Exhibiting and Performing


Curatorial Toolkit

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Credit: The Museums & Galleries of NSWThis toolkit is designed primarily for emerging curators. Although written mainly for independent curators, a lot of this information is relevant for individuals working within an institution. The toolkit assumes the curator will be working primarily in the non-profit sector with public art galleries, museums and/or artist-run centres in Canada, although the information can also be relevant for contracts within the private sector and with institutions outside of Canada. Characteristics unique to working within the private sector, including with commercial galleries, are not contained in this document.

Get it in writing! Fresh Arts Contract Workshop 2014

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THE PRESENTATION FROM THE WORKSHOP DESCRIBED IS EMBEDDED BELOW. Get it in Writing!Understanding & Crafting Contracts with Emily Watts and attorney Erin RodgersMay 6, 2014(For artists, collectives, and nonprofits) *This workshop hosted at the Dance Source Houston Headquarters, The Barn (formerly Barnevelder).The Barn, 2201 Preston St, Houston, TX 77003Are you an artist lending your work to a business for exhibition? Are you a performing arts organization that hires independent artists to perform? Are you renting space for a performance and exhibition? In all these instances, contracts and/or letters of agreement help protect you and your work, as well as prevent misunderstandings and other problems.TOPICS TO BE COVERED INCLUDE:- Understanding basic contract language and common clauses (glossary of common legalese)- Defining correct parties- Terms and options- Intellectual property ownership- Work for hire- Liability- Consideration ( making a contract binding)- Breach and dispute- Cure options (how to remedy a breach of contract)- How do you know when you are breaking a contract- Combining contracts with Letters of Agreement (LOAs) and riders- Contract addendums and red-lining- Recourse upon broken contracts Fresh arts Get it in writing! Contract Workshop from Fresh Arts
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How to Respond to Difficult Clients (Using 4 Readymade Answers for Artists)

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 Courtesy of Empty Easel.com As a young art entrepreneur, I can remember being on a sales call where I was asked to estimate my final price without having designed the project yet.I tried to explain to the interior designer that such a request was nearly impossible, since I hadn’t even sat down and sketched out possible designs. . . the best I could do was ballpark a range, and even at that, I would need to adjust for variables.This answer was unsatisfactory for my client, and I had what I now refer to as a “retail awakening.” You see, the client was unwilling to pay for my design time if they couldn’t afford the final project.In the world of traditional interior design, quoting a price based on square footage is a perfectly normal thing to do. In my world of murals, on the other hand, creating a fee out of the air, without even a basic design in hand, would be sheer folly.Most artists, whether selling commissioned pieces or finished art, will invariably find themselves in similar sticky situations. To keep the client happy, get the sale, and maintain professional relationships, it helps to have a healthy amount of social finesse and verbal skill.The following paragraphs will give you some “readymade answers” for a few tough situations that most artists—at some time or another—will likely find themselves in.First, understand what the buyer really wantsEver since my original “retail awakening” I have come to learn that the buyer, most of all, wants reassurance.Like in any sales scenario, the buyer wants to know the product is worth the price. Knowing yourself and your own worth becomes a critical part of speaking with confidence and transmitting your professionalism.When I was younger, I was afraid of two things:First, that I would quote a price that would end up being too low for the work I would want to do, and second, that my price would be too high for an unknown idea in my customers mind.For many artists, of course, previous sales will set the price for your work and the artwork already exists (hanging up in the gallery, most likely).But if you do custom or commissioned work, every new idea has size variables, design variables, production variables, research time, and installation variables that will make quoting a “ballpark” price a disaster.What’s the solution? Well, today, when I am asked, “What will this artwork cost me?” I have a short 1-paragraph response that I use over and over again. I say:“Your final price will be determined by my time, the size, the complexity of design, the production of the actual work and whatever installation might be required. Since this work is custom, you decide all those requirements which means you’ll have a great deal of control over your costs.”Then I begin the design idea process and show them what’s possible.I have found that “price fears” have less to do with the actual amount, and more to do with what the client is getting for the money spent. In other words, if the client is excited about what you are suggesting, and can see the visual impact of what you can do, then price is not even an issue—price only becomes an issue when the client is worried they won’t get a good product.By using the example paragraph above, I show confidence and knowledge of my process, which helps allay any fears my customer might have, before an idea is even in the wind.What to do when the buyer starts negotiatingIf you are ever in a situation where a “patron” wants to negotiate a price, you’ll probably find yourself uncomfortably wanting the sale, but not wanting to be taken advantage of or disrespected.For example, if your price for an original is $1000, and the patron “lowballs” you, I recommend the following conversation that, at its heart, has a win-win attitude.“Will you take $500 for it?” a potential buyer might ask. (Be warned, my next answer here will shock you. . . )“I would love to take $500 for it.” (Disarm them by not being offended or defensive.) “When my art goes to a good home, I feel great. Unfortunately, all my other collectors would feel cheated because I would be immediately devaluing their artwork. I am sure you wouldn’t want me to do that. . .”Then—and this is very important—ignore the question of price and immediately begin a conversation to discover why they liked your work.Ask them what they see in it, and refrain from telling them what you see in it. When the customer has connected to a piece of art, it really is all about them at that moment. If you validate what they see, you may learn more about your own work than you thought possible—and they’re more likely to buy your art.Here is another thing that might shock you. Had you accepted the lowball offer of $500, you would have immediately devalued the piece in the customers mind, and nine times out of ten they’d say, “Okay, well I’ll be back. . . I have to think about it.”The reason for this is simple. If you don’t believe your art is really worth $1000, then maybe it isn’t worth $500 either. . . read more.
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Navigating the Art Gallery System: An Introduction

