Brighton Festival – fun for all?

The latest in the University of Sussex Salon series of debates gets into the Festival mood with a discussion of the value of festivals to cities such as Brighton.

Panelists will tackle questions such as: 

  • Are arts festivals the preserve of the well-off and educated, or do they play an essential role in the life of a city and its residents?
  •  Should festivals offer something for everyone, or should it be art for art's sake?
  • Is public spending on cultural events justified in times of economic hardship - or is it a valuable investment in the development of a city's identity?

The Sussex Salon events are public debates, offering a chance to hear expert discussion of a topical issue and an opportunity to join in with the debate in a relaxed and entertaining format.

Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and to vote on key points using an electronic voting system.

This month's debate, What does a Festival add to a city? Takes place on Sunday 22 May in the Founder's Room, Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton, from 6pm and will be chaired by Professor Gillian Bendelow of Sussex University. Panelists include: 

  •  Andrew Comben, CEO of Brighton Dome and Festival Offices.
  • Professor Steve Miles, Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Brighton. Professor Miles was part of the management group of Impacts 08, the research programme designed to assess the social, cultural and economic impacts of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture. At Northumbria University he was Head of Research for the Centre for Cultural Policy and Management, where he conducted a large-scale research project into the impact of cultural investment on NewcastleGateshead Quayside.
  • Dany Louise, who is a strategic facilitator and writer for the creative industries. She has worked previously for Brighton and Hove City Council as Creative Industries Manager and now advises creative organisations on arts strategy, as well as writing about the arts in the Press.
  • Dr Monica Sassatelli, Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, where she is working with fellow Sussex sociologist Professor Gerard Delanty on the project 'Art festivals and European public culture'. She is author of Becoming Europeans: Cultural Identity and Cultural Policies.  

Previous Salon debate topics have included the banning of religious symbols, the role of international law in world conflicts and the coalition government and "new" politics, while June's debate will feature gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and Brighton-based broadcaster and gay rights campaigner Simon Fanshawe talking about the impact of civil partnerships on society.

University of Sussex sociologist Dr Ruth Woodfield, who is Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange in the University's School of Law, Politics and Sociology and who organises the Salon events in association with Brighton Dome, says: "These public debates have been really well attended by people from all walks of life, and have provoked some lively discussion.  Academics get to share their knowledge and bring expert opinion to discussion of big issues, in an entertaining way. We are looking forward to welcoming a growing audience to a new series of debates on a variety of hot topics in the autumn."


What does a Festival add to a city? is a part of Brighton Festival and takes place on Sunday 22 May from 6pm in the Founder's Room, Brighton Dome, Church Street, Brighton. Tickets are £6 (£4 concessions), and the price includes a free drink. Book online at

NOTE: This event has been re-scheduled from the 2 May to 22 May.

For details of the next Salon debate, visit:

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune, Jacqui Bealing and Daniëlle Treanor. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

View press releases online at:

Notes for Editors

Last updated: Thursday, 19 May 2011