Confidence high as Brighton Festival starts

Andrew Comben’s advice is to snap up those tickets while you still can.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The fact is that Brighton Festival, which this year runs from May 4-26, is selling well, says Andrew as he approaches his final festival in the city.

Andrew will step down as chief executive officer of Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival later this year to become chief executive officer of Britten Pears Arts. For the moment, though, all eyes are on Brighton: “It's a fantastic festival ahead and I'm really excited to be at this point. Brighton Festival is an amazingly eclectic and energetic festival but this year the festival just feels so hopeful and it's so full of wonderful events.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Behind it all is Brighton’s optimistic spirit inviting “everyone to imagine a better world through a vibrant and colourful celebration of hope, magic and wonder.” This year’s guest director, award-winning children’s author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce, is promising “a sense of fun and play for adults and children alike.”

Andrew Comben © 2019 Carlotta LukeAndrew Comben © 2019 Carlotta Luke
Andrew Comben © 2019 Carlotta Luke

The programme, running from May 4-26, will offer more than 120 events “celebrating shared endeavour, the miraculous in the everyday and the beauty in the extraordinary” – an extensive line-up of events from national and international artists across music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events, in venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and East Sussex.

Andrew said: “Right from the start I have always loved Frank's work and admired him. When I was first thinking about the guest director model way back in 2008 for the 2009 festival, Frank as a scriptwriter and with all his background was someone I had in mind. We're always looking for somebody with a breadth for imagination and preparedness to look at all art forms and how they relate to the festival as a whole. If you look at Frank's work there is an extraordinary breadth of imagination and with The Wonder Brothers it is all about magic and how we need magic in the world.

“Frank has been involved in lots of programming and decisions and lots of invitations to artists and the great thing is that Frank has this amazing ability to draw connections.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The other great thing for this year is the return of the Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre for the first time since 2016: “The project has been a huge labour of love and it has taken longer than we hoped but it's really special to be using them again. What it gives us is the scale and the scope particularly with international touring work. The Corn Exchange with its 505 seats and its depth means that we can host again a lot of international theatre that we have not been able to bring to the city in the intervening period. Both the Corn Exchange and the Studio Theatre work really well together.”

And Andrew is certainly seeing strong bookings as the festival approaches.

As he says, it is not as if Covid never happened: “We are more aware of our processes and our procedures, and also artists travelling around the world are more sensitised. And I do think audience behaviour has changed. But we do have audiences back in a way that might not have been the case in 2022 or 2023."

Related topics: