Bridport Open Studios

Photo: © Pete Millson 2018.

First held in 1999, Bridport Open Studios has grown to become a much anticipated event in the wider local community. Local artist Kit Glaisyer is looking for a new team to take it forward.

In recent years, Bridport has become renowned for its vibrant arts scene, and the annual Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios event has played a significant role, offering the public an opportunity to explore our artists’ studios, discover local galleries and sometimes even visit the artists’ homes.
Artist Caroline Ireland started the event over the three days of the August Bank Holiday Weekend in 1999, and since then it’s then been led by several different Directors, including Louise Wender, Cece Mills, Jaki Rabbetts, Philomena Harmsworth, and Kit Glaisyer. By 2019 it had grown to a nine-day event with over 100 local artists in 50 venues across Bridport & West Dorset.
However, with the onset of the pandemic the event could not take place and has been in abeyance ever since. Long-time Director, artist Kit Glaisyer has stepped down so he can concentrate on running his Bridport Contemporary Gallery, at 11 Downes Street, Bridport. He says, ‘a lot of artists have been asking me if the event will run this year, but I can’t take it on myself, except in an advisory capacity. It’s been a privilege to have been director for so many years, and I have a lot of experience and tips to pass on, but I would now like to hand it over to a new director with a new dedicated team.’
The new team will inherit an event that has evolved into a highly coordinated organisation with clearly defined roles, which will be of great benefit to the new director whether or not they are already experienced in organising or managing events.
Caroline Ireland adds, ‘I’ve always loved the way new directors have come forward and brought new ways of doing things to the event, ways that I would never have thought of myself. BOS has been a huge benefit to the local creative community, and it’s also played a key role in encouraging tourism and boosting the local economy. Now we need new people to take it forward with fresh ideas.’
For many years, the Event Guide was produced by Fergus Byrne, editorial director of the Marshwood Vale Magazine, and in recent years Kate Gowrie has further developed it into a 48-page magazine, including several helpful art trails, informative artist & venue details, and brilliant maps designed by Ian Escott. Photographers Pete Millson, Brandan Buesnel, and George Wright have provided stunning portraits of participating artists; Paul Blow has designed the Guide Covers; and Damon Allen acted as webmaster.
BOS has also established great relationships with local companies such as Creeds, who print the Guides; Bridport Banners who make the Arrows & Banners; and Footprints who help with various print jobs, including the event Posters.
In terms of budget, BOS has been entirely funded by the artists and advertisers, sometimes with the additional support of an event Sponsor and funding from the Town or County Council. Adding a dedicated Fund Raiser to the team would make an excellent addition, so do let us know if you think you might be able to help in some manner!
Crucially, BOS has been supported by many loyal advertisers over the years, mainly local businesses, as well as organisations across the West Country. It’s also been a huge bonus when we can find a generous event Sponsor, so again, do let us know if your organisation would like to get involved.
We’ve generally found that a 3-person team works best, with a Director, Event Coordinator, and an Administrator who can all commit to run the event over a six-month period from April to September. All three management roles are part-time and suitable for anyone interested or experienced in freelance work in arts admin. Timewise, typically the Director provides 120 hours, the Event Coordinator, 100 hours, and the Administrator, 80 hours. Previous coordinators in recent years include Tasha Lummes, Suzy Moger, Paul Newman, Megan Dunford, Nicole Burt, and Charlie Francis-Pape.
The BOS team also seems to benefit most from having a mix of skills, some creative, and others administrative. They will be required to liaise with the artists, manage their images & data to create content, as well as maintaining the website & social media. Someone on the team should also be good at social media and maintaining the website. Some writing skills are also recommended for preparing Press Releases, Guide Entries, Publicity, and the initial Event Proposals… which sets the ball rolling when they are sent out to potential artists & advertisers in March.

If you would like to support BOS as a Sponsor or Fund Raiser, get involved as a volunteer or as an assistant, or to discuss the Director’s role, then please contact Kit Glaisyer at or 07983 465789.