In light of the recent flurry of debate around open exhibitions, a-n asked artist Maša Kepic and curator Kate Phillimore for some advice on the topic. The result? A duo of practical guides offering an artist’s perspective on assessing and applying for opens, and a curator’s perspective on setting one up.

From terms and conditions to selectors, websites and budgeting, Kepic’s text offers a checklist of pointers when considering which competitions to apply for:

‘You can tell a lot from a website, including whether or not you wish yourself or your work to be aligned with the organisation, and whether the organisers are running the exhibition as a ‘cash cow’. You need to know that your work will be taken care of, and even though some of the busiest and most well-known open submissions will often leave frames dented or scratched, it still pays to do your research.’

Phillimore’s ‘sister-guide’ covers the practicalities of organising an open, from the call-out and selection phase, to promotion, insurance and fees:

‘If artists are giving you money to apply to your exhibition they need to know what it’s going toward. Don’t just say ‘administration fee’: that’s what estate agents say when they charge you £200 to do a rental credit check. Fair enough if the fee helps pay for your time organising the exhibition, for technicians or publication materials, but this should be made clear from the beginning. You don’t want artists thinking their money is going towards your new Nespresso machine.’

a-n subscribers can read Kepic’s guide in full here and Phillimore’s guide in full here. Use the #openexhibitions hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation.

More on

Open exhibitions index: a collection of articles around opens including news features, online debate, prize-winners’ profiles, subscribers’ letters and more.

Jobs and opps: Competitions – comprehensive listings of juried open exhibitions and prizes.

Prizes and Awards – overview and profiles of annual open competitions and the artists that win them.