Festival welcomes human rights advocate

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Brighton Festival 2011 welcomes human rights advocate and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as guest director for this year’s festival in May.

Aung San Suu Kyi said: “It is especially pleasing for me to see, albeit remotely, Brighton Festival taking shape this year, and to think that so many people will come together in May to celebrate great art and experience the inner peace it brings.

“It is wonderful too to know that there is such support for the effort to bring democracy and freedom to Burma, for which the Burmese people have been diligently working for so long. I wish everyone involved in Brighton Festival this year – the artists and the audience – the happiest of times. And thank you. Please continue to use your liberty to promote ours.”

Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Dome and Festival, said: “It is a great honour to build a festival around Aung San Suu Kyi and to take our inspiration from her. I hope this programme reflects some of her extraordinary spirit.

“I’ve been heartened that an incredible collection of artists have been so eager to come together under the umbrella of Brighton Festival to celebrate this iconic woman who is an inspiration to so many.

“Aung San Suu Kyi has fought passionately for over two decades for democracy and human rights in Burma and taken to the heart of this year’s Brighton Festival is her plea ‘use your liberty to promote ours’, with artists, both local and international, presenting a powerful and wide-ranging programme.

“Brighton, as the UK’s most liberal city, is the ideal place to host a festival celebrating themes of freedom of expression, liberty and the power of the individual voice in society and will come alive in May as we celebrate and champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s cause and world-vision.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is an inspiration to many people around the world and particularly to many within the arts community. Brighton Festival is a unique opportunity for a collection of artists, who are passionate supporters, to respond to her and create headline events.

“Crossing all genres of the programme Brighton Festival 2011 includes events ranging from a new co-commissioned work by Turkish artist Kutluğ Ataman to a revival of the acclaimed site-specific theatre commission The New World Order by theatre company Hydrocracker based on Pinter’s political plays.

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s passion for Western classical music has also been reflected right across the programme, and includes Beethoven’s powerful hymn to freedom Fidelio in a concert performance with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Adam Fischer.”

Aung San Suu Kyi’s brother-in-law Adrian Phillips said: “Choosing Aung San Suu Kyi as guest director means Brighton Festival is able to present the very real and concerning issues in Burma to the public in a different way, through the universal language of the arts. Aung San Suu Kyi has often said how important music and the arts have been to her throughout her life and Brighton Festival is a wonderful opportunity to bring her struggle to a wider public, at a time when it is so important for the world to keep remembering what remains to be done in Burma.”