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Alessandra Kelley 30-08-09 02:43 PM

Would you pay for a show?
I've been shipping around a proposal for a show, mostly to university galleries because I've had good experiences with them. But I'm also interested in a well-regarded, respectable gallery I have a history with in group shows. They're nice people, and I like them, and they're interested in my work. But I wasn't sure what to think when I found out they charged for solo shows.

It's not a huge fee, about the equivalent of two weeks semi-organic groceries for our family of four. And they're totally upfront about it on their website. But I feel conflicted.


RobM 02-09-09 04:34 PM

Just ask yourself the questions......
Who is responsible for any promotional material, drinks on the opening night, insurance, mailings, hanging etc.
Do the gallery have a mailing list that will bring in buyers.
What is the current situation in the US with the recession
Do you and your family want to go hungry for 2 weeks??...:smile: ....(I can of course send you some fully organic veggies that we have grown!!)
It is always a gamble..........

dbclemons 03-09-09 12:43 PM

It's not an uncommon practice. The artist is renting wall space, more or less, in the gallery. Typically the place would cover all other expenses including promotions, but still take a percentage of any sales. I expect that the arrangements vary by gallery. If you feel you can budget it safely and their place can give you good exposure, then it's just another business expense. While most galleries offer solo shows at no costs to members, it takes some time for that to be scheduled in, possibly years if you're new.

mona 14-09-09 04:33 AM

Would you pay for a show?
I wonder, David, if you know something I don't know, but my impression was that if it's 'rent the walls' basis, it's more normal for a co-op gallery than for a regular one, isn't it? I wasn't aware either of it being common practice at regular galleries if they don't represent you.

Rob makes the point that there are also routine expenses for all shows, so if you haven't already, you could ask them what they do with the money---what does it cover for you besides gaining the venue? Will they promote it well for example? His other point about drawing audience is also important. If it is a co-op, some co-op galleries, unless it's a special group show, just won't get the audience that you need to draw sales.


RobM 14-09-09 04:20 PM

Mona inspired me to write more.........
Wow, its such a mine field. I can only talk about the galleries in the UK but I guess similar practice exists over there. We have galleries that rent wall space and those that represent (and I'm lucky to be represented with no sales or pricing to do.). The galleries which rent wall space take an overall one off fee but there is then the added expense of publicity and the opening. OK, the gallery may well say that they will advertise but as we found out it was only in their own publication. I am refering to mainly the inguaral exhibition of the Society of Tempera Painters in the UK at Lord Leighton's house. This cost us 1500 for the wall space, we then had the publicity 'machine' which cost us another 500. Add to that the opening.......drinks and staff (at overtime!!) took our outlay to 3000. We could see no other way of cutting any costs. Three of us put our hands in our pockets and raised the 3000 and the show went ahead. OK, I sold 2 pieces but overall sales were extremely poor but my added bonus was that I was approached by a number of London galleries and exhibited and sold with them and my prices rose considerably. Eventually far more than the 1000 I originally payed out was recouped but over a number of years.
So, you can well gamble an amount of capital outlay but with the right people at the opening/exhibition things could well lead to greater things and the money recouped.
It is all a gamble. If you do go ahead then search the internet/local directories for all the galleries in your area and further afield and send them an them a snazzy e-mail invite with may not recoup your money through the initial show but what potential may arise?......As I say, all a gamble and good luck if you go for it.

mona 28-09-09 06:17 PM

Would you pay for a show?
A very interesting story Rob, thanks for sharing it! Mona

Alessandra Kelley 18-06-10 03:16 PM

I blush to realize I haven't responded to your helpful words. Thank you all for your advice. The place I'm looking at is clearly not a vanity gallery, but it's still a decision one has to think over carefully.

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