Coronavirus: ‘Devastated’ organisers cancel Brighton Festival 2020 ‘for the first time in 53 years’

This morning (Wednesday, 18), the organisers of Brighton Festival 2020 have cancelled the event because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Festival organisers say they’ve made the decision based on the latest government advice around social distancing measures.

They added that the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic in the UK is projected to coincide with the timing of the Festival in May.

Brighton Festival was due to take place from 2 to 24 May 2020.

It’s the first time the ‘largest annual, curated multi-arts festival in England’ has been cancelled in it’s 53 year history.

Festival staff are working with artists and partners to discuss whether some events can happen at a later date or in a different way.

The festival said that due to the scale of the event, and the inclusion of many international artists and touring companies, rescheduling as a whole would not be feasible.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival said:

“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.

“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.”

Brighton Festival 2020 Guest Director, poet and author Lemn Sissay said:

“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.

“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.”

Customers who have booked tickets for events will be contacted by the Festival ticket office as soon as possible with refund information.

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.

Cllr Alan Robins, Chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, Brighton & Hove City Council added:

“The cancellation of this year’s Festival is disappointing but inevitable given the current circumstances and is absolutely the right decision.

“We look forward to the Festival returning next year.”

Brighton Dome closed yesterday (March, 17) and is cancelling or postponing it’s events programme until further notice.

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