Thank you for your response. To answer your questions, we charge entry fees for all of our exhibitions. Every single one.
These fees do a combination of the following a) create prize money for participating, b) cover the costs of advertising and promotion c) help us with our operating and administrative costs associated with putting an exhibition together.
The money for staff time, rental of our building, advertising etc has to come from somewhere. Sadly no one donates space or money for promotion saying hey, you want to promote and sell art and not charge artists? Here have this gallery and we'll pay your gallery sales staff, executive director,administrator and technician, and hey don't worry about utilities or insurance, we've got that covered for you too. If there are ways to implement a no cost model that's equally or more successful than ours, I am open to hearing it.
We don't see our interaction with artists as them relying on us or us relying on them, it's a partnership. We rely on them of course to stay in existence, if we weren't providing good services and opportunities, then by all means we should have gone the way of many other commercial galleries and shut down. But we haven't. The artists in turn rely on us for an accessible place to display and sell their artwork, they rely on us to continue working hard for them creating an organization they can be proud of, with services and programs that they enjoy and are valuable to them. Heck personally I've often offered emotional support and even legal guidance.
That's the thing, we're successful, and we're offering services and programs artists want and need, those who participate with us, see the value in that. We're also helping the public and the general consumer realize that art is something that we should not only want, but need in our daily lives, and we think that's pretty important. Entry to our gallery and exhibitions is free, and it always will be.
For artists who submit but aren't juried in to the exhibition, that's it. No display, no refunds for entry fees. We're very transparent about that on the calls for submission page. So if you don't feel right about paying and not being guaranteed a spot, just don't participate. This isn't the right opportunity for you.
They know that when they enter an exhibition with us, digital or online, they're getting not only the chance to win prizes and gain exposure (because yeah, you can pay for dinner with exposure right?), they also get a dedicated staff who are committed to promoting them, selling their artwork, helping them establish their client database. They can see that even if they didn't get accepted into an exhibition, that their submission fees are being put to good use elsewhere, no grubby money hungry gallerist is stuffing them in their Ferrari and laughing all the way to the Ritz.
Another point of note is that as non-commercial gallery, artists here set their own prices and our gallery sales assistants do not receive commission. We don't pocket any of the artist's revenue as individuals. When artists register with us, they are told from the outset that they retain 65% of any sales made on their behalf, the remaining 35% that goes right back into our organization, funding our educational programming and activities and events that promote the gallery and organisation, things like free family art days, free artist demonstrations etc.
We think it's a pretty good model, and for a charity that's been around for 75 years with 2,400 members and growing, it seems that some people out there agree