Brighton’s Open House phenomenon began in 1982, when Fiveways artist, Ned Hoskins, opened his front door to the public, inviting visitors into his home to view his own work and that of a group of friends. Other artists in the area followed suit to form the Fiveways Artists Group.
The idea proved very popular with the visiting public and soon other trails sprang up around the city – and the Open Houses were born. Initially appearing as a brief listings section within the early Brighton Festival brochures, Open Houses were subsequently moved to the Brighton Fringe. However, as the Fringe brochure then had neither images nor maps for Open Houses and the listings were buried within its many performance pages, trails were ultimately reliant on producing individual trail leaflets to promote their own trail. It was necessary for visitors to the Open Houses to collect the 13 different trail leaflets from around the city in order to cover all the disparate trails.
Hence Artists Open Houses (AOH) was set up in 2004 by a small group of Open House artists, acting on the necessity of producing a brochure uniting all the individual trails. The initial idea was simple, but soon expanded to include a website, pr, marketing, distribution and had grown into coordinating a full-blown festival in its own right.
The clear, single brand identity for all the Open Houses has made it simpler for visitors to have a strong image of who we are and how to find AOH venues, resulting in the festival greatly expanding over time accordingly in both size and reputation.
Although the Artists Open Houses festival now stands as an important festival in its own right, it remains true to its roots, consulting extensively with all participating artists on the ways and directions in which it moves forward.
The Artists Open Houses has an ethos of inclusivity, welcoming all local practicing artists of whatever age and at whatever stage of their career.