A Bright future ahead


Rogers Farm in Stonestile Lane on the Hastings / Westfield borders is an address you may not recognise but have no doubt it will feature regularly in the media as it did last week on Meridian TV who covered the launch of the Bright Foundation which I also had the opportunity to cover for Rye News.

The Bright Foundation is an arts education charity founded by Academy Award winning costume designer John Bright, based at Rogers Farm, a delightful location deep in the East Sussex countryside surrounded by 25 acres of private gardens and land.

The vision of the Bright Foundation is for all children and young people to have their imaginations sparked and their wellbeing nurtured through a quality cultural education, regardless of their background. The lifetime’s work of founder John Bright is the catalyst for creative learning and inspire a new generation of imaginative children and young people to reach their full potential.

The programme includes school visits, summer schools, performance projects, cross-curricular learning, wellbeing retreats, volunteering, family festivals, skills training and career support. The belief is the power of the arts and creativity to shape happier and healthier children and young people.

John Bright is a philanthropist and one of the world’s leading costume designers and costumiers and has captured the imaginations of audiences around the world over the past 50 years and in 1987 he was awarded an Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Costume Design for A Room with a View

John Bright with Hilary Kay and in the background, being interviewed, Jim Broadbent

John has been a lifelong collector and in 1965 his personal costume collection formed the beginnings of his company Cosprop, one of the world’s leading period costume houses. John and his team at Cosprop have collaborated and made costumes for a wide range of designers for productions on stage, film and TV.

In the mid-1980s he also began collecting children’s toys and childhood artefacts and has amassed a vast collection, dating back to the 18th century which we witnessed exhibited within the Barn Museum at Rogers Farm. His generosity has enabled The Bright Foundation to be formed and has bequeathed most of his estate to the foundation, including Cosprop, to support the charity in perpetuity.

The Bright Foundation press launch took place last Thursday at Rogers Farm and after registering we were treated with singing from Chantry Community Primary School choir then a recital by Piper Wren of Hastings Young Writers who recited a specially commissioned poem to celebrate the opening.

Actor Jeremy Irons enjoying one of the exhibits.

Chris Garlick, company manager for Cosprop, gave a welcome speech with introductions as we all took our seats in the Barn Theatre, a superb former agricultural building now a state of the art theatre, purpose designed and built for the foundation and included a big screen which featured messages from some of the ambassadors including Dame Judy Dench, Hugh Bonneville, Stephen Fry and Richard E Grant. Other ambassadors present at the launch included actors Jim Broadbent, Jeremy Irons, Anna Chancellor, Sinead Cusack and from BBC Antiques Road Show, Hilary Kay, who is a lecturer, author and a well known expert in toys and costumes.

Guests enjoying a relaxing drink on the terrace

John Bright was then interviewed live on stage by Claire Smith, senior curator special collections British Film Institute. Polly Risbridge, CEO of The Bright Foundation spoke about the vision for the future. The choir entertained us once more before lunch and a tour of the museum where we were able to see the collection and meet the ambassadors and guests.

The launch was a huge success, well organised, well executed and a wonderful opportunity to hear John Bright speak about his lifelong dream to help the local under privileged children and young people enjoy the opportunities and support they may never otherwise have the chance to experience.

For further information about The Bright Foundation and planned future events please visit www.thebrightfoundation.org.uk.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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