26 July 2013

Cultural highlights just keep coming

Brighton & Hove’s reputation as a leading year-round cultural city continues, with festivals and events as popular as ever and an increase in visitors to cultural venues such as museums.

An update on the city’s cultural offer was reported to the council last week as part of the city’s annual performance update which looked back over the last 12 months to March 2013.

The city’s offer continues to expand with more diverse festivals, events and experiences. May for instance, is host to England’s largest arts festival with the combined attraction of Brighton Festival, Brighton Fringe, The Great Escape, House and Artist Open Houses.  Brighton & Hove also hosted bigger and better the Brighton Marathon, Pride and the Science Festival.

Working closely with Brighton University on the Film City initiative, Brighton & Hove City Council has been bringing together those working in all aspects of the film industry in the city from exhibition and archive to film makers and films and TV made Brighton & Hove.

The council now has a formal partnership with Creative England helping to underline the city’s profile as a film location and a hothouse for innovative and emerging film makers.  It is also partners with the University, Lighthouse and the Duke of York’s in the new BFI audience hub which will see the city take a regional lead for developing audiences for film and bring £900k of investment over the initiative’s lifetime.

At Brighton Museum & Art Gallery visitors voted with their feet, with audiences at a record-breaking 266,000. A prize-winning new exhibition 'World Stories: Young Voices’ opened in July 2012, developed in collaboration with over 230 young people and marking the London 2012 Games.

The museum continues to break new ground in other ways too – for example, the series of ‘Lates’ where galleries open out of hours and visitors can enjoy music, quirky activities and talks. A new Spotlight Gallery opened, shedding new light on the collections.

Hove Museum’s family-friendly profile continues to develop and last year had its second busiest on record, with many attracted by the popular Jacqueline Wilson exhibition.

The Royal Pavilion had its second busiest year since 2000, with winter offerings drawing additional audiences during the quieter season, from an exhibition on the short life and tragic death of Princess Charlotte, George IV’s daughter, to contemporary commissions, such as Geraldine Pilgrim’s ‘The Lost Pagodas’, and the romantic winter Ice Rink with the newly relit east façade of the building as its backdrop.

Cllr Geoffrey Bowden, chair of the city’s economic development and culture committee, said: ”Brighton & Hove is, quite simply, a fabulous place for culture. We have so much home-grown talent right on our doorstep. It’s a privilege to be part of the creative partnerships that are bringing in investment to support people in fulfilling their creative potential and providing opportunities for people to enjoy the city’s substantial cultural offer.”

Providing opportunities for different communities continued to thrive during 2012/13, with Brighton Dome working with young people through the Youth Offending Service, Brighton Fringe hosting two new arts festivals specifically aimed at children and young people (Brighton Youth Centre’s B;Fest and the Komedia’s Hijack festival) and the Music Hub launched in the Dome in March. South East Dance created a groundbreaking dance company for the over 60s who performed at Brighton Dome.

Some of the more unusual events over this period included The Basement’s ‘Sick,’ a festival of contemporary performance looking at different aspects of health and sickness; and the Brighton Photo Biennial and Photofringe with programmes in unusual places such as a shipping container on the seafront, the viaduct on Lewes Road, the old seafront arches and the windows of the former Co-Op building.

The Arts Partnership scheme resulted in £800,000 additional investment for arts and cultural projects. The city council secured national and European funding for new regeneration projects working with culture and creative industry as a driver for positive change in neighbourhoods. Both the Portas project and Re:create will bring substantial inward investment to the city.