Lemn Sissay MBE to return as Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2021

May 29, 2020

Following Brighton Festival’s digital programme, Brighton Festival at Home, during lockdown, poet and author Lemn Sissay MBE has confirmed he will return as guest director in 2021.

The online programme featured a selection of artists and events that were due to take place across the city in May. The alternative version attracted online audiences from across the world – from local school children and families taking part in their own mini children’s parade to Lemn Sissay’s live reading with viewers joining from Africa to America.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival, said: ‘We are delighted that Lemn has agreed to stay on as guest director and we are determined to plan ahead for next year with live events, as well as using the lessons learned from this digital experience. The public’s support, through donating back ticket purchases, making a voluntary donation or accepting a credit voucher, shows the level of affection for Brighton Festival. There has been a huge gap in the city’s cultural life this year and we want to deliver a Festival that is stronger than ever but is also responsive to how arts events will need to adapt to make audiences feel safe.

‘Lemn’s artistic vision and the way he can speak to all of us about the things that really matter feels vitality important now. We can all look forward to Brighton Festival 2021 infused with his creative input and imagination.’

Lemn Sissay is a BAFTA-nominated award-winning writer, best-selling author, prolific speaker and performer who has inspired audiences across the world. He was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics and his Landmark Poems can be found on the walls of hospitals, libraries, pubs, universities and train stations, bringing his writing to communities in public spaces every day.

On his re-appointment as guest director, Lemn Sissay commented: ‘This year has taught us that everything cannot be mended but the act of trying is everything. The arts bring people together, whether they are in a physical space or on a digital platform. Artists are resilient, creative and forward-thinking in making sense of the world and we can take this exciting opportunity to shape Brighton Festival for a brave new world. I’m honoured to see where it will take us and to be with you to experience it together.’

Due to the coronavirus crisis, Brighton Festival 2020 was cancelled for the first time in its 53-year history and as a registered charity, lost almost 65% of its income that would have come from ticket sales.

Brighton Festival 2021 is due to take place from May 1-23, 2021, to help secure its future, donations can be made by Text BTNFEST to 70970 for £5 or 70191 for £10 or visit