About the College

Brown Mountain College of the Performing Arts was founded in 1906 as way of commissioning and presenting new interdisciplinary performance, while also researching the rich history of live genres throughout the 20th century. The college has no buildings and no permanent staff or pupils: it is a notional institution that constantly reinvents its own history and can change shape to accommodate each new project.

Although not as well known as Black Mountain College in the US, Brown Mountain similarly spawned much seminal interdisciplinary performance work in the UK around the middle of the 20th century. The recently appointed new Deans aim to revive this ethos of collaboration between artists, dancers, theatre makers, filmmakers, political activists and comedians to make challenging, enriching and risk-taking
new work.

The College claims such influential faculty and alumni as Paul Robeson, John Cage and Lamb Chop. The current Deans of College were appointed in 2006 and aim to revive an avant-garde ethos of collaboration between artists, dancers, actors, filmmakers, political activists and comedians. The Deans are Mel Brimfield, Sally O’Reilly and Ben Roberts.

Previous Brown Mountain College events include an ongoing series of thematic screenings, The Erratic Film Club (2006–), the celebratory Centenary Cabaret (Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, London, 2006) and Cabaret of Curiosities (Royal Academy Life Room, 2008), while the forthcoming Brown Mountain Festival of the Performing Arts will take place in the Slade Research Centre, Woburn Square, London, during Frieze Art Fair, October 2008.




The Current Deans

Mel Brimfield (born Oxford 1976, lives in London) is Associate Producer at The Collective gallery, Edinburgh, and the curator of The Comic Book Project publication (published by Revolver) and touring performance programme appearing at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe, Film, Art and Book Festivals, and at the ICA Comica Festival. Other relevant credits include co-production of the performance programme for Whitstable Biennale 2006, and devising and producing Radio Radio (2003–4 at The Trade Apartment, London, The International 3 Manchester and De Appel Curating Institute, Amsterdam).

Sally O’Reilly (born Portsmouth 1971, lives in London) is a writer, lecturer and co-editor of Implicasphere, as well as co-producer of the performance programme for Whitstable Biennale 2006, co-writer, producer and performer of the Brown Mountain Cabaret at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club (October 2006) and curator of Beacon Art Project, Lincolnshire, 2007.

Ben Roberts (born London 1976, lives in London) is Programme Co-ordinator at Camden Arts Centre, with responsibility for an ongoing programme of live art, talks and events. He is also co-founder and director of Tiffin Projects, commissioning site-specific performances most recently Ilana Halperin’s Towards Heilprin Land (2007). He was assistant curator at the Mead Gallery (1999) before graduating from Warwick University with an MA in European Cultural Policy.


The Department of Creative Accounting is historically one of the most innovative and dynamic organisations in arts fundraising. However we still rely on our Patrons and Honorary Fellows to support our ongoing activity.

To fundraise for the College and Festival we have now released our Performativity Bonds, which can be invested in to support a particular performance piece, the Festival as a whole or the College in general.

Modelled on the US Liberty Bonds, purchased by US citizens to support troops in the Great War and cashed in afterwards with interest, Performativity Bonds offer individuals, companies and institutions the opportunity to transform financial outlay into cultural capital, which then accrues public interest. The limited edition bonds (pictured, above) are designed by artists Edwina Ashton, David Austen and Lesley Sharpe.

Brown Mountain College is a not-for-profit venture; all financial support is gratefully received and applied directly to commissioning and production.

If you would like to know more about Performativity Bonds, Honorary Fellowships or supporting any of our activities, please contact the Deans of the College: