Want My Job? Jo Hedges, Brighton Fringe Event Manager

Brighton Fringe's Event Manager talks to Voice about the her job, her successes, and offers advice to young people

Want My Job? Jo Hedges, Brighton Fringe Event Manager

What is your current job title? What does your job involve?

I'm Brighton Fringe's Event Manager. I manage the events team who produce all Brighton Fringe's in-house events including launches, award ceremonies, press and promotional events. We also produce and programme 10 Fringe City outdoor showcase events, which take place in the heart of Brighton's North Laine every weekend in May, seen by around 100,000 people. Each event has up to three stages, which showcase over 45 Brighton Fringe performances each day, entirely for free. Performances range from outdoor circus, acrobatics and puppetry through to live music, dance and cabaret. There are also food stalls, pop up bars and all sorts of weird and wonderful walkabout performances. The atmosphere never fails to amaze me, it's where a lot of people come to kick off their Fringe experience.

I am responsible for event design and development, proposals, management of events budgets, liaison with sponsors and funders, planning, programming and production management of all of Brighton Fringe events, Health and Safety management, management of events staff, volunteers and contractors, site management for installations and de-rigs and live event management.

What's great about your job?

The best part of my job is working with all the Brighton Fringe shows to help them produce large outdoor event spectacles and promote their work to the public.

What are the bits you don't like or find challenging?

It can be challenging in the middle of Brighton Fringe in May for all the staff as we are constantly busy, the phones never stop ringing, and we often have to be in many places at once. But I think we all also thrive on this, the city is buzzing with shows, and when we are not working we're off to all the different venues to watch performances, so it's worthwhile in the end!

What are the highlights of your career to date?

My favourite moments at Fringe City have included installing an outside circus aerial rig so Circo Pitanga could perform amazing aerial acrobatics above the street. It was also amazing when The Biggest Marionette Circus in the World paraded the streets to join us at Fringe City with a flash mob style performance of giant animal puppets, each over 10 metres tall.

How did you get into an arts job? Have you also worked outside the arts?

I studied in the arts, and I volunteered and took part work experience placements when I was at University and after I qualified. When I'm not working at Brighton Fringe I also work on other festivals; I'm currently Festival Director for SouthWestFest in Westminster and Producer of Women Centre Stage theatre festival. I've always worked on creative projects as my hobby as well as my job. Early in my career I worked in fundraising events for a non-arts organisation, it was a really useful experience as I gained training, qualifications and real life experience around the planning and logistics side of events, which I still use and apply in my work in producing events in the arts.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was deciding to become a freelancer a few years ago, it was scary to leap out of full time employment and build up clients and contacts of my own, however it offered up amazing new opportunities. I took on my freelance contract role as Events Manager at the Brighton Fringe and as this is part time for some of the year, I have also been able to work on other creative projects from producing theatre and arts festivals through to building giant art installations.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

My advice would be to find festivals and projects which inspire you, get in touch with them and find out how to volunteer or get a work placement with them. Try to volunteer in different roles or projects so you gain new skills and experience and so that you can find out which roles would most suit you for a future job.

Want to know what it takes to be an Events Manager? Find out more on Creative Choices, a website dedicated to careers advice for working in the arts.


Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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