Why are Open Houses on in May?

Delving about in my ephemera, for my last post about the Two Fringes, I came across a couple of brochures of alternative Open House events. Around the time of the split from the Festival and then the Fringe, some AOHers, notably from the Fiveways trail, proposed moving the Open Houses Festival away from the 'umbrella' of the May Festival to other parts of the year.

This was trialed by a Council-backed (City of Culture/Where Else Campaign) initiative called Manifest, which took place in October 2002, for three weekends. Various talks/workshops/exhibitions/open houses took place, from Portslade to Rottingdean. But it never happened again.

Then, of course, came the Christmas Open Houses, still going strong. In its first year, 2003, there were just 16 venues; last year there were 65. The brochures are designed by AOH's Chris Lord, with woodcut illustrations on the cover by Judy Stevens, always on the theme of The Twelve days of Christmas. We look forward to its 13th year to see how she will illustrate that one!

In 2006, 11 Open Houses had a July opening for two weekends, as part of the Celebrating Age festival, featuring more mature artists, i.e. those over 50! The participating venues (I was in Jackie Jones' house at 51 Upper Lewes Road) were not impressed by the level of publicity it got, attendances were poor and it was never repeated. The consensus is that May is best!

Incidentally, almost all these events had websites, now gone to the great digital graveyard in the sky...

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