Last night I enjoyed one of the most surreal nights of free entertainment Brighton has to offer as part of Brighton City Council-supported 'White Nights' festival.
Highlights included a midnight session at the swimming pool, watching a montage of film clips set in - wait for it - swimming pools, while eating popcorn and ignoring the swimmers below.
There were two giant plastic cats dispensing wisdom in Jubilee Square, a virtual cycle race through the streets of Brighton, animated space invaders projected onto the walls of the Unitarian Church in New Road, and a late night of apocalyptic poetry and 'live art' installations at the Phenix Art Gallery.
The streets were pretty full late into the evening, and everyone was really friendly. Somehow there seemed to be relatively-few tourists, so while the busy streets gave Brighton a cosmopolitan feel for the night people didn't seem to have the self-centred attitude so often displayed by tourists.
So all good, really: I look forward to next year, and hope the local Arts Commission and City Council are inspired to support more art-based, free, night-time activities throughout the year too.
But not everyone has been as enthusiastic as me about it. Last week all councillors received an email suggesting that it was ironic that 'White' Nights was taking place during 'Black' History Month - a celebration which, he implies, has received less council support.
The sender suggested the festival should be renamed 'light night' (as in many other towns and cities holding similar events), saying:
"...as an ethnic minority resident of the city I don’t feel that the name of the festival celebrates the diversity of the city or indeed of an arts festival."
Furthermore, he suggested the event could incorporate a celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of lights marked around the world with processions and street parties last week.
Well I think he might have a point: White Lights was fantastic. Although there were events specifically focused on ethnic minority arts, it still felt mono-cultural. According to the 2001 census (now hopelessly out of date, of course) the city's Black and Minority Ethnic Population is about 15,000 people. Not many of them were out and about last night.
But racism doesn't have to be deliberate, or obvious: I really believe if someone reports that they have been the victim of racism then they probably have - and we at least have a duty to look more closely at their claims. So let's see if we can make the festival a little more inclusive next year.