Black Brighton Market has been something I have been working on in my mind for a good few years now, It was inspired from a previous project of mine which, financially and planning wise, was a lot simpler. When I initially came up with the idea of BBM I kept it quiet for a while, the amount of work and energy that would need to go into a project like this filled me with anxiety, so I spent a year building and planning it in my head before I started to see what the community thought. I had a strong feeling it would receive a lot of positive responses and an eagerness from the people that I knew would mount that anxiety.
At the end of 2022 I spoke to my childhood friend about it and I spoke to her about why hadn’t started it yet, she gave me a lot of confidence in seeing my completion of the project and said she would be happy to help me with the start-up and running of it.
Now I had to start the process of allotting my time and motivation into this new venture. I can sometimes find that meeting others who have the same drive and determination as myself when it comes to starting new projects or events, but Arri and I had been sisters for 22 years now – and counting, we knew one another inside and out and I knew out of everybody, I could always count on Arri. Our first task was to find a location, once we had our location and knew our space, we could begin to estimate our costs and profits and go from there on how to fill the space, dates and details.
I wanted a space that was either owned or managed by someone in the BIPOC community, our first and initially only stop was The Rose Hill pub. Contacting them I was virtually introduced to the manager; Kas. Through email we spoke about the space, how many stalls could fit, how they could be sourced, we spoke about the performances and what they would need. We’d made some great headway on getting to the next steps on planning, we’d even set a date in, but I didn’t realise how long it takes to apply for funding…
From the start, we needed money for the sound technician on the day that was in-house, we also needed money to pay the bar staff for the day, it’s not a daily open pub, it’s more of an event space pub, so we had to take that into consideration.
I don’t know if anyone reading this has tried to apply for Arts Council funding, but it is one lengthy process that has to be very particular and extremely thorough. As time rolled on and we tackled page after page, I met Joe.
Joe is one of the managers of local pub and old theatre; The Actors Pub (previously known as The Marlborough Theatre). When I had first met him though, I didn’t know that, it wasn’t until I utilised the Black Brighton WhatsApp group chat I started in August of 2020, and put some feelers out for another venue, just to see if I would get a big bite, funnily enough, I did! I was informed of Joe’s position and so I chased it up. We set up a Zoom chat and I went through the same discussion and questions I piled onto Kas. We didn’t put a date in the diary yet, but after the conversation we had, I had made up my mind that we would be changing location. it was a simple decision, my costs were exponentially cut; I didn’t need to pay staff as they were a regular open pub, and I didn’t need to pay for the sound technician because Joe could do it.
It was time to get back to the funding application… Arri and I were tearing our hair out, we were reading the PDFs supplied by the Arts Council on how to fill your application, we were writing and re-writing, revising our budget, but things just weren’t adding up. I had spoken to another local artist who had funded many large-scale projects with Arts Council, I had recently worked with Jenni – Urbanflo – on documenting her exhibition at the Phoenix, so I got on the phone. I had also spoken to another woman who had headhunted me for the Altered exhibition she curated for Artist Open House, Clair worked with Brighton PhotoFringe, whom also get a lot of funding from the Arts Council in the past, I was reaching out to as many and as little who knew how to maybe fill this applications.
You have to remember, this was through the years of lockdown, so having just a few people who were sick or looking after someone who was sick, made the timeline stretch. So much of life was a whirlwind throughout those years, so it was no small fete in planning this huge project.
Around the start of this year, things started to come off the ground, we had worked out a budget that I could personally afford, and Jenni was putting all her efforts in perfecting the application. I had built the page on my website, had created a graphic and colour scheme, set up an email (email@example.com), set up a Facebook page. I built the application forms for stallholders and performers, I set up a GoFundMe, I started creating artwork for leaflets and posters and had set up a soft launch at the annual BARCO Bash for July 2022.
