The Brighton Festival was officially launched yesterday with producer Jane McMorrow saying the city itself was integral to its success.

According to Mrs McMorrow, the city's residents, visitors, geography and infrastructure all become part of the art.

She said: "We don't just parachute work in here and put it on our stages.

"We use the city as a starting point for a lot of the work we do."

Brighton and Hove City Council has contributed 20 per cent of this year's budget for the May festival, which boosts the city's economy by £20 million each year.

Paula Murray, head of arts and creative industries at the council, said: "It's not a festival you could lift and transplant somewhere else.

"It happens here because of the way the city is.

"It's rooted in the locations and in what people want to see.

"We must not underestimate this at a time when towns are becoming ever more homogeneous.

"Anything which contributes to the unique personality of a place is hugely important."

A packed festival programme has been announced which will see 210 performances take place in 23 days.

Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker, American novelist Gore Vidal, film director Mike Leigh and children's laureate Michael Rosen are among the well-known names on the bill.

The free outdoor programme has been expanded this year following the demise of the Streets of Brighton event, while the tradition of site-specific performances continues with shows aimed at encouraging audiences to see the city with fresh eyes.

Multimedia dramatists Blast Theory will stage a performance with an element of interactive installation.

Audience members will cycle across the city picking up messages.

Theatre company Periplum and pyrotechnic specialists World Famous have teamed up for two site-specific shows - The Bell, which will take place in Wild Park, Moulsecoomb, and Arquiem in the grounds of Brighton College.

Tickets are on sale from February 29.

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Click here to watch the launch video