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Welcome to the Imagine Nation: Lemn Sissay launches this year's Brighton Festival programme at ACCA

At Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts’ (ACCA) Brighton Festival Launch Professor Saul Becker, Provost at the University, was joined by this year's Guest Director Lemn Sissay MBE, Chief Executive of the Festival Andrew Comben and ACCA Creative Director Laura McDermott.

Professor Becker introduced the event and spoke about Sussex's partnership with the Festival as an important part of the University's engagement strategy and as a celebration of the very best of Brighton.

He said: "Launched in 1967, the Festival has become an annual highlight every May, and an opportunity for the city to come together and celebrate the creativity and diversity for which Brighton is famed."

Professor Becker also spoke about the importance of art and culture in community life, and ways in which the Festival works alongside and with communities across the city, by providing opportunities for everyone to engage with arts and culture.

The University supports the Festival's project 'Our Place,' which continues to bring free arts activities, programmed by, and for, the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton. Details of how staff and students can get involved in 'Our Place' will be shared in the coming weeks.

After Professor Becker’s introduction, BAFTA award-winning writer, broadcaster and Guest Director of the Festival Lemn Sissay MBE was joined on stage by ACCA’s Creative Director Laura McDermott and the Festival’s Chief Executive Andrew Comben to discuss the programme and share their experiences of putting together one of Europe's best arts festivals.

Among this year’s highlights Laura McDermott mentioned acclaimed Canadian story teller Ivan Coyote, who will be performing at ACCA on 16 and 17 May, and HALO, an immersive installation inspired by particle physics, and made by Brighton based artist duo Semiconductor with the help of physicists at the University of Sussex. This installation, which is free to all runs from 2-6 May, also in ACCA.

Catherine Gill, Volunteer Coordinator for the Festival, spoke of how volunteers are recruited from across the city and particularly from universities and colleges. Various roles are on offer, from providing a warm welcome to visitors, to sitting in on planning and logistics meetings, to helping the social media and marketing teams promote the event and keep up-to-date with all the action.

The Festival will support volunteers in developing their skills and knowledge within a busy arts organisation, and staff and students will be able to join the festivities and contribute to live events during the Festival in May. 

If you’re interested in taking part as a volunteer you can email The Festival will also be holding an open evening on Wednesday 26 February at the Brighton Dome from 5-7pm. More information can be found here.  

A volunteer from last year’s Festival said: ‘Taking part in the Festival as a volunteer was a fantastic experience. It connected me to the community.It expanded my horizons and I supported and saw some incredible work. I would highly recommend anyone to get involved if they can. The Brighton Festival has been the highlight of my year.'

There will also be ticket offers for staff and students alike, and ‘try for a fiver’ tickets for students. Some free tickets will be available via competitions so please keep an eye on This is Sussex and Flint to find out more about all these exciting offers.

If you were not able to attend you can view the programme online here or pick up a copy of the programme in the reception at ACCA. 

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By: Rose Wilmot
Last updated: Monday, 17 February 2020