Brainchild Festival, 10 – 12th July 2015

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Brainchild is an intimate, grassroots arts festival with a 1000 person capacity happening this weekend 10th – 12th July in a field in East Sussex, England. Music, spoken word, art, film, theatre and for the first time since it was founded three years ago, comedy, will come together under the umbrella themes of body, space, power and change.

Musically, Brainchild has proved to be a really exciting ground for talented newcomers and future big names. Steez, the South London collective are a main collaborator that has seen King Krule and other lesser known acts such as Thidius, an electronic pop group with hip-hop and jazz influences that have inherited King Krule’s former bassist, bring in young crowds at the festival as well as at their monthly get-together in a South London venue (please see their Facebook page for details). Free until 2014 and since then only £3-5 a pop, introduced only, their website states, to remunerate musicians and artists and keep the night going. Undoubtedly a very respectable sum for such a significant contribution to a young and promising arts scene.

Likewise, the community spirit and informal setting have been values shared at Brainchild where Steez have taken part since the festival’s beginnings. The festival atmosphere is one where performers intermingle with spectators off stage, a rare characteristic in our age of brand-sponsored stages, glamping and VIP festival ‘experiences’. Brainchild seems interested in getting its festival-goers contributing to the event, with a volunteer scheme that refunds half the £65 ticket. They also differentiate themselves from the Glastos of the festival calendar by not emphasising a lineup of big headliners playing on main stages whose corporate backing removes a sense of authenticity to the experience.

Brainchild’s founder, Marina Blake is 22 and just graduated from UCL in English Literature, having spent a lot of time alongside her degree planning how to make the festival happen. Marina explained that the whole organisation from the very beginning was a lesson in DIY, trial and error, but also in collaboration which ended up bringing rewarding fruit.

Every January, Brainchild have also had a ‘warm-up’ event in London (previous locations have been Peckham and New Cross) organised through Facebook to showcase some of their collaborators and draw new audiences into experiencing a taster for what might come in the summer. It also gives momentum to the organisation that otherwise keep themselves going through internal meetings year round to organise the summer festival and brainstorm ideas (hence the festival name, perhaps) to improve the experience year on year.

So if you’re looking for a musical experience every Summer surrounded by all kinds of media and art in a collaborative, community-driven setting with some lovely surprises from young British acts brought in for the value of their contribution to the event rather than for their name (although there are some performers who have made one for themselves since such as King Krule, or spoken word champion and poet Harry Baker (link to his TED performance), this is probably the best place to start!

✮ ✮ ✮ Brainchild’s Facebook page ✮ ✮ ✮

✮ ✮ ✮  Brainchild’s Website ✮ ✮ ✮