Brighton Fringe director threatened with violence over pier comments

Posted On 13 Apr 2016 at 3:58 pm

The director of Brighton Fringe Festival says he has received threats, including some of violence, after a piece in which he admits he hates the Brighton Pier in its current form was published yesterday.

Brighton Pier

Julian Caddy said he had not realised he was sending his thoughts on the pier to the Argus, having mistaken the reporter’s name for someone else, and deeply regrets the offence caused.

In the original piece, Mr Caddy said the pier was a blot on the seafront which brings Brighton down, and compared its “tacky sideshows” unfavourably with the inland city’s creative industries, modern restaurants and a dynamic population

But posting on the People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove this afternoon, he says the aftermath has been the worst 24 hours of his life, and that he doesn’t hate the pier, but thinks it is “an iconic, vital part of what makes Brighton what it is.”

Mr Caddy said: “I deeply regret the offence caused. It would never and has never been the intention to cause offence. Brighton and Hove is a city that I love and have been brought up around.

My grandfather went to school here, as indeed did I for a time and I have given five years of my life to building up Brighton Fringe to being the festival that it is today.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing though. As is rereading emails before sending them at 11.30pm on a Friday night, mistaking at the time just *which* Adrian you are sending it to who had asked for some comments on improving the pier, getting carried away but not checking properly or thinking it through, and then realising it was in fact to an Argus journalist and finding out early on Tuesday morning that not only has this gone into the Argus as an actual ‘piece’, it has gone on the front page and a double page spread with opinion pieces attached.

“I can’t actually even blame the Argus. I walked right into it and they, as journalists saw a story and ran with it. I wish I had had the chance to see it before it went out or even have prior warning of the prominence, but I guess that is their prerogative.

“The aftermath has been perhaps the worst 24 hours of my life and, on reading the pieces and opinion, it’s easy to see why. “What was I thinking?” Well I wish I knew.

“Also for the record the reference to Primark, Sports Direct and coaches was entirely directed at the thousands of teenage foreign students that pass my window between their visit to the Pavilion, those shops, on their way to the pier and back to their coaches, not as some snobbish reference, more to direct attention to the day-tripper market being dominant, rather than somewhere that more local residents might wish to go to on a regular basis.

“I also wish I hadn’t said the M word for a restaurant- just somewhere nice to eat on the pier would be amazing. I’ve never even ever been to a Michelin star restaurant. Basically more diverse attractions to get even more people than currently go.

“I really, truly, don’t hate the pier- it is an iconic, vital part of what makes Brighton what it is and I have worked my arse off for the past five years here. I’m completely invested in this place and care passionately about its past, present and future.

“Yes, I happen to live in London, but that should not exclude me from having a view. I have been dealing with the inevitable feedback, some threatening actual physical violence, all day and night yesterday, some with the frankly disturbing “f*** off back to London”.

“I’ve learned my lesson for sure and apologise profoundly for the offence caused. What is more, running a festival like Brighton Fringe, the very last thing that I would ever wish to do is create divisions and that is exactly what has happened, and how. Brighton Fringe as it’s open-access is, literally, all about inclusiveness and being as welcoming as possible and to go against that is absolutely unthinkable.

“I’ve been working at in fringe festivals for over 20 years now and believe me, it’s anything but Michelin star restaurants and poshness, so to come across like that (“a typical view from an elitist London a-hole” and similar) is dreadful.

“I don’t know what more I can do than say this- and to get it out to as many people as possible. Not everyone will want to hear it, and that is fine.

“What was written in the paper was appalling and I’d probably have the same view if I’d read them myself.

“This year we are launching the Fringe with fireworks and I seem to have started an uncontrollable fire before it has even begun and for that, I am deeply sorry.”

