Redeye The Photography Network, Manchester

Malcolm and I made a trip to Manchester to meet with Paul Herrman the Director of Redeye The Photography Network. We had a great discussion on organisational issues and how and in what ways photography advocacy organisations like both of ours can raise more cash from our endeavors. Paul discussed some of the challenges faced by small arts organisations and how the wide- spread economic situation has created a new set of pressures. One noticeable characteristic of Redeye is its enterprising approach, and how they have a plan in place to reduce dependency on ACE funding to 40% of overall income in the next 10 years. This is an ambition many small organisations will find difficult to achieve, but a productive strategy towards increased self-sufficiency.

Based in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, Redeye has an office space within the Chinese Arts Centre. It is made up of 4 staff: Paul Herrman (Director), Alex Hodby (Administrator), Petra van den Houten (Business Development) and Mark Devereux (Events Co-ordinator); a Board of Directors who meet quarterly and an Advisory Group who meet annually to advise on programme direction.  According to Redeye’s website, its purpose is to support photographers at every level, and improve the health of photography generally. It aims to form a clear picture of the ways photographers and photographic artists are working now, and give them access to events, opportunities, advice and information that are relevant to their work and difficult to find elsewhere. Alongside this it works to bring photographic and other organisations together, to encourage ethical and best practice, and to build a voice for photography.

Currently, you can either be a Subscriber or Member of Redeye. To be a Subscriber is free and means you will receive monthly e-newsletters and can submit events, exhibitions and opportunities to the Redeye website, as well as contribute to forums. As a Member you get all of the above plus discounts on all Redeye activities, priority booking at Redeye events, up to 25% off equipment rental, studio hire and other services, invitation to members–only events, exclusive information and invitations for commissions and bursaries and an online profile page to showcase your work. A Membership costs £50/ year or £30 for students. Currently Redeye has 40 to 50 members: as their membership scheme is fairly new they anticipate this growing.

Redeye delivers masterclasses, talks, workshops, portfolio critiques, seminars and an annual symposium: most of which are charged to the audiences, helping Redeye cover the costs of such events. Redeye also receives income from Arts Council England, sponsorship, membership fees, consultancy and general fundraising. Recently, they have made forays into team- building photography days with commercial businesses. The Director Paul Herrman believes there is mileage in these types of activities for generating more income for Redeye. Crucially, as Redeye only has a small office space the organisation relies on strong partnerships to deliver its events, working with galleries, universities and other photographic arts organisations.

Redeye recently built a new website http://redeye.org.uk which acts as an interactive platform for its Subscribers and Members. The News and Opportunities section lists UK wide news related to photography, while the Portfolios pages allow Members to upload their work, the Forum pages encourage discussion and the Opinion pages give ‘guest opinions’ a chance to explore a topic in more detail. As Redeye doesn’t have a physical venue the website is essential as the ‘shop front’ signposting users, and creating a virtual meeting place to gel the network together.

Lucy Keany

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