As the Brighton Fringe Festival and the Brighton Festival - together vying for the biggest arts event in the UK with Edinburgh - draw to an end, retrospectively flicking through their programmes there's one question that I can't get away from. What is Fringe? And what is the supposed mainstream? Aren't they both about an artist trying to reach an audience?
Is it purely about perception - the size and quality of the venue and the comfort of the seats - if indeed there are any. Is it the cost of the ticket? £20 and you're on to a winner - both as performer and audience - anything less and the audience is seen as taking a risk, while the performer perceived as a struggling, benefits supported artist, holed up in some ill-heated garret.
Put a mainstream act in a 'fringe' venue and it is seen as 'ironic'. Turn it around and it's 'progress', a step forward and up. But to what?
Is it better to perform before one enlightened soul who could go on and change the world as a result of what he's seen, or a packed theatre seeking an alternative to a night in with the telly?
Why do we need these boundaries, this artisic segregation, with some performers apparently revelling in the fact they're seen as 'Fringe' as if poor performance production values and a real lack of application gives them some extra creditability, some street cred - as if it's wrong to want to get your work seen by as many people as possible. While others look down snobbily from the supposed high of the mainstream
on to the poor wretches in the Fringe.
The extra bodies employed to run each festival creates more jobs that self-perpetuate the divide. To whose advantage?
Some things do cost more to stage. But it doesn't mean they are more exhilerating than a sharp-tongued poet with a notebook, or a street artist, breaking down the barriers by passing on his spray paint can to an awestruck youngster itching to get his hands dirty, as will happen at the Urban Artfest in and around Brighton's Circus Street on May 31.
Here, street artists such as RYCA, Pure Evil, Zeus, Copyright, Aroe and Carne Griffiths will be educating and entertaining.
It's a rare thing to see a street artist at work; they are better known painting in the shadows and producing anonymous creations in the dead of night.
This event will, therefore, be a rare opportunity to observe urban art masters at work.
Urban ArtFest supported by artrepublic and Ink_d galleries Brighton takes place from 1pm on Saturday May 31 at Circus Street, Brighton, BN2 9QF www.artrepublic.com
Picture Credits: Pure Evil, Copyright, artrepublic