  1. Bonny Holland Reply

    It is very warming to read your apology and I’m sure you are sorry but for what exactly? It’s not clear now what you do think you say one thing apparently but mean something else and so trust is broken and the impression formed that you don’t know what you think at all. I’m sorry to say but I suspect that your awareness has been raised of your own egotism and arrogance and that’s a good thing if you do something to address this. We all have our faults avd make errors it’s what we do next that matters. I think you’ll probably need to resign to repair the damage done, it’s sad for you but I fear inevitable.

  2. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    What is being overlooked is that the Pier still lacks the Theatre that was dismantled for “restoration”. If it regained the Theatre, it would be much improved and appeal to more people. The dome at the end is pathetic, like a shed on a roundabout. As such, the Pier is worse than it was. The previous owners were liars. Will the new owners bring back the Theatre? That is the central question rather than the one about its name. For a town that likes to style itself as “theatrical”, it is lacking in theatres (the Komedia, for example, gave up on it). What a boon for the place if its Pier regained a Theatre.

    • Dan Wilson Reply

      Here’s hoping the new owner ushers in a new era. There’s certainly room for improvement on the pier and it would be a delight to see the theatre back. As was promised previously.

  3. Emma Reply

    The pier is hideous, so why is it such a shock he would say that?!!!! Have lived in Brighton 15 years and I have been twice with my kids and did not like it. The guy hasn’t said anything that bad or controversial!!

    • Pablo Reply

      apart from his excruciating snobbery and lack of any awareness

  4. Derek Reply

    Is the guy not entitled to an opinion?!

    Why is he castigated for this view, yet the fact is the other pier incites such diverse and extremely opposite views is actually seen as a part of what makes Brighton unique, the polarity of view.

    Bizarre behaviour.

    • Pablo Reply

      Of course, but he just proved himself unfit for the job by being too candid and showing his true, snidey colours.

  5. Lisa Reply

    I haves lived here all my life but the Pier is a bit rubbish actually. There is nothing authentic going on at the pier at all. Yes a good theatre and perhaps some way of acknowledging the diversity of cultures locally by offering good fresh fast food from around the world. Plus art and music focus.

  6. Ed Smith Reply

    It wasn’t his opinion on the pier specifically that was upsetting, it was his arrogance in asserting that Brighton would be better if “all these horrible poor people weren’t here and it was more like London where I live”. People have been moving to Brighton and trying to change it to fit their ideal of how it should be for decades and always for the worst, the opinions he expressed are deeply unpleasant.

    • Ian Reply

      for decades? changing the face of Brighton started with the Prince Regent!

    • johanna Reply

      Yes you are right Ed Smith. It is not just about the pier. It is about snobbery. I might say as well that Fringe is a pile of shite that I never find anything interesting to go to. I went to the pier recently and that was shite too. Maybe they are just too similar!

    • Annie Reply

      He didn’t actually say anything like that. That’s just your interpretation. The fringe is a brilliant thing and I think he is doing a great job in growing it and making it a success and it will continue to grow and bring all kinds of opportunity, entertainment and great things to Brighton. So this stuff is just trivia really and distracts from what can be created. It

  7. Jess Reply

    I’m sorry to say, but I’m so fed up of Brighton. I’ve lived here for 5 years now and I’m amazed daily by the fuss made about this place. The general feeling of laziness astounds me. Walking down st James Street is so depressing. The pier is tacky and the seafront neglected. The jobless, chavvy, smelly humans I encounter most days make me remember why I can’t wait to leave (and I assure you I am asap). No wonder this guy chooses to live in London. At least amongst the hustle and bustle the people are going somewhere. Not all stupid, tattooed hippies drinking flat whites and groaning about the tories. What a grubby, lazy, dole dossing and annoying place this is. Why anyone would want to invest in the overpriced properties here amazes me. How anyone would passionately defend this city is baffling.

    • Andrew Reply

      If you’re that fed up with it, Jess, there’s a train leaving soon. And another one soon after that if you miss it…

  8. Chloë Chapman Reply

    It wasn’t his comments about the pier, but his sneering comments about working class people that were most offensive. He has elitist views that belong in the capital. He wants Brighton to be London and it never will be. I think he firmly believes everything he said, he’s just trying to claw back respect so that he doesn’t lose his job. What Brighton needs is more affordable housing, social housing and more employment. The i360 is a classic example of serving business and not local people.