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 Courtesy of ArtBusiness.comAs astounding as this may seem, there's a structure and a protocol to the art world, and to the gallery system in particular; it's a system that's been in place pretty much as long as galleries have been around, and one that's not about to change. So the quicker you learn the basics, the more time, effort, money and especially heartache you'll save when searching for galleries that are right for your art. The good news is that once you understand how things work, you can purposefully and effectively make your way through artland in order to get where you want to go, wherever that may be.You see, artists proceed from exhibit to exhibit and gallery to gallery during the course of their careers in entirely orderly and predictable manners; nothing is random. There are always reasons why certain artists and certain kinds of art end up at certain galleries, institutions, museums and other established art venues. Likewise, art careers advance step-by-step, deliberately, incrementally and over extended periods of time. Sure, an occasional art star materializes suddenly out of nowhere, but this is by far the exception rather than the rule. And even these occasional materializations become orderly and predictable once the surprise wears off.Just like in any other profession, artists early in their careers have to begin at the beginning, and in the art world that means showing your art pretty much anywhere anyone will have you. The only criteria at this point is that no matter where you show your art, be sure that some segment of the general population will see it, especially people who have never seen it before. Possible venues include coffee shops, restaurants, furniture showrooms, fashion boutiques, hair salons, lobbies of commercial buildings, renting an exhibition space with artist friends, private viewings at someone's home or apartment, juried or non-juried shows, open studios, and anywhere else you can get warm bodies through the door-- that's the key. Not only does this provide experience and feedback in terms of seeing how others react to your art, but it also maximizes the number of people who'll have opportunities to see it. And the more people who see your art, the greater the chances that someone will tell someone will tell someone, and one of those someone's might own a gallery or know someone who owns a gallery and like your art enough to either want to make contact with you or convince someone else to contact you. That's how gallery shows often originate.Admittedly, those of you who've graduated from art school have an edge on the competition, at least during the early stages of your careers, meaning that during the course of your studies, you've likely been exposed to local gallery owners, critics, curators, collectors and other notable members of the art community-- so you kind of know who's who. Learning your area art scene geography is one of the great benefits of a formal art education, but it doesn't mean any of these people are going to do anything for you, and it sure doesn't mean you can walk into Triple A Fine Arts and get yourself a show just because you met the owner once. You've got to work your way up the ladder just like everyone else, but at least you know where to find the ladder.Those of you who've acquired your art-making skills outside the academic realm (and there are tons of you too) can circumvent this logistical disadvantage simply by immersing yourself in your local art communities. Go to gallery openings, museum shows (especially for local or regional art and artists), talks, tours, open studios and other known art hangouts. Openings are especially good because you get to see large numbers of art people all at once. Don't go to one or two events and think you've done your duty; go to plenty and keep on going. You can either talk to people or not while you're there, although talking is better. Either way, the upshot of repeatedly seeing and being seen is that (a) you begin to see the same people over and over again, (b) sooner or later you find out who they are, (c) sooner or later they find out who you are, (d) conversations eventually break out, (e) you share information, and (f) you eventually figure out how to navigate the art scene just like everybody else . . . read more at artbusiness.com 
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The Beginner’s Guide to Art Gallery Etiquette

