Based on the latest government advice around social distancing measures and the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK is projected to coincide with the timing of the Festival in May, all planned events have been suspended.
Brighton Festival was due to take place from Sat 2 – Sun 24 May 2020 and is the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England. This is the first time the Festival has been cancelled in its 53-year history. Over 120 cultural events were scheduled across the region, including 17 premieres, commissions, co-productions and many Festival debuts from international artists. The annual Children’s Parade has also been affected and will not go ahead. Festival staff are working with artists and partners to discuss whether some events can happen at a later date or in a different way. Due to the scale of the festival and the inclusion of many international artists and touring companies, rescheduling the festival as a whole would not be feasible. “The Festival team is devastated that this incredible programme, led by Guest Director Lemn Sissay won’t happen this year and that audiences won’t experience the diversity of artists coming from across the world to our city,” said Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival. “Lemn’s vision was to build an ‘Imagine Nation’ at Brighton Festival. It seems to us that we need imagination, creativity and the strength of our community now more than ever. We are exploring what might be the most creative contribution the Festival and its artists can make at this time and we will share more on this when we can.
“We are aware that the whole of society is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic but also realise the profound affect it will have on the cultural sector and on the economy of our city, to which the Festival is such an important contributor. It is vital we work together to support our staff, artists and partners and that Brighton & Hove’s rich cultural life can survive and emerge from this challenge, so we all continue our contribution to the life and wealth of the whole region.”
Customers who have booked tickets for events will be contacted by the Festival ticket office as soon as possible with refund information.
“The cancellation of Brighton Festival is a huge blow for us all but it’s also inevitable given the severity of what we all face,” said Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director, Lemn Sissay. “I believe artists have a role to play and a gift to offer and the creativity that is in us all reminds us of the preciousness and beauty of life. Let’s cherish that now and emerge from this with renewed humanity and strength.”
Brighton Festival is a registered charity and almost two thirds of the festival costs would have been covered by ticket sales. Ticket holders are being offered the option to donate some or all of their ticket purchase in order to help support the Festival’s future and its work with artists and community partner organisations.
Since it was first established in 1967, Brighton Festival has given artists and performers at the cutting edge of artistic practice and on the edge of society, the creative space to have their voices heard and to showcase new work. “The cancellation of this year’s Festival is disappointing but inevitable given the current circumstances and is absolutely the right decision,£ said Cllr Alan Robins, Chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, Brighton & Hove City Council. “We look forward to the Festival returning next year.”
Brighton Dome closed on Tue 17 March and is cancelling or postponing its events programme until further notice.