by Armand Cabrera
Art shows are hitting new lows these days. The worst offenders are front loaded with fees. They take money for a jury fee, a handling fee for stored shipping materials and even a hanging fee in some instances. I would never pay to hang my work, I don’t care what the venue is. These shows make their money off the fees. Many galleries now keep themselves in existence with these kinds of scams.
If you allow the show to recover all its money before the show opens then there is no incentive for the show to be promoted or to bring in collectors. Which brings me to another little scam where galleries ask for the collector lists of their artists. Never relinquish your client list to a venue. A venue that has no clients, charges you for space and doesn’t promote you in anyway is worthless to your livelihood as an artist and your career.
In my opinion there is nothing professional about these venues and you’re better off renting a public space for a night or weekend and advertising and hanging your own show or a show with a group of like-minded artists.
A lot of artists hold the opinion that it is an honor to show alongside other juried artists. Many times a gallery show will pay a nationally known artist to show at a venue from the upfront fees they collect. It’s sort of like an anchor store at a strip mall; they pull in the other stores. Big name artists are given spots or paid to show to get others to pay for the chance of showing with them. If you are juried into a show you’ve earned your spot no need to feel someone is doing you a favor or you’re lucky.
Art is hard enough, don’t let people take your money or take advantage of you. Shows need good artists; good artists don’t need shows. Participate in shows that support the artists and their work and take a percentage of sales; this way the expense and work is shared by the venue and the artists.