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Courtesy of InnerDialogue.net. Given the unexpected popularity of some of the most recent exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia it would be easy to expect that the new visitors would understand the etiquette of visiting such a institution. But after visiting the current exhibition (Degas: Master of French Art) it seems that some people are in desperate need of education. Here are some simple rules that can apply to not only the NGA but any big gallery in the world, and are sure to avoid any potential embarrassment for the novice gallery visitor. Rule 1 – Managing your timeBefore examining the artworks contained in the exhibition take a step back and make sure you pay attention to what the rest of the crowd is doing. The main reason to do this first step is to determine the average time that people are spending looking at the works so that you can tailor your own experience to match that of others. If you spend too little time on each work you risk looking petty and insignificant. If you spend too much time you risk looking pretentious and smarter than everyone else. My advice is to take the average time spent looking at each painting, and then spending a fraction more time looking at it. This way you will look more learned to the average patron and are sure to impress anybody you are with but will avoid being labeled a ‘snob’. It may also help to look slightly concerned when looking at the piece. This will give the impression to others that you not only understand the art, but understand so well that you may have found something wrong with it. However, this tactic is best left to the advanced gallery visitor, beginners may come off as being stupid and clueless and it may lead to ridicule and in some extreme cases, the accusation that you don’t ‘get it’. Rule 2 – Movement within the gallery spaceThe one absolute truth of any gallery is that the middle of the exhibition room is officially dead space and the only space that you may occupy is a one metre strip of floor around the outside of the room that the art is in. This way everyone can get into a queue and shuffle around the gallery in an orderly fashion, glimpsing the art before moving on to the next piece. The result of this is that center of the room in the gallery is officially useless and any artworks placed there are sure to be pointless and may be ignored. The curator is well aware of this rule and places only the most popular works on the outside walls, anything not on this prime space is likely to be small and insignificant. This is the area where they usually place works on paper, or studies for the bigger pieces which offer no real insight into what the artist was thinking and can be promptly ignored. . . read more.
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VIDEO: How to Pack Your Paintings for Shipping

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Artist Lori McNee explains how to properly package your artwork for safe shipping. Learn tips on packing, materials and insuring your art.  
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A Guide to 20 Top Artist Residencies and Retreats Across the United States