  9. James Reply

    I dont justify or condone physical violence but Julian only regrets that he sent the story to an argus journalist his opinion of our city remains the same. The poncy London boy should be sacked from the Fringe for his elitist views. Over the years I have been to many Fringe events over those same years I in my opinion believe the Fringe has become less inclusive. Bye bye Julian go destroy some other cities heritage.

    • Hayley Reply

      “Poncy Londoner” my, how grown up you are. Aren’t you stooping to the same level you chastise Julian for having. It’s a shame you can be an adult about things and actually see that Brighton isn’t perfect, just in the same way London isn’t – it’s not all Georgian townhouses and fancy art galleries here either. And yes, I’m afraid the pier is tacky. Open your eyes and be objective. He wasn’t attacking people! He brings more money in to Brighton during The Fringe than I dare say the pier does over an entire year.

  10. rolivan Reply

    “Worst 24 hours of my life” perhaps you need to travel the World and see how bad life can really be ,you obviously thought all of the things You wrote to ‘Adrian’ it doesn’t really matter who received it.

  11. Anthony Straker Reply

    he said what he thought until he was found out then backtracked as fast as possible. 2 faced sums it up, how can you trust anything he says if he can go from 1 extreme to another so quickly.

  12. Bob Gilchrist Reply

    The pier is a ghastly parody. And Julian Caddy is a very good guy. That is all.

  13. rolivan Reply

    Bob Gilchrist he may be a very good guy,however as the leader of an Organisation he needs to go back to the drawing board.

  14. rph Reply

    The Palace Pier has been tacky for at least the last half century I can remember going on it. The theatre hosting the likes of Dick Emery didn’t turn it into some bastion of high culture. Indeed Graham Greene’s choice of the Palace Pier as a key setting in Brighton Rock, wasn’t predicated on it’s sophistication. Part of what has made and continues to make Brighton is tackiness. So embrace it, celebrate it, indulge in it as a part of the city’s diversity. Oh…and give the cold shoulder to calls for hipster homogeneity.

    • Eric Amble Reply

      Absolutely right – the tackiness the point. It’s fun. Does Caddy really think university-educated arty types don’t love it too? I can assure you, we do. I visited it several times during the three years I lived in Brighton – there’s nothing beats walking over the sea while eating freshly fried donuts.

      • Pablo Reply

        And the best sunsets in town! 🙂

  15. Chip Eater Reply

    The headline should be ‘Brighton Fringe director claims “violent threats” over pier comments’, seeing as his word on its own does not equal proof.

  16. Deborah Reply

    Whatever your taste you still want to see a town that is well maintained and offers good quality entertainment. Is there anything wrong in having high standards for the town? There’s no point in making one person a scapegoat just because they said something out of turn. If you visit the pier it would be good to see it well looked after and offering things for everyone. Whether local, a tourist, young or old it would be good to see a variety of food on offer and maybe healthy alternatives for example. Maybe one of the buildings could offer something different such as bringing back a dance hall to the area, a theatre, something for everyone as well as what is there now. We’ve all seen the town go through different economic cycles over the years and if we want Brighton remain a top tourist attraction for the UK it is a good idea to listen to different opinions and make improvements.

    • rph Reply

      Firstly, the pier doesn’t have to offer something for everyone. That is the job of the city as a whole; and it’s one it does rather well.

      Secondly, Caddy has been ‘scapegoated’ (i.e. had a go at on the internet) for for expressing his elitist, anti-social desire to see Brighton somehow culturally cleansed of tackiness and by implication those who like it.

