In the autumn of 2015, Guy Wah, founder of ZLS Creative, had an idea for a new writing festival, showcasing the best in Brighton & Hove’s creative community. At the same time, Sweet Venues were looking at ways of increasing the awareness of venues in the Western Road area of Hove.

(Brighton &) Hove Grown was born.

A Showcase of Local Talent

To be eligible to take part in the festival, shows must have a strong Brighton & Hove connection. Often this is simply that the writer and/or performer are local residents, but we also accept entries from people who work in the city, or whose shows feature a strong Brighton & Hove link.

All presentations should also be less than two years old. Typically this means that the show was performed for the first time less than two years ago, but we have also had updated versions of older shows, or shows presented in a new format. We’re pretty fluid in our definitions, but the key thing is that we’re not rehashing old material over and over again.

Funding & Sponsorship

(Brighton &) Hove Grown does not currently receive any funding, although we are in the process of applying for funds to expand our audience reach. We are heavily reliant on local businesses supporting the festival, either through sponsorship or by taking out advertising in our brochure. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss supporting the festival in some way.

JD Henshaw, Artistic Director of Sweet Venues
JD Henshaw

The Team

JD Henshaw – Artistic Director, Sweet Venues

JD’s first Edinburgh Fringe should have been his last with everything that could go wrong very much managing to! However, that was over ten years ago, and now, not only does JD bring at least two shows to Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe every year, he owns and runs Sweet Venues. When the Fringe bug bites, it bites hard!

Having successfully run his university theatre company for almost five years, he took the plunge and set up his own production company, DBS Productions, and hasn’t looked back since! Now he runs his production company and the wonderful Sweet Venues, trying to ensure that everyone gets that first (or fourth) Fringe experience that they desire. It’s a lot of late nights and may result in occasional howls to the moon, but the end result is more than worth all the hard work. When JD’s not Fringe-ing (it’s a word, trust us) or creating new work with DBS, he teaches and develops drama with underprivileged and vulnerable groups in the Highlands.

Ultimately, JD is here to make sure you have the best experience you can possibly have at whichever Fringe you’ve decided to be part of. If there’s anything you want to chat about regarding your production, the Fringe or the general comings and goings of the day, feel free to give him a shout and grab a cuppa.

Guy Wah licking his guitar
Guy Wah

Guy Wah – Founder, ZLS Creative

Having worked a variety of “real-life” jobs, Guy fell into acting at the age of 30. Throwing away his dreams of becoming a professional footballer or WWE wrestler, the world of theatre put him in a headlock and refused to let him go. With a passion for new writing and desire to influence social change, ZLS Creative was set up, thus combining Guy’s two new-found loves of theatre and social enterprise.

As well as delivering new writing and immersive experiences, Guy delivers holistic acting workshops – Acting Skills for Life – through ZLS Creative, and surpluses from these workshops are invested in self-confidence and self-esteem workshops for marginalised adults.

The spirit of social enterprise is one of collaboration and co-operation. With this in mind, Guy founded – a central online resource for actors, directors and producers in Brighton & Hove.

Guy is excited to be collaborating with JD and Sarah from Sweet Venues on this new community project.

Sarah Johnson – Administration and Front of House Manager, Sweet Venues

Sarah Johnson, Sweet Venues
Sarah Johnson

Sarah arrived at the Dukebox Theatre to do some Front of House shifts for Brighton Fringe 2013 and somehow never managed to actually leave. Working with Dukebox Theatre founder Mill Goble, she continued to take on more and more jobs until finally she took over management of the theatre’s administration and front of house duties in 2014. At the end of 2015, and following the merger with Sweet Venues, Sarah is slightly discombobulated to find that she is happily managing the day-to-day needs of the theatre, taking on responsibility for much of the programming, whilst still taking care of the other bits and pieces. Sleep is for the weak!

With a performance background that covers a huge array of skills(both in performance and production) and genres, Sarah has at last given up on the “normal” working world and is finally dedicating herself fully and completely to theatre in all its forms. Working with Sweet Venues is the perfect opportunity to indulge her passions and get thoroughly enthused about all of the fantastic work that is being created in our wonderful city by the sea.