I had been contacted by BARCO a few months prior to the event asking if I would like to perform again this year and if I would like to have a stall. I was so engulfed in applying for funding, I didn’t even think of putting the two together until Annie aka AFLO the poet, a founder of BARCO, called me up and asked me if I would like to manage the market on the day and if it might be a good idea to collaborate on a soft launch to introduce BBM to the public. I jumped at it, I get so excited when people come up with savvy ideas. Together we sourced the last few stallholders, and Bud, another founder of BARCO, offered to sponsor BBM with getting me a banner for the day and to use and future events, I was thrilled!
In this time, I had been reaching out to local design and marketing companies asking for sponsorship, I had a GoFundMe going, and we were still doing the application for funding, but I had to get some money for advertisement way before market day. other Genie Design and Print Solutions and SWAT Marketing both offered me discounts and deals on flyer printing and poster distribution. My next most important thing to do was make sure I had flyers for the BARCO Bash, it was a necessity. A few hours on photoshop and double-checks on spelling and information with Arri, I ordered 1,000 A6 double sided 300GSM flyers on recycled paper. Arri picked them up and I had them packed in my bag ready to take them to soft launch and advertise the shit out of it.
The BARCO Bash was a complete success!! I did my performance, I met other stallholders and got acquainted with their work and style, I made money, I bought some art, I ate some good food, and I spread the good word. Everything was looking promising, for the first market in October. It was time to hit a bump in the road.
One of my marketing strategies for BBM, was to see if I could some how collaborate with Black Pound Day, I hade sent them emails, DMs, tags. It took a little while, but they contacted the Black Brighton IG to get into contact with me, they passed along my details and I was messaged asking if we could chat on the phone. The next day I got a call through, I was first stunned to hear that I was talking to Swiss himself. He began the conversation with the introduction of himself, I proceeded to return the favour which led to be explaining to him the idea and construction of BBM. He then responded by telling me that, due to it being for the BIPOC community, I had to completely disassociate with BPD, he asked me to write a statement, this was what he okayed:
“I am writing this statement, to inform everyone who has been told about my upcoming event Black Brighton Market, and would like to state that it is not associated with Black Pound Day as I had initially advertised. Having spoken to the creator of BPD, Swiss, I was informed and educated, that Black Pound Day was created for Black people only, namely those that self identify as Black, not for people of colour. From one creator to another, I understood the delicacy and importance of what Black Pound Day stands for. I respect what Swiss is doing for the community and he I. Unfortunately we live in a very small community in Brighton so I wanted to open it to all who are not white, as there are not that many in this city. So I would like to state, that Black Brighton Market has nothing to do with Black Pound Day and is not in any collaboration with them. It is still open for Mixed and people of colour. Thank you for taking the time in reading this, and I look forward to seeing you all at the first market which will still be held on the 1st of October. “
The conversation as a whole ended on a civil note, I was shocked to say the least and have many opinions about it, but the reason I wanted to write about it – because I could have negated the whole situation from the story – was because I wanted to show that sometimes, even the most unexpected things could happen, and it could throw you, demotivate you, cause you to question yourself and what you’re doing, but don’t! Maybe consider it an opportunity to re-think things going forward, but don’t let it hinder your dreams and ultimate goals be they big or small.
It’s now September, the stall-holder applications are coming in slow and steady, still a little light on performance applications, so that’s on the list to push… I had originally put a deadline on the application for the 20th of August because part of the form was an artist Bio, and I knew that would be great research to use for the fund application, which is time sensitive. The funding application should be being tightened up and finessed as we
speak read, Joe is currently measuring up the space again so I can work out how many and what stallholders I can have each market; which also depends on how much space they need – which I know through collecting that information on the form. I have used the £30.00 raised so far on the GoFundMe (£28.11 after their cut is taken) to pay SWAT for plastering posters around the city over this month. My next task is to block out the Black Pound Day logo on the nine thousand-and-something leaflets I have to then distribute in spaces around the Brighton and Hove with Arri.
I am wanting to do a table with artists’ music and merchandise so if you want to sell please contact me. If you want to know more about Black Brighton Market please head over to the page, keep up to date by joining my mailing list – stallholders and performers to be announced soon. And please, please donate if you can on the BBM GoFundMe, better yet, buy a ticket (with a free raffle entry) and I’ll see you there!