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2023 Summary

Photo|Frome 2023 was a major success

The festival had over 13,000 visits across all of our venues, more than double last year’s inaugural result of 6,000. Exhibitions broke daily and total attendance records at the major venues such as Rook Lane Chapel and Black Swan Arts, and this year’s innovations such as Coffee @ Photo|Frome brought new visitors into local cafes and shops.

It has been particularly good to see so many visitors from outside of the Frome area, which accounts for many of the additional visitors this year. Social media isn’t everything, though it is worth noting that Photo|Frome now has a larger Instagram audience in London than in Somerset, which explains why so many of our venues noted out-of-town visitors.

There was excellent photography shown in 2022, though we believe that in 2023 we went several steps further in quality, breadth, and content. This year’s festival succeeded in its aim to offer an image-driven conversation about important social and environmental issues.

We were very pleased to hear first-hand from both local people and the wider photography community their positive reception to the festival’s ‘Decolonising Environments’ theme.

Photo|Frome staged exhibitions in 15 venues, including outdoors for the first time, compared with 7 in 2022. It was gratifying to hear so much positive feedback from photographers and visitors alike on how the various shows were professionally produced and exhibited. The outdoor exhibitions attracted widespread interest and generated enthusiastic engagement from an entirely new audience, including many who wouldn’t normally interact with photography.

Over 170 nationally recognised and international photographers, as well as students and local photographers showed more than 500 photographs across the town. With photographs and book entries from all over the world, the response to what Photo|Frome is offering has been humbling. We are especially pleased, as part of our community objectives, to have showcased the talents of local and student photographers in 4 group exhibitions.

The 2023 programme included an engaging 2-day symposium with 11 excellent speakers (we will share videos in due course), practical and fun workshops for the whole family, a new international Open Book Call (winners from Egypt, Mexico, Ireland, and the Netherlands). We were especially pleased to partner with the Sustainable Photobook Publishing network (SPP), founded by Tamsin Green, to trial sustainability initiatives as part of the awards process. You can find the case study here.

There was also new National Student Photography awards, which attracted entries from across the country, with prizes from MPB.com.

Our free pop-up portrait studio, Faces of Frome, in partnership with The Frome Independent market and managed by students of Boomsatsuma, Bristol and Frome College proved incredibly popular once again. Participants have all been sent their free digital portraits.

As an ‘indie’ festival, our concept takes inspiration from such long-standing festivals as Les Rencontres d’Arles, aiming to fill the community with curated photography and events whilst attracting the wider world of photography.

2022 was about demonstrating the team’s ability to stage a festival, and to get visitors interested. In 2023 we proved that Photo|Frome can do even more, and be an engaging, high-quality addition to the local Frome scene whilst also appealing to a truly national and international audience with new and meaningful photography.

We also delivered on our community commitments, both via the student-curated exhibitions, and reports of increased footfall in local businesses which were taking part in Photo|Frome.

The success of 2023 relied on a huge team effort, and we are truly grateful to our volunteers, photographers, sponsors, designers, local and national partners, and venues who all played their part in making this all work so well. We are extremely grateful for all their hard work in making this year such a success. Thank you everyone, so very much.

We particularly want to acknowledge the support of public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England; MPB.com, the largest global platform to buy, sell and trade used photo and video kit; Fujifilm and Digitalab for printing support; Frome Town Council, Frome Wessex Photographic and St Cuthbert’s Mill, as well as several private donors.

Stepping back, 2023 was a very positive foundation for our ambitions for Photo|Frome in the coming years.

Watch this space!