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By Alanna Martinez and Chloe Wyma, Coutesy of ArtInfo.com The path to a successful art career can be a twisting one, but one commonly traveled route is the artist residency. There are hundreds of residencies out there, ranging from highly prestigious programs that are invitation-only — like those of Artpace, the Walker Art Center, or UCLA’s Hammer Museum, all of which mainly invite established artists to create fully funded projects — to more open, or even experimental, retreats.Not all residencies are created equal, and while some may help you get a leg up in the art world, you may still have to pay for the opportunity. Programs can be grouped several ways: Some are fully funded without fees; some are partially funded with fees; some offer stipends/awards; still others are project/work based. There is even a thriving "alternative" category (check out Part 2 of this series where we’ll look at some of the funkier options out there). Despite the wealth of programs in the United States, and a plethora of funding options, there are few user-friendly guides —  though Res Artis and the Alliance of Artist Communities online directories are valuable resources. Below, we assemble information on 20 programs that cover the spectrum, offering the most important information for each, including who is eligible, important alumni, pros, and cons. . . read more
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How to Write an Exhibition Proposal for an Art Gallery

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Courtesy of Art Explainer. The topic today may be a little different from the common grind of discussing artists and art works but I’m sure that it’s something that concerns most young artists, especially those who are still fresh from art schools.  Anything that serves the interest of art is a sound topic for the Art Explainer and so today we tackle the practicalities of writing exhibition proposals. I am surprised to know that until now a special topics class covering the practicalities of mounting exhibitions is not taught at most art schools here in the Philippines. Unlike in my college where we have a creative writing course called CW 198 or a special topics class that teaches the young budding writer how to write scripts, copies and proposals (those writings that bring food to the table) including proposals for publication, most fine arts graduates are left to figure it all out on their own. How to mount exhibitions is a complicated subject. Enough is said about that  but you know what’s more complicated than that?  How to create the possibility of an exhibition. This scenario is of course not true for every artist. Sometimes you just stumble upon a gallery owner and if he likes your works then presto! The more likely scenario is that you are able to gain some prominence by winning some recognition in an art contest and you are almost immediately invited to exhibit. Others start by standing out in a series of group exhibitions until perceived as someone that has really something important to show. The better situation is that the gallery perceives that you have something important to show after say, working on your thesis for a BFA or MFA. But if you’re not in any of the those scenarios above or if you are in one but the stroke of luck has never struck you then you will have to work for an exhibition proposal and portfolio. Either that or some lucky uncle owns an art gallery. . . view more
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Sample Exhibition Checklist

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Whether you are producing your own show in a rented venue or your studio, or you were selected for exhibition by an institution, there are some specific things that need to happen at key points leading up to the exhibition to reduce your stress. Below you can download a sample check-list that covers the basic timeline of an exhibition, including: setting key dates, preparing press materials and images, securing a contract/insurance, preparing with sufficient lead time to get the kind of press preview coverage that will boost attendance, updating your contact lists, social media promotion timeline, and documenting the install, opening, and recruiting some friends to help you with promotion. From the Fresh Arts staff
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Tips for Art Events

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Prepared by Lindsay Peyton, Cadence Enterprise  1. Be a great host a. Circulateb. engage conversations c. introduce guests to each other 2. Make: a. title of eventb. theme c. interesting space d. good lighting e. music or performance 3. If your budget is low, still think big a. seek sponsorsb. try food and beverage distributors c. be creative 4. Collaborate a. work with other artists, if they are dedicated b. collaborate with a nonprofit group c. tie in with a charity 5. Plan ahead!!! a. events take time to organize or they can be disasters – give yourself moretime than you need b. check social events calendars in area to make sure you don’t have aconflicting date c. create a timeline with deadlines for yourself d. recruit volunteers, including friends and relatives to help promote and staffevents e. make a promotions timeline too – so you can send out evites, pressreleases, etc. Tips for not being too shy at shows:1. Create objectives - do you want to meet people, sell work, add to your guest list, etc...2. Get in a good mood before the show -- be positive, set aside time to relax, don't drink away your nerves :)3. Be a host -- get other volunteers to help with sales, serving, etc. so you can talk to people without stressing the little details4. Talk to people besides just your immediate friends and family -- talk to new people, even if you have to practice what you would say before the show. Some easy conversation starters -- How did you hear about the show? What type of artwork do you enjoy?5. Think about what you want to communicate in advance -- consider your artist statement

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