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Your Interview: Brighton Fringe boss Julian Caddy
10:40am Saturday 27th October 2012 in News
Each week we give you the opportunity to quiz a significant figure in Sussex. This edition of Your Interview is with the boss of England’s largest arts event, Brighton Fringe. Julian Caddy tells reporter Ben James about the future of the expanding event, how it can boost local business and what it’s like working with James Bond.
JANE WHITEMORE: Can there be too much of a good thing? Three weeks seems about right – why do we need another?
Julian Caddy (JC): I see the extra week as a small tweak that could make a huge difference. After talking to local artists, promoters, producers and the council, the view was unanimous in that it always seemed a pity that the Fringe would end before the second bank holiday weekend and half term.
There are so many families looking for things to do during this period, be they local or visitors to the city.
A fringe festival should (and if it is being run properly, will) always be morphing to ensure that it either trying new things or appealing to new audiences.
And if it doesn't work, then we just change it back.
In any case, there are always events that take place before or after the core dates so now we are officially marketing them and encouraging more.
Peter Bradbury: Where do you see the Fringe in five years’ time?
(JC): First we need to define the notion of 'fringe'.
For me, it is something that exists throughout the year, through both the normal programming at the established smaller venues, or through the many other city events.
As well as Brighton Fringe in May, there are festivals at other times, such as the Comedy Fringe, Photo Fringe and Pink Fringe.
There are others that don’t even necessarily have the word fringe in them, such as the Science Festival, that have a similar spirit and are not regularly or core funded organisations.
In five years’ time, there will be much closer collaboration, sharing services and resources. And as the largest Fringe in the calendar, our role is central to that, making use of the many services that we have to offer.
We will all be better organised to deliver what everyone wants which is a successful and diverse festival or event, wherever or whenever that may be.
From that we will of course all grow, but it will be quality, sustainable growth.
Alice Smeaton: I hear you appeared as a body double for Daniel Craig? What happened? What was it like? What was he like?
(JC): As a jobbing actor at the time, I jumped at the chance.
It was for Casino Royale, at Pinewood, filming Casino exteriors and shots for the promotional campaign.
I would go in for the setting up of shots and short bits where his face wouldn't be seen. Daniel Craig was pleasant, if aloof, and spent a fair bit of the time snuggling up to his girlfriend while the whole studio was subjected to the contents of his iPod.
It was just another gig so I've been quite surprised at the attention it has drawn, although I am quite enjoying it.
Adrian Mitchell: The Fringe used to be about spontaneity, inclusion and going against the grain. Now it seems to be very corporate and it costs acts a fair bit to take part. Has it lost its way and “sold out”?
(JC): Hmm. Lots of misconceptions here. A fringe is like a microcosm of the world: there is a unique and curious blend of the most commercial all the way to the least.
That is the journey that you, the audience are free to navigate. By its very nature, anyone can take part however, wherever, whenever they want. So I welcome as much risk-taking as possible. However, it’s uncurated so I don't get to decide.
The fringe is nothing without the participants that create it and it’s our job to facilitate things as much as possible to help people find venues, connect skills and resources, market the events globally, get the press in and offer a reliable service to sell tickets.
We also have to do it sustainably. We live in a world with very real financial constraints and if the Fringe central administration is to offer services, then these need to be paid for somehow.
Just under half is accounted for through registration fees and the other needs to be |found elsewhere. Less than 5% of our income is from public funding so that money needs to come from elsewhere, hence the commercial sponsorship.
We haven't sold out, we merely need the money to carry on doing what we have always done, but to do it much better.
It’s open access. If you think it's all corporate, then why don't you do something to mix things up a bit? I challenge you and I'd be happy to help.
Name not supplied: Why do we need the Fringe when we have the Festival?
(JC): The Brighton Festival does a great job.
But it is limited to its remit and resources. It is a programmed, curated festival and as such fulfils a specific role of bringing the great and the good of the arts establishment to the city and using the public and private funding it receives to pay for it. It’s marvellous. But that is not what Brighton Fringe is about.
Our organisation is a much leaner beast that helps to provide a platform for anyone to take part. The Festival has one guest director each year when in the Fringe every single participant can be, and that is many thousands.
Hana Sampson: I strongly believe that the arts can make a huge difference to society. The city is buzzing in May and I’m sure this must be a huge financial boost. Have you any estimate as to the amount the Fringe generates for the area? How can arts events help turn areas around financially?
(JC): You are right. We estimate £10 million in additional income for the city based on previous research. In May the 740+ Brighton Fringe events, that's over 3,500 performances in 192 venues, attracted audiences of 206,000.
Those people will likely each have bought food and drink while they were out, in addition to the ticket sales if it was a paid-for event.
Add that to the venues', performers' and producers' spending on their posters, flyers, equipment hire, staffing. And what about the accommodation market, train ticket income, parking charges, taxis, bus fares, petrol?
The repercussions for the local economy are absolutely massive. We are a young organisation representing a burgeoning arts sector so will be commissioning more research in future.
Mary Bradbury: I’m 79. Is the Fringe just for young people?
(JC): Brighton Fringe caters for all ages, backgrounds and perspectives, whether you are an audience member or a participant. And everyone's Fringe experience is different as a result. If you are ever looking for a particular genre and can't find it in the brochure, do give us a call or pop into our box office in May.
Patricia Chanter: What can we expect from 2013’s Fringe?
(JC): I’ve no idea. It’s there to be discovered, that's what makes it so exciting and I look forward to joining you for the ride.
REGISTRATION for next year’s Fringe opened this week. To apply to put on your own performance call 01273 765902 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Next year’s event will run from May 4 to June 2.
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