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How 'Open' is Open / 22 January 2012


It doesn't have to be like this

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Before I get to the crux of what I have to say I want to make it perfectly clear that I think Shape Arts do some amazing work in the areas of Disability and Equality. However I was a little dismayed to read a call for submissions with a £10 fee.

As a fulltime self-employed artist I have witnessed an increase in Pay to Display opportunities.  In a similar way the number of unpaid/or very poorly paid internships has increased and thankfully we are moving to limit and legislate these.

In which other areas would you pay to do what you do – as it is we have seen opportunities decrease and fees shrinking in tandem for freelance artists.

Bodies funded and sponsored then requiring submission fees wether selected to exhibit or not– what does this cover? Is that not already covered by Arts Council England or other partnerships and sponsorships? If not then why not, why should the artist bare the cost?  Shape does fantastic work but what I am surprised at is that, and if I may use a Twitter hash tag – The Hardest Hit – are being asked to pay again. All I am asking is if you are going to the lengths of having an art exhibition then please – put the artist first.

Then again artists are responsible for the cost of getting their work to and from the collection points – again expenses to be met by the artist  – and then have the luxury of a 40% commission on sales. Are we not trying to be professional artists and support them – surely some of that support must be in curating and showing work  that can be supported practically and financially or we merely contribute to maintaining the status quo.  Pallant House and their Outside In Biennial of Outsider Art is a shining example of putting the artist first. I wonder why this model cannot be replicated elsewhere – or in this case particularly.

I wonder about the motivation in general for submission fees, what does that say about where we place artists in the art world and society as a whole?

This is the beginning of a dialogue for me. I have not mentioned things such as wanting to show my work in context, being proactive about who I show with and where, how does showing in a particular exhibition develop not just my career but my practice?

I would be interested to hear your views on ‘Pay to Display’   

Keywords: exhibition,Exhibition Fee, Pay to Display, Curation, Practice