and former children's laureate Michael Rosen.