The publication on a-n news of Jack Hutchinson’s feature, Open exhibitions and entry fees: price worth paying or licence to exploit artists? has prompted a flood of comments on social media, with @an_artnews followers being particularly active.
Many of those commenting have shared their own experiences of entering open exhibitions, including their feelings of paying for ‘opportunities’ that fail to transpire.
Helen Dearnley (@Blackbird1976) tweeted: “No longer prepared to subsidise other’s careers in such an unfair lottery”. Susan Francis (@susanefrancis) said: “Generally avoid opens with 3-4000 entries for 50 spaces. Those are crazy figures – too much like lottery for me.”
Others have been pointing out that the costs to artists go much deeper than paying an entry fee. Jonathan O’Dea (@JonathanODea) tweeted: “It’s not just the fee, it’s also the cost of producing the work: time, overheads and delivery.”
Lindsey Lavendar (@Lindsey_Art) made a similar point: “Just paid £50 to enter 2 works in open call. IF selected will have to pay framing/courier/hanging fee. THEN might sell… #longshot.”
Janet Curley Cannon (@JCurleyCannon) tweeted: “It all adds up, so think carefully if we (artists) are paying a high price for nothing but a listing on the CV!” Mandy Lock (@MandyLockArt) wrote: “So glad that bogus artists’ opportunities are being questioned; unregulated orgs that play on people’s insecurities for cash.”
Others raised issues around the lack of any dialogue when artists enter opens. Alison Berry (@AlisonJaneBerr1) said: “Helpful if received feedback on why unsuccessful for opens. Can feel like throwing money into a big black hole.”
The article has also prompted some more detailed comments on the a-n news site itself. As part of a longer post, artist Carolyn Black writes: “Professional development, personal growth and critical support is essential for all levels of artist. If it’s a commercial deal, great, sell work, take commission.
“But charging a high fee up front and not providing any prizes or fees is not right, it just isn’t. How about sale or return? It works in shops, which is what galleries are. And good galleries pay artists hanging fees. Like in the good old days.”
Ieva Alksne comments: “My personal opinion as an artist and an arts organiser is that if you run a self-funded arts gallery you have to charge a justified hanging fee which will cover staff time, marketing expenses and room hire (heating, cleaning etc)…
“Even for self-funded arts organisations it is difficult to justify fee for just application, usually £20-£35 for someone to look at your email (about 1-2min) and selected jury to look at your work (another 1-2min)… so we [are] paying £300-500 per hour for someone to read our email! Personally speaking, I am reconsidering my exhibition application calendar for 2015.”
Read the article in full: Open exhibitions and entry fees: price worth paying or licence to exploit artists? – Jack Hutchinson investigates