Friday, 11 November 2011

What makes a Good Gallery Update

Back in December 2010 I wrote a post on my thoughts on what makes a good gallery. Much water has passed under the bridge since then. I now find myself working part time as Marketing Manager and Art Project Coordinator for Allendale Forge Studios in a little village called Allendale on the edge of the North Pennines. 

I am responsible for planning and running a rolling programme of exhibitions and workshops. I'm involved with selecting artists/craftspeople who are interested in selling their work from The Forge Studios. Disclaimer - all views here-to-fore are my own - but this new job has given me some idea of what it is like from a gallery perspective when dealing with artists. I am rapidly learning how to bring about best practice for gallery and artists alike.

Allendale Forge Studios began life at an artists cooperative in a small gallery/cafe whose home was a converted village butcher's shop. It soon outgrew its premises and the main person behind the gallery and cafe, had a vision to turn the derelict garage on the edge of the Market Square into what it has become an amazing facility for the local creative community with affordable studio space, sound recording studio, video conferencing facilities, gallery, gift shop and cafe. 

My previous post referred to an interesting one from Gail Brodholt on the subject to which I added my two pennies worth. We both agreed that:
  • A good gallery pays promptly. 
  • A clear written contract should be a pre-requisite. 
  • It should state clearly the rate of commission.
  • Whether sales are subject to VAT. 
  • When one can expect to be paid.
My post also highlighted the importance of developing a good relationship between gallery and artist and on this subject I have some new things to add but this might require several posts so here is PART 1.

I asked how one would know when a gallery has sold an artist's work.
Well, I can tell you how it works now at Allendale Forge Studios but I do think it is unusual. Perhaps other artists out there can confirm or deny this. The way it works at The Forge is that once it is agreed to take in the artist's work, their bank details are collected as part of their contract with The Forge. At the end of each month the artist receives a statement of sales, if any. No statement means no sales.  

In my experience, so far, I find few artists ask if there have been any interest in their work even if there hasn't been any immediate sales. Whether or not an artist has sold anything it's a good idea to ask for that all important feedback. If the work isn't selling isn't it worth finding out if the gallery has any thoughts on why not? It is important to offer a gallery alternative work because any gallery worth their salt DO want keep their displays fresh. They DON'T want to be used as a store room if it can be avoided. And, as an artist said to me the other day who IS on the ball, if you're investing a significant amount of money and time in framing and creating the work what's the point in having it languishing in a store room where no one gets to see it if you can have it back and circulating to other galleries. Good point!

Watch this space for further thoughts on framing and developing that relationship with galleries. 

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