By Brighton Festival chief executive Andrew Comben

THIS week we announced the programme for the 52nd Brighton Festival with the world-renowned artist David Shrigley as Guest Director.

With David’s help, the programme is more varied and wide-ranging than ever, reflecting his offbeat and darkly humorous view of the world - from a brand new alt-rock/pop pantomime which he has written and directed, to Life Model II, a nine foot (winking) sculpture of a model which everyone is invited to come and draw, with the resulting drawings hung up as part of the exhibition.

As our first Brighton-based Guest Director, David has also proven he is equally as committed to our local community (and Whitehawk football team) as the wonderful, wild and often funny work we will be presenting.

As ever, we’ll open Brighton Festival 2018 with the extraordinary children’s parade – the largest of its kind in Europe - produced in partnership with award-winning community arts organisation Same Sky.

With a different imaginative theme each year, the children’s parade has delighted participants and spectators for 27 years, attended by around 5,000 children from schools and community groups from across the region and cheered on by many thousands of spectators.

This is just one example of the many partnerships that allow us to bring the festival to the city and this year we will also continue the highly successful community partnerships in Hangleton and East Brighton known as Your Place, bringing artists and audiences from local communities together with those visiting Brighton Festival from all over the world.

These partnerships enable us to deliver our key purpose, to enrich lives and inspire creativity. Across Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival, we are proud that every year we reach more than 650,000 people with over 25,000 actively participating through the projects.

These include Miss Represented which provides opportunities for marginalised and vulnerable young women, the Umbrella Club which offers free arts events for children with life-limiting conditions, and through weekly music tuition in schools as part of Brighton and Hove Music and Arts, with whom we united last year to create more opportunities for creative and cultural learning.

We are also now more than halfway through our project to renovate the Grade I listed Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Grade 2 listed Studio Theatre - the first phase of a wider vision to restore and reunite the Royal Pavilion Estate and secure its long-term future in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council and the Royal Pavilion and Museums.

We have already successfully secured £19.8 million thanks to our partnership with Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund, Coast to Capital LEP and many others, and we are well on the way to achieving the full £21.2 million total we need to complete the project.

Opening up these buildings to more people and more great work is a fantastic opportunity for the city, and part of what has spurred us on is the realisation that we are not alone.

We share the Royal Pavilion Estate with the Royal Pavilion itself, the Royal Pavilion Garden and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, and the maintenance and restoration needs across all our sites are enormous.

Sharing our challenges together and supported by the dedication and creativity of brilliant staff teams, we knew that there could be a way to make the most of our unique assets and safeguard them for the future.

Where else but Brighton could bring together and celebrate three performing arts spaces, an internationally renowned festival, an historic Royal Palace, nationally significant collections and a heritage garden?

In 2012 we developed a plan together that seeks to transform the whole estate and reunify its operation, that takes care of the major restoration and reconfiguration work required to better look after our buildings, our staff and our visitors, and also makes a more coherent and compelling offer to all our audiences.

It’s a plan that we’re delivering on with this first phase of restoration and refurbishment. I believe working together in partnership is the best way to secure the future of arts and culture in Brighton and Hove.

I believe it makes the best sense financially, the best sense for the experience of audiences, visitors and residents and the best sense for the protection of staff, the creation of new jobs and the development of young people’s opportunities to learn new skills.

In this week then, when the 52nd Brighton Festival programme is revealed in all its inventive, creative and bonkers glory, I am full of gratitude that we live in such an open, energetic and collaborative city with such extraordinary heritage and history where anything feels possible.

As Truman said: "It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who takes the credit." It’s a mantra for many of us working across arts and culture in Brighton and Hove.

Long may that continue.