      Finally, if we can agree on difference being one of the things that makes Brighton what it is, then we are going to have to accept that we will like some differences more than others. Personally I’d rather have my food and drink served on a plate and in a mug or glass, than on a piece of driftwood and in a jam jar. That doesn’t mean I should or would call for the driftwood/jam jar crowd to sling their locally sourced artisan upcycled hook.

  17. maggie anderson Reply

    I remember going to the theatre that was on the beautiful West Pier in the 1960’s. It was for a drama workshop for us local schoolkids. It was stunning, magical and totally unexpected. I’d never been anywhere like it before. I didn’t know theatres existed and have never forgotten the experience. I would love for there to be a theatre on the pier that had access for the local community as we had back then.

  18. Dave Reply

    He’s right about the Marina. It’s a shithole

  19. Deborah Reply

    Why is everyone defending ripping off families by selling them unhealthy food and encouraging them to gamble on slot machines? Not to mention the exploitation of workers in the third world by the couple of low rent retailers that have been mentioned. It would be so good to improve the pier. Keep some slot machines and chip stalls of course but also wouldn’t it be amazing to have a theatre and/or dance hall on the pier? Brighton could host strictly come dancing, the proms, top musicals, concerts, productions for all ages. What about having a place where school kids can visit and hear about the history of Brighton, create an educational centre, do drama and arts workshops, teach music, make films. Maybe open an independent cinema? We can still offer the usual touristy things but people want to have a really good time on holiday and so what is wrong with improving the pier? Can we all have an open and honest debate about this?

    • Pablo Reply

      It would go bust in days. Tidy it up a bit, maybe improve the food and drink options, and that’s exactly what a pier should be for me! And we really don’t need any more cinemas, and if we want a decent theatre, let’s go all out and support the Hippodrome! Dunno if you’ve noticed but families are on holiday, they might like unhealthy food, they might want to gamble. Who are you to judge? And I very much doubt he had worker exploitation in mind when he referred to Primark. Pure and simple snobbery, and his apology was excruciating.

  20. Deborah Reply

    I agree that you shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water and should keep the touristy chips and penny slot machines on the pier. If there is space for innovation then presumably the new owner will look into it and will hopefully run a survey to find out what people really want to see on the pier. Maybe a combination of old and new? Something a bit more Pizza Express-like seems likely to be on the cards. Just thinking about gaming, maybe there could be a 3D virtual reality area? Brighton could be a world-leader and push the boundaries and not be held back. Online comments suggest that the majority of people like the pier so no need to focus on old-fashioned divisions related to snobbery or inverted snobbery but more about what holiday makers want to see in Brighton. Best to do a survey and find out not just what people want to call the pier but also what they would like to see when they get there. Although if there is a vote, the new name might end up being something like Piery McPierface so not sure it’s wise to listen to everything people say on the internet!

  21. Naomi Stanley Reply

    For some of the above people who may not have read the offensive article, this title is misleading because it was not his dislike of the pier which caused so much rage. It is his appalling attitude and expressed arrogance and bigotry about working class people. And there is nothing he can say which could redeem him in my opinion because he has screwed himself utterly. You cannot say stuff like that and then think you can reverse it by claiming you thought you’d sent it to someone else and saying you’ve suffered stress because of the inevitable response. I think someone who expresses the kind of divisive pompous views that he has should be sacked from the post he holds and quite rightly made to “eff off” back to London.

  22. Simmy Reply

    Seriously? Brighton is our town…The pier is the Palace Pier…let’s not argue, it’s summer soon – enjoy our birthplace x

  23. Andrew Birch Reply

    Julian should stick to the courage of his convictions. The pier and much of the seafront is appallingly tacky, and an affront to people like us. Honestly, I have to put a clothes peg on my nose when I venture out of North Laine, the day trippers are so smelly. And don’t get me started on those horrible fast food restaurants! Brighton should be grateful to people like Julian – and me, of course.

  24. Oscar Reply

    I hate The Palace Pier. It is crude, tacky and generally full of morons. It is a stain on Brighton’s openminded and bohemian culture.

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