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Storytelling at heart of Brighton Festival programme

DIVERSE: Serge Attukwei Clottey’s Afrogallonism work utilises yellow gallon containers

CELEBRATED MALIAN musician Rokia Traoré has revealed the full programme for Brighton Festival 2019, the largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England.

This year promises to be a wide-ranging, diverse and international festival, encouraging audiences to meet, listen and pass on their experiences.

Featuring 111 events with artists and performers from over 20 countries, Brighton Festival 2019 is a space for contemporary expression from around the world.

The importance of compassion and respect for all cultures and for nurturing the next generation of artists is at the heart and soul of this year’s programme. The festival will present new and unexpected events at more than 25 venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and Sussex from May 4 to 26.

Guest director Traoré will bring three exclusive performances to Brighton, opening with her blues rock band to perform the critically acclaimed album Né So, which translates as ‘home’ in the Bambara language. Dream Mandé: Djata is the UK premiere of her theatrical and musical project – a monologue structured around the West African griot tradition of oral history storytelling. Dream Mandé: Bamanan Djourou will feature contemporary songs by the likes of Bob Marley and Fela Kuti.

Traroé’s invited guests include artists, musicians and dancers visiting the UK for the first time from Foundation Passerelle, a cultural centre established by Traoré in Mali’s capital city Bamako. This collaboration will form a longterm partnership with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival that is committed to international engagement at the heart of our artistic programme.

Looking ahead to the festival, Traoré says: “As guest director, I set out to bring new voices to the city to tell their stories.

“Understanding other cultures is so important to the world that we live in and it brings me great joy to shed light on some unexpected voices through this opportunity.


“I hope that through the festival, visitors listen to stories from far away and from right next door. “Stories with characters and ideas you never could have dreamed of, stories that touch you, thrill you, bring you happiness and perhaps move you to experience life in a different way.

“I am honoured to share my own stories and I’m filled with joyous anticipation to be guest director for this wonderful gathering of music, art, words, dance and performance. My hope is that the festival gives everyone a new story to hand down for generations to come.”

The festival will include free and participatory activities for all ages.

The annual Children’s Parade with Same Sky officially marks the start of the festival on Saturday May 4 and this year’s theme of folk tales from around the world will bring a riot of colour, music and joy to the city centre. Without Walls bring a visually spectacular group of outdoor events – from Ghost Caribou, a procession of magical illuminated animals, to a day of family friendly inventive performances on the beach level at the British Airways i360.

Marking 50 years since the first moon landings, Brighton will have its very own moon, with artist Luke Jerram’s realistic illuminated lunar model lighting up the sky above Queens Park – commissioned by Brighton Festival with the Without Walls network.

Immersive installations will pop-up in unusual locations across the city and beyond. Wet Sounds invites you to jump into the Prince Regent swimming pool for a unique audio-visual experience. Distorted Constellations, a performance art piece, in partnership with Lighthouse, will take viewers into the landscape of artist Nwando Ebizie’s brain; Flight by Vox Motus creates a spellbinding tale of the journey of two orphaned brothers through a captivating interactive diorama.


Five years after her death, Brighton Festival celebrates the life of seminal African American poet and civil right activist Maya Angelou with three powerful tributes: Caged Birds Do, Still I Rise, and New Daughters of Africa. Angelou appeared at Brighton Festival several times and these moving and uplifting performances will honour her legacy.

Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival says: “It has been such a privilege working with Rokia, her team and the artists she’s bringing from Mali.

“We look forward to learning from her unique perspective and hope visitors to Brighton and loyal festival-goers will enjoy three weeks of engaging and inspiring cultural events.

“This year we’re pleased to extend our programme across Sussex with a new partnership with Worthing Theatres and continue to reach out further across Brighton & Hove.

“In these uncertain times it’s important to appreciate the value of stories from near or far, and to come together as a community.”

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, says: “Brighton Festival is one of England’s cultural highlights, with a programme full of globally renowned artists and an international reputation for excellence.

“Through our funding we’re delighted to be a part of making that happen. “It gives so many people from all backgrounds the opportunity to experience and enjoy an amazing variety of great art – that opportunity is very important to the Arts Council.

“Recent Guest Directors have brought so much to Brighton Festival and I know that Rokia Traoré will continue this wonderful tradition.”

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