Last week saw the arrival of the first-ever University of Sussex Students’ Union (USSU) Societies Festival, a community engagement project spreading across the city, welcoming the local community to come and join in with the activities of some the societies.
The event, supported by Brighton and Hove Council’s Adult Learning Festival, saw a programme of 13 events entertaining Brightonians of all ages.
The week began with the University of Sussex Big Band performing on Brighton Band Stand on the sea front. The weather was not favourable, but this did not stop locals coming to watch the show in the rain.
A member of the audience said: “I heard the music from my house half a mile away and had to come and see. I’m glad I did – it was amazing!”
The Photographic Society held their light workshop on Wednesday evening on Sussex campus with 25 students and members of the local community experimenting with their cameras in weird and wonderful lighting.
On Thursday there was a series of sessions held at Jubilee Library, including a discussion on the Copenhagen Debate from the Environmental Society and a facilitated talk on Islamophobia from Unite Against Fascism. The sessions were a way to share thoughts and opinions on current affairs between students and public alike.
The highlight of the week was Sussex Musical Theatre Society’s (SMuTS) production of West Side Story at Sallis Benney Theatre, which entertained over 800 members of the community. The production has been in preparation for the last five months.
The 30-strong cast and orchestra of 25 amazed the crowds with their rendition of the Bernstein and Robbins classic. One viewer exclaimed that it was “the best SMUTS production to date”.
Overall, the week was a positive step towards continuing USSU’s active community engagement strategy, creating new links with Brighton and Hove City Council, Comic Sport Relief, and several smaller community projects throughout the city.
The combination of events was well-received and the plan is to repeat the week next year, increasing the amount of society sessions and improving community participation.