Brighton Digital Festival gets under way

Brighton Digital Festival (BDF) is counting down to its tenth-anniversary, ten-day programme that celebrates digital culture and its impact on our lives and thinking.

Alli Beddoes
Alli Beddoes

The biennial event, directed by arts charity Lighthouse, is an open-access and community-driven festival with more than 50 activities taking place between October 29 and November 7.

Alli Beddoes, Brighton Digital Festival CEO, said: “Offering something for everyone, the festival has a mix of hybrid, in-person and online events ranging from small meet-ups, workshops and conferences to exhibitions, film installations and immersive audio, visual and VR experiences.

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“Events will explore key issues affecting our daily lives including climate change, the role of digital tech in a pandemic, education and the importance of equal access to the production, consumption and understanding of digital culture.”

The festival programme for 2021 has three strands – the core programme, BDF sessions and BDF open programme.

“The core programme is produced by Lighthouse on behalf of Brighton Digital Festival and comprises five events commissioned by Digital Democracies and created in partnership with Freedom Festival in Hull and Frequency Festival in Lincoln.

“Addressing personal history, race, family and home living, event highlights include Ancestral Wisdom – Ask an Ancestor. This is an interactive audio installation by Ifeatu Nnaobi that uses artificial intelligence to allow participants to ask their ancestors questions. Its purpose is to get people thinking about how they exist as part of a family and community. Another event is Signals, a children’s workshop that uses interactive design and games to get kids thinking about historical events.”

“BDF sessions delivers a series of five, one-off discussion masterclasses covering a range of topical issues. How can digital be a tool for the circular economy? is one such event on the importance of circular economy and how digital can help us to make the most of these practices.

“Reflecting the festival’s roots and core manifesto, BDF open programme includes a breadth of non-curated, city-led events from all members of the community. Carousel TV, for example, provides a national platform for learning disabled artists to display their creativity. Project Art Works in Hastings presents Ignition – the exhibition at Hastings Contemporary which began as a residency in the main gallery space at Hastings Contemporary during the last national lockdown, with artists working in the temporary studio while the building was closed to visitors. The Project Art Works collective has been nominated for this year’s Turner Prize.

“The festival will also see the return of the regular sell-out She Says event. Hosted by Rifa Thorpe-Tracey of Refigure, it provides an evening of online talks from designer and creativity champion, Meg Fenn and Afrori Books founder Carolynn Bain, to discuss their digital journeys.”

Alli added: “After the past year or so, it is an honour and delight to confirm the return of Brighton Digital Festival as a platform to further celebrate and explore the city’s and nation’s digital and creative talent. The festival’s purpose has always been to create an accessible and collaborative public space where individuals can help to collectively showcase and shape our digital creative future.

“And we want to help ensure the festival continues to reflect the city through different people’s voices and experiences as well as to challenge the norms of digital culture. We look forward to seeing you at some of the events. Brighton Digital Festival is also supporting young talented people in the city through a content production training scheme via Kickstart and supported by MPB, who are supplying equipment. There are also a number of workshops with support from Uplift to elevate digital skills in the city.

“With a major focus on circular economy this year, Brighton Digital Festival is also hosting a tech amnesty project, Tech-Takeback, to allow individuals to bring old, disused tech to be cleaned up and sent to charities supporting those in digital poverty.

“Anyone can bring their old tech to Lighthouse throughout the festival dates, which will be cleaned and updated and given to those in need of equipment throughout the Brighton & Hove areas.

“Brighton Digital Festival is grassroots-led, with the creative community of Greater Brighton at its heart. The 2021 programme has been made possible thanks to the support of its 2021 sponsors – Brandwatch, MPB, Uplift, Ironworks Studios, Oban International Brilliant Noise and Plus X Brighton.