brighton photo fringe
The first brighton photo fringe, 2003
The first ever Brighton Photo Fringe was produced on a budget of £5115. It cost £5060 and made a profit of £54. Inkind support in design, coordination, printing, web programming and so on was estimated to be £13,000 but this does not take into account the many volunteers who worked tirelessly for free to ensure the success of the event.
The combination of word of mouth and call for entries resulted in a surprise number of entries for the first BPF. Having anticipated a dozen, the management of more than thirty contributors was a challenge for the small team, many of whom were also coordinating their own exhibitions. As the focus changed, Creagh moved into the role of Director, managing the finances, volunteers, photographers and marketing. The marketing plan included a wide mailout to universities, photography organisations, individuals, critics and curators. With the help of Polly Carter who was later to become the first paid Director of the Photo Fringe, a press release was sent out to a range of Creative Media and the resultant coverage helped to attract a large audience for the first year. Photoworks offered the Fringe a free full-page ad in the Brighton Photo Biennial edition of the magazine and the Brighton Photo Biennial devoted a page of their catalogue to the fringe.
The opening event was held at Brighton University Sallis Benny Theatre, with support from Brighton University. It was organized by Rupert Noble with Jason Evans as special guest DJ, with projections of all the exhibitions taking place around the city. A wave of openings then took place across the city in a wide range of different venues. The shortage of exhibition spaces meant that photographers had to be innovative with their choice of venue. Paul Reas and Magali Nougarède constructed a gallery out of a dusty basement in the media centre, creating an exhibition space that is today still used as a venue for photography and meting place for photographers. One of the most popular venues that year was an exhibition of hairstyles in a hairdressers, which featured in several magazines.
The press were incredibly supportive of the first BPF with the BJP giving it a double page spread, and several national design magazines offering mentions. At the very end, Seven Dials Gallery held an auction to raise money to cover some of the extra costs (which had come out of certain pockets) and with the success of this event, many photographers left with eachothers’ work, some new friends.
Posters, printed for free by Spectrum Photographic went up around the city to advertise the first event and invites went out with every brochure inviting the mailout to the opening event.