Foundations and First Year
The first ever meeting of what was to
become the Brighton Photo Fringe was held at the Sanctuary Café, Waterloo East
Street, Brighton at 7pm on 23rd June 2003. The meeting was organized by Steve White of
Spectrum Photographic who brought together Lisa Creagh, Gordon MacDonald, then
editor of Photoworks Magazine and Paul Reas, then lecturer at Brighton
University that the pace of the fringe began to build. The notes from this
meeting read as follows:
This meeting of the Brighton Photo
Fringe rounded out some of the hopes and expectations for a collection of
photographic events taking place in conjunction with the Brighton Photo Biennial
(BPB) this October.
The aims of the Fringe were as follows,
1. To present Brighton based photographers
the opportunity to exhibit during the Biennial.
2. To promote the photographic arts in the
area, stimulating a visual arts scene which currently suffers from a lack of
venues and events.
3. To bring the Biennial audiences in
contact with a range of activities outside of the official Biennial program.
4. To work in partnership with the Biennial
in order to broaden and enhance the existing festival of photography.
Those attending defined their roles:
Lisa Creagh: To coordinate the events, publicise the
season as a whole and bring in other organisers for individual projects. To
oversee the design and production of marketing materials.
Steve White (Spectrum): To host a group exhibition of Spectrum
clients, offer practical advice and support for the overall project in the form
of production using the resources available at Spectrum and possibly organise a
phone/photo exhibition with the assistance of others.
Gordon McDonald: To act as a bridge between the official Biennial
and this project, offer friendly advice and support on behalf of Photoworks,
although not through Photoworks as they are already participating, and to bring
in other artists who may be interested in participating.
Paul Reas: To organise and sponsor the exhibition at
the Media Centre. To potentially sponsor the West Street project and to bring
in contributors and photographers.
From this initial Monday night meeting, a
weekly time was set for photographers to meet and discuss ideas for the Fringe.
These meetings, always taking place on Mondays at 7pm at the Sancturary Café
grew exponentially week by week, eventually attracting as many as thirty
photographers interested in taking part.
Present at the second meeting were Steve
White from Spectrum Photographic, Paul Reas - Photographer, Lisa Creagh -
Coordinator, Barbara Taylor - Photographer, Cathy Gillo - Photographer, Jeff Hemmings-
Brighton Fringe Festival, Steve Swingler - Designer, Magali Nougarede –
Photographer. Notes from the second meeting (1/7/03) read “Open Submission was
defined as an open call for submissions which would not need to conform to a
criteria. “ Opinions were divided with the arguments against an open submission
centering on the possibility that this would be a time consuming process
producing too many options which only posed problems given the tight
constraints of time. There was a concern, also about the quality of work that
may be submitted.
Those in favour of open submission argued
that the likely response from a short publicity campaign would only attract
practicing photographers who would have the dedication necessary to put on
their own shows within the time constraint. Also that there may be a wealth of
talent in Brighton which would remain untapped without the public announcement
of a fringe and that this would be a shame.
The conclusion reached was that those who
wished to invite photographers would do so, and those who wished to take care
of an open submission could also do so and these two methods were ultimately
complimentary to the fringe as a whole in aiming to offer opportunities to well
known and lesser-known photographers. A clause was written into the terms and
conditions allowing the organisers to block any unsuitable submissions but this
veto was never needed.
The process of calling for submissions was
then defined as follows:
1. The design of an A3 poster by Steven
2. The creation of an application form to
be sent out to respondents
3. An email address as the point of contact
4. The possibility of a short website where
this process could be fully automated (ie, the respondant goes to a web address
on the poster and downloads a form)
5. A deadline of August 15th for all
The insight and experience of Jeff Hemmings
in founding and running a fringe was crucial at this stage to help the team
quickly decide upon the best structure for the BPF in terms of finance and
With only a few months remaining, they were
able to create the architecture of the organisation quickly, with design
produced by Steve Swingler and web programming by Lourdes Vero Diez who worked from
the creative digital collaboration called Interzones.
The name of the organization was decided at
the following meeting, along with a structure of how to finance the marketing
and distribution of information. This meeting was attended by Danny Wilson, who
went on to help shape the organization as one of the subsequent Directors. The
first Brighton Photo Fringe was financed entirely by contributions from
participating photographers, with inkind sponsorship from Spectrum
Photographic. All work by the organisers, designers and coordinators was
carried out for free.
By Monday 14th July, the outline
and structure of the organization was in place, with branding, bank account,
website structure, entry deadlines, financial plan and marketing strategy. With
only month left for planning, Creagh set about relationship building with
Jeremy Miller, first Director of the Brighton Photo Biennial and Paula Murray, Head of Culture and Economy at Brighton
and Hove City Council.
expressed his support for the BPF in the following ways:
1. Moral support
2. Joint distribution of brochures
including our mailing list merged with theirs
3. Some inclusion in their catalogue
(perhaps a mention would be useful?)
4. Joint printing to save us both costs
5. Coordination of design and look
6. Cooperation in terms of scheduling of
This support from the BPB was crucial in
establishing the BPF as an integral part of the main event and fostered strong
ties between the two organisations, which have remained in place to this day.
The council too were to play an important role, but this was to come later.
The First Brighton Photo Fringe