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Brighton Festival names poet, rapper, novelist and playwright Kate Tempest as 2017 Guest Director 

Kate Tempest - © Hayley Louisa Brown
Brighton Festival has announced that the Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017 is the acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest. 
Described by the Guardian as ‘one of the brightest British talents around,’ Tempest’s prolific artistic output across multiple disciplines has attracted her considerable acclaim and a unique range of audiences.  Having made her live debut as a spoken-word artist at just sixteen, Tempest initially conceived of herself as a rapper, however she is now equally at home as a poet, novelist, musician and playwright - garnering extraordinary success in each field. 


In 2012 her debut play Wasted (Brighton Festival 2012) was praised as ‘electrifying’ and ‘ingenious’; a year later her self-performed epic narrative poem Brand New Ancients won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and completed a sell-out run in the UK and New York, winning a Herald Angel at Edinburgh Fringe. In 2014, her debut solo album Everybody Down was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize while the same year she was named one of 20 Next Generation poets by the Poetry Book Society, a prestigious list picked just once per decade. Most recently her debut novel The Bricks That Built the Houses has earned her yet more accolades and a slot on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. In October her highly anticipated new album ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ will be released through Fiction Records featuring new single Don’t Fall In.

At 31, Kate Tempest will be the youngest Brighton Festival Guest Director to date, taking the mantle from pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who led the 50th Brighton Festival this year. Other previous Guest Directors include visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), musician Brian Eno (2010) and Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011) who have all taken turns shaping the three-week programme of cultural events. 

Kate Tempest says: "The arts should be social, not elitist. They should be part of our everyday life. They should be in our communities, not only on elevated platforms or behind red velvet ropes. Music, literature, theatre, film - these things are so important, they bring us together into the same space, they give us ourselves, they bring us to life, they beam our humanity back to us in all its hideous beauty. And in these times, with the fear spreading everywhere and the divisions between us deepening daily, we desperately need to remember that we are all part of the same thing. Nothing does that for me more profoundly or joyously than standing in the crowd watching a gig, or a play, or a painting. It’s like a little victory you get to keep forever. I want us to offer that experience to everyone.” 

Tempest’s appointment as Guest Director follows a number of successful appearances at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival. After her acclaimed play Wasted sold out Brighton Festival 2012, Tempest performed Brand New Ancients to two full houses in the Corn Exchange as part of Brighton Dome’s spring 2014 programme. In 2015 she headlined an exclusive Brighton Festival event alongside fellow wordsmiths George the Poet and Hollie McNish.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival says: “We are privileged to announce such a distinctive and singular talent as our Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017. Kate Tempest is uniquely positioned to fulfil the role – her seemingly limitless creativity has led to a body of work that straddles an extraordinary array of art forms and has earned her fans of all ages and from all walks of life. She is also passionate about the arts and its power to bring communities together – vital now more than ever. I can’t wait to continue the conversations with her as we work towards creating a Festival for next year which I hope will be a true inspiration to all.”

In 2016 Brighton Festival celebrated its 50th year of commissioning and producing innovative arts and culture. With a total audience reach of over 225,000, the milestone programme was the most successful in its history with more people engaging with the festival, both as audiences and participants, and more tickets sold than ever before. The Festival’s biggest talking point was Nutkhut’s Dr Blighty, an ambitious, large-scale, immersive, outdoor experience co-commissioned in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums and 14-18 NOW, which highlighted the story of wounded Indian soldiers hospitalised in Brighton during WW1. Ending each night with a spectacular light display using projection-mapping, Dr Blighty set the city and social media abuzz and drew audiences of almost 65,000 over its five day run. 

Brighton Festival 2017 - which will take place from 6-28 May 2017 - will feature exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies. Full programme details will be announced in February 2017.

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