Brainchild, a not-for-profit music, arts and ideas festival, is coming to the fields and woods of Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum this month. It was founded in 2011 when the organisers were only 19 years old: the camping event now has five stages and 3,000 people on site. Creative Director Marina Blake tells us more about the ethos of Brainchild, and this year’s programme.
It’s important to remember what it’s like to be 19. And how much bringing something into reality feels like a really big deal: moving something from an idea and a dream to something that has a place in the world.
Our mission is to celebrate and develop young people and give them the space, confidence and network to engage with what matters to them, be it food, music, politics, discussion, whatever it is. It’s about trying to give people that little bit of something they need to take it forward and make a brainchild of some description.
There’s no sponsorship. It’s rare today to have something that is not commercially driven. The scale of it versus the financial resources have always been quite ill-matched, which has basically necessitated that people have done it for more than money. Which has meant that the atmosphere is charged with intention and positivity.
Our programme has evolved. I think about 30% is participatory, we have lots of open mics, jam sessions, led discussions and lots of opportunities for people to learn skills. For example, we’ve got CDR coming down for a music production workshop, who are Brighton-based. There are things such as zine making, and a workshop called Documenting Your Culture, led by writer Emma Warren.
The arts programme this year is sensational. We’re exploring themes of endings, looking at the taboos around death and grief, looking at climate change and the end of the planet, looking at the end of gender and conventional ways. And of course on the flip side of that are possible new futures for those things.
For example there’s A Hundred Words for Snow, which is literally a grief and climate change show. Then there’s also a show called Team Viking, which is a true story about grief for a friend, which is very beautiful. Sparks is actually a musical about death. Travis Alabanza is doing a talk/poetry, while on a bed, about heightened visibility for trans liberation. And also Pecs Drag Kings are making a new series of sketches for the festival called Soft Bois, exploring new possibilities for masculinity. They’re really funny.
We have quite a few international artists, including Alice Phoebe Lou, who’s South African but lives in Berlin. She’s basically built her entire audience through busking but has a huge worldwide following, she’s amazing. Another one we’re really excited about is Duendita from Queens in New York. There should be a new invention that measures goosebumps per minute… she is an insane producer and singer.
Photo by Jerome Toole
12th to 14th, brainchildfestival.co.uk