How your gallery can make money…

With all the exhibitions and workshops I’ve been involved with this last month there was bound to be one which slipped through the net. I completely forgot to tell all about the Rochester Contemporary 6×6 exhibition which opened in upstate New York on June 4th.

The exhibition is a gallery fundraiser but with a difference. The show encourages anyone and everyone to contribute artworks only 6″ x 6″ in size. The public are then invited to buy for only $20. Earlybird visitors on the night can secure first dibs by paying a little extra. All the funds go to support the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center.

It’s an amazing way to raise money for a gallery. Many galleries get it wrong in that they expect the artist to pay a fee to enter an open show. Curators then choose the best art in their opinion and the show goes on. The curators choice is final and the general public visiting the show might not necessarily get to see, or know about, the rejected artist and their artworks.

I’ve always felt this is a flawed system. The choices a curator makes in rejecting artists might not be in the gallery’s best interest in securing a sustainable future. The curator might be right in putting together a respected exhibition showcasing the best of the best but this is an unsustainable vehicle for keeping the gallery in business. And yes galleries are businesses! Such businesses should be inventive in the ways they support local artists, communities, and raise funds for their exhibitions. They should be welcoming as many potential buyers through the doors.

I was proven right a few years ago when I submitted for an open, was rejected, and then on my way home actually sold the artwork I was carrying completely through a chance meeting. If only the gallery had accepted my piece they could have had a cut of the profit. But no. I was told my art was not ‘suitable’ for their demographic, even though the person I sold to was one of their regular visitors.

At Rochester Contemporary they allow the public to decide what’s good and what’s not. They vote with their wallets. The ‘good’ art sells and raises money for the gallery. Because the art is priced at pocket money prices ($20 a piece!) this exhibition has high sales. At time of writing around a quarter of the artworks have sold raising around $30000 for the gallery.

You could argue that I’m still the one losing out here because I receive no money for my art. But then a 6″ x 6″ piece didn’t take me long to make and the shipping to the US cost pennies. I’d rather lose pennies to keep a gallery afloat rather than get fleeced by a gallery expecting me to pay massive submission fees for a show I’ve got no guarantee of being in.

I get the exposure without the massive overheads which as far as I’m concerned is better than a huge loss in shipping fees and submission fees. Who knows who might own a piece of me and what connections that could lead to? I’ve gained a fair few friends and connections in North East USA which have lead to sales and opportunities beyond what I would ever dream of here in the UK.

The exhibition is on public display until July 17th so if you’re in the Rochester NY area then please visit. Last year I sold quite early on. This year there’s still time for you to own a piece of me, or a piece of someone else. Alternatively you can see every artwork on the RoCo website by clicking here.

Don’t delay! Support your local (or international) gallery today!


Lot #711… me!


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