Brighton Digital Festival celebrates success on tenth anniversary
Brighton and Hove and beyond saw more than 2500 people attend 55 hybrid, in-person and online events at this year’s 10 day celebration of digital culture at Brighton Digital Festival 2021. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the biennial festival directed by arts charity Lighthouse, took place from 29 October to 7 November – it plans to return in the autumn 2023 as a biennale.
Festival events included workshops and conferences, exhibitions, film installations and immersive audio, visual and VR experiences, appealing to all audiences and bringing together communities from across Greater Brighton.
Alli Beddoes, Brighton Digital Festival CEO, said: “Brighton Digital Festival 2021 has been a fantastic showcase for local, national and international creative digital talent. I’m delighted the festival was able to return this year, despite the uncertainty for all events due to the pandemic thanks to a lot of support from local businesses and companies.
“The festival was established as a platform to bring together the local community, and this year has been no exception. We wanted the festival to be a space that could make sense of the world we are in, or to totally escape it for a while. The breadth of the programme enabled artists and creatives to express their different voices and experiences whilst challenging the norms of digital culture. We were thrilled to be running the festival’s first Tech Amnesty, where over 100 devices were donated to our partners at Tech Take-Back to clean up and redistribute to people in the city who don’t own such devices. The driving force for this amnesty was to ensure that BDF, as a grassroots festival, can be enjoyed by as many people in the city as possible. Sending a huge thank you to everyone who came along and took part in the festival this year.”
The 2021 festival’s ten-day programme comprised three strands – the Core Programme, BDF Open Programme and BDF Sessions. Highlights included:
Exhibited by Lighthouse on behalf of Brighton Digital Festival, the core programme was commissioned by Digital Democracies, and composed of five events in partnership with Freedom Festival in Hull and Frequency Festival in Lincoln.
Audio visual piece ‘If I Could Get To You’ by renowned photographer Amaal Said, explored how we document our personal histories, and proved popular with passers-by who encountered the exhibition through the Enter Gallery window at night.
Brighton Digital Festival has always been a space to test ideas and trial projects in development. As part of its reflection on the role of digital tech in a pandemic, ‘From Home: Digital Democracies Prototyping Session’ used digital technology to capture and share the experiences of home living over the past 18 months.
Produced in line with the festivals’ community-led ethos, the open programme delivered more than 40 events of various sizes. Immersive experience events ‘People Like Us: Gone, Gone Beyond’ and ‘Pioneer: Victorian engineering & ambition in augmented reality’ generated many conversations on social media, with the highest number of attendees.
The festival also saw the return of the regular ‘SheSays Brighton’ conference, with more than 70 people turning up for the female-led online talks. ‘Alternative Stages, Live Music Meets a New Reality’ opened up an engaging discussion of the future and challenges of virtual gigs and ‘Stickybits VR Game Show’ was broadcast to a live audience to prove that VR doesn’t need to be a solitary experience.
Another interactive VR highlight was ‘Eva Quantica VR’ by artist Maf’j Alvarez, commissioned by the National Gallery, which reflected the city’s lockdown experience.
With inclusion at its heart, the festival also played host to ‘Queer Photography- a non-definitive survey’, which celebrated the launch of Brighton’s new LGBTQAI+ safe space The Ledward Centre and ‘Carousel TV’, a platform that highlighted the creative talent of learning disabled artists.
BDF sessions comprised seven virtual and in-person masterclasses that covered topical issues such as influencer marketing, the circular economy and tech advice for families. It also covered NFT’s, Women’s unspoken stories, digital experiences for those living with neurodiversity and future representation in the digital space.
The BDF sessions are available for purchase for £5 to rewatch until 16 December on the Eventbrite website.
The tenth Brighton Digital Festival was able to remain grassroots-led thanks to its sponsors, including social intelligence company Brandwatch, recruitment agency Uplift and multi-media event space Ironworks Studios. As well as digital marketing company Oban International, global marketing partner Brilliant Noise, coworking space Plus X Brighton and photography company MPB, who mentored and provided kit for the Lighthouse Young Creatives crew to document all the events.
Brighton Digital Festival returns in the autumn 2023.
To keep up to date with the latest news and how to get involved in the 2023 festival, visit www.brightondigitalfestival.org.uk or follow @DigitalBrighton on Twitter and @digital_btn on Instagram.