Arts lovers in Brighton and Hove were treated to an evening of music, drama and dance recently at a festival featuring performers with learning disabilities. Darren Rutland on stage

The Brighton Performing Arts Festival took place at Hove's Windmill Theatre, and was organised by CMG, an independent service provider for people with learning disabilities and associated complex needs. Performances were given by service users to an audience of staff, family members and friends. Guests saw an array of different performances from more than 60 people. These included a magic light show; a fashion show; scenes from different musicals such as Grease; DJ sets; and a range of bands, including The Untamed and The Metal Gods. 

Darren Rutland, a service user and singer in The Untamed, said "The band practiced really hard in the 6 weeks before the concert, and some of my band mates were quite nervous. We were pretty tired afterwards but felt great, and the crowd enjoyed it.  We're looking forward to more concerts in the future." Service user Ashley Richardson singing

Lynsey Way, CMG's psychologist and the event organiser, said: "The evening was an enormous success and it was fantastic to see so many people come from all across the Brighton and Hove area to see everyone on stage. "Performing in front of a large number of people can be a nerve-racking experience but everyone did really well and enjoyed the chance to show off their skills. It was a great opportunity for our service users to build up their confidence, at the same time as enjoying the talents of others, and many of them are already busy practising for future events!"