Lemn Sissay: 'World class' team at Brighton Festival has 'risen to the challenge'

  • Lemn Sissay in conversation with ITV Meridian's Sangeeta Bhabra

The acclaimed poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay says the "world class" team behind the Brighton Festival has "risen to the challenge" of the post-pandemic world.

The 2020 edition of the festival was cancelled with just weeks to go because of the lockdown.

But it is now preparing to return in May and Sissay, who is resuming his role as the festival's guest director, says this year's performance will be "something special."

  • What to expect at this year's festival

- New work by the actress Jane Horrocks; theatre directors Neil BartlettTim Crouch and Peter Sellars.

- Performances from classical artists Roderick WilliamsPaul Lewis, Jessie Montgomery and Isata Kanneh-Mason;

- Musicians Le Gateau ChocolatEliza Carthy and Gwenno; visual artist Olafur Eliasson; comedians Josie Long and Mark Watson;

- Author Jacqueline Wilson and poet Michael Rosen will be celebrating his birthday in true festival style!

Speaking to ITV Meridian presenter Sangeeta Bhabra, Lemn Sissay said that planning this year's festival has been "a real challenge but it's been worthwhile."

"The Brighton Festival is a world class team of programmers and I'm just lucky to be onboard with them so yeah, we've risen to the challenge."

The 2021 festival is centered around theme of care, which Sissay said is what the arts "is all about."

"If you go to the theatre you'll go with a loved one or with a friend or with your children, you want to experience something that inspires you, that elevates you, that sets your imagination going," he said.

"All of these things are about care, but we are coming out of the pandemic, and care is what we need to take of ourselves and care is what we need to give to eachother.

"So I want people to come to the festival and enjoy it, but I want them to enjoy it with care. It seems like the perfect thing to say to people, 'let's come out through the arch of the festival, into this new normal, but let's take care of ourselves'"

Lemn Sissay said he hoped the festival would be a chance to focus on "celebrating ourselves, the arts, our imaginations and eachother."

"I think there's something special about this being the first festival announced, the first multi disciplinary festival announced.

"There's something special about Brighton and about this festival.

"I'd just urge people to go out to something they may not have experienced before. We deserve it!"