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exhibiting charges in galleries (was: anybody heard this one??)

updated tue 22 jan 02


Janet Kaiser on mon 21 jan 02

Yes, I am afraid I have, Sandy. A gallery not a million miles away from us,
rents out space to anyone who will pay AND charges 33.3% commission on
sales. (But at least they do not hoist the usual 3% + bank transfer costs
of credit card charges onto the artist too... That really is a bit much!)

They also expect you to host and/or share the cost of the preview/vernisage
with the other exhibiting artists & makers. The result is that a lot of
hobby and amateur artists/makers pay to exhibit their work and feel that
they have now arrived and are "real artists". The only advantage of this,
it that they bring in all their family and friends along, thus adding to
the clientele... It does nothing for the niveau of the gallery, nor does it
enhance the reputation of the professional artists/makers who exhibit.

There is apparently no selection of what is displayed, when, where, next to
whose work... Some professional artists I have spoken to are not pleased
about this aspect, more than they object to the actual "business deal",
which is becoming more common here in the UK. The reason for this trend
being "risk sharing"... Galleries which are not funded, cannot afford to
exhibit work which probably will not sell because it is too challenging, so
at least a "hanging fee" or "exhibition fee" helps defray costs and does
not limit work on exhibition to ultra conservative work. Understandable in
many respects. The gallery is more of less saying, "Put your money where
your mouth is". They are not going to risk having work which is not going
to earn its keep, so charging a space rental is one way around that.

Some top galleries in London (and elsewhere) work on a weekly
"room-to-hire" plus commission basis, which means high investment and risk
for the artist. They deliver their work to the venue, pay all the gallery
costs PLUS their own expenses for a week (in London = big bucks, unless you
accommodating friends/family) so expenditure of 2,000-3,000 minimum is
guaranteed. You have to be really confident that your work is going to sell
and/or be prepared to bare a financial loss.

I also heard one London gallery charges 50 per day, per item storage fee
for work which was not collected at 5 p.m. on the last day of the
exhibition! One way of making sure unsold items are collected! I must say
that there is method in that particular madness... (We have several shelves
full of
uncollected work).

Yes, there are a lot of rogues around and they sometimes have you over the
barrel of a gun. Just beware and do not be pressurised into any agreement
you are not happy with or which could ruin you if anything goes wrong.

"There are plenty more fish in the ocean"... Having said that, stocks are
depleted and high quality is hard to find. But that does not mean you have
to put up with crap. In my various mails in defence of galleries, I have
never claimed that they are all fair and honourable... There are some
pretty unfair practices, as well as black sheep. Just make sure you weigh
the advantages and the total "cost" before you commit yourself.

Many thanks for all the words of support over the past couple of days. I
really appreciate each and every kindness. Even the post telling me to get
real and grow a thick skin... The problem is, that I do not particularly
want to become a hard-nosed, rich bitch at the expense of others... Whether
artists, makers or our patrons. I just want everyone to be ethical, fair
and just in their dealings. Quite an outmoded ideal...

I was quite appalled at the "buy two, get one free" post Richard J.
Can you believe that? 75% mark-up too... Hells teeth! That guy should go
back to selling made in China Black & Deckers in the world of big
business... Applying current retail and business methods (as practiced by
supermarkets world-wide) to handcrafted ART made in the UK by artists and
makers who are already earning peanuts... He needs educating! Flaming slave

Janet Kaiser
The Chapel of Art . Capel Celfyddyd
Marine Crescent . Criccieth LL52 0EA . GB-Wales . UK
TEL: (++44) 01766-523570
Home of The International Potters' Path

I just got an email from a local gallery in Cleveland Ohio. Silverthorn
Gallery is offering to rep your work in their lovely gallery for $100 per
month plus a 50% commission on all work sold and you must pay the MC/Visa
charge. You can also work in the gallery for $6.00 and hour to defer the
$100, but only $48.00 worth of work. So if you live 120 miles away....
Let's see when the dust settles after paying everybody did I make
anything????? I think things are tightening up for everybody and it's
going to be sink or swim. So plant your seeds and hopefully the rain will
come down and the sun will shine