Brighton Festival has announced its Guest Director for 2023 will be the critically acclaimed musician, producer, DJ and broadcaster Nabihah Iqbal.

Brighton Festival was established in 1967 and is the largest annual curated multi-arts festival in England. Next year’s Festival will take place from 6-28 May and is a celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events in venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

Following a background in law and ethnomusicology, Nabihah Iqbal’s debut as a recording artist came in 2017 with the release of her critically acclaimed album Weighing of the Heart on the UK’s Ninja Tune label. Garnering huge praise from the likes of The Guardian, Dazed and BBC Radio, it was described by Pitchfork as ‘some of the finest, most viscerally satisfying electronic pop music of the year’. She is currently a resident artist at London’s Somerset House Studios, where she is writing and recording her second album due for release next year.

Brighton Festival’s Guest Directors reflect the city’s spirit of openness and enquiry and help consolidate the Festival’s reputation as a ‘crucible of ideas’. The role is designed to inspire an events programme where art highlights and comments on the complexities of the world around us.

Nabihah Iqbal will be Brighton Festival’s 14th Guest Director, following in the footsteps of Anish Kapoor, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Kae Tempest, Lemn Sissay OBE and, in 2022, architect Marwa Al-Sabouni & theatre-maker Tristan Sharps.

On becoming Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2023, Nabihah Iqbal says:

“It is an absolute honour to take on the role of Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2023. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to bring together artists and thinkers whose work I truly admire, to culminate in a celebration of creativity, ideas and community. It’s so important to support each other, to nurture the spaces and scenes in which we operate and to work together and be open-minded – these are the things which have inspired my vision for the Festival. Looking back on my early days of organising DIY music shows in libraries and launderettes with my friends, and now with this incredible curatorial opportunity in front of me, the whole journey of getting to this point feels even more poignant. I’m looking forward to putting together a festival that is beautiful, memorable and inspiring.”

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says:

Nabihah Iqbal personifies the eclectic, intellectually curious and culturally adventurous spirit of Brighton Festival. Working with Nabihah is a joyful, mind-stretching, energising journey through a vast range of art and artists. We can’t wait to bring her vision for the Festival to audiences next year and share the excitement she and her collaborators have for this great crucible of culture and ideas.”

In addition to her work as a musician, Iqbal has built a formidable reputation as a DJ and tastemaker, frequently presenting shows across the BBC on Radio 1, Radio 4, 1Xtra, Asian Network, World Service and 6Music. Reflecting her ethnomusicologist background, she hosts a regular show on NTS Radio, exploring musical traditions and cultures as well as championing new music and artists.

Iqbal has performed extensively, including at Tate Modern, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Barbican and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, and her international appearances have taken her to China, the USA, Russia, Australia and South Africa.

Inter-disciplinary projects are key to Iqbal’s work and she has collaborated with Chinese artist Zhang Ding; photographer Wolfgang Tillmans; composed music for the Turner Prize; and been part of a group performance at the Barbican’s major Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective. As part of her ‘Glory To Sound’ project at Somerset House, she curated a series of live talks, music and club nights where the likes of historian David Olusoga, DJ Gilles Peterson and pioneering electronic artist SOPHIE explored their love for music.

Nabihah Iqbal has been working closely with the Brighton Festival programming team to develop a diverse and inclusive programme of events for 2023, which will be revealed on 23rd February 2023.

Brighton Festival will take place from 6-28 May 2023. Find out more here brightonfestival.org



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