My RANT on axisweb: Prizes and competitions: should artists pay to apply for the ’privilege’ of being considered?

Here’s a link to my RANT on axisweb about artists paying to enter art competitions. And how I think it’s not necessarily a good idea!

http://www.axisweb.org/features/news-and-views/the-rant/rant-96/

Me, by Helen Dryden, 2013.
Me, by Helen Dryden, 2013.
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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Aaron says:

    You could argue artists also need to participate and invest in their art – why expect everyone else to pick up the tab. Competitions are important – they help the artists CV. I am an artist who sells and I know these experiences enrich my cv and help me get my work out there. I am not blind to the real world – everyone involved in art needs to cover their costs. Grow up.

    1. helendryden says:

      Ooh, “Grow up” is a little rude, don’t you think?

      Yes, I see your point that everyone (artists included) has a responsibility to invest in their own careers. But I don’t know of other industries where you have to pay for your job application to even be considered. Too many competitions pitched at artists offer little in terms of possible career gains, and to be expected to pay to enter these is insulting.

      I would suggest a fee for the selected winners perhaps, if a fee must be charged. But ideally the money to cover the costs of running the competition would come from commission from selling the winning art, selling tickets to see it or from sponsorship.
      There isn’t a simple answer to the problem, but I think it’s something that artists need to think about carefully when deciding whether to send off that money- as in, who is the cash going to, and what will you get out of it?

      And of course, if you are against gambling for religious reasons it forces you out of taking part which is totally unfair!

  2. timneath says:

    I’m glad someone is taking on this subject. Each Sunday I receive an email from the arts council telling me of the opportunities. Of the few that are appropriate for me, it always comes down to cost, how many can i afford to gamble on. Adding to the strength of the work, how much I want to be in the show too. I only pay submission fees about once a month, or I could spend silly amounts. I think it’s unfair that some places charge as much as £200 for a submission. I agree with you entirely. The work should be based on it’s merits, does it fit with the curators selections so far etc? The free submission are equally as good. To pay on being accepted is better practice, showing you want to show with a gallery and are prepared to take on the costs of exhibiting.

  3. Georgie says:

    Aaron, “grow up” is a pretty shallow and unsophisticated response to a complex question. No other sector asks people to pay to submit a job application – so why is this acceptable in the arts?

    You argue that artists should learn to “cover their costs.” I would argue that the role of artists is to make work, and they invariably do cover the (often considerable) costs of that – so logically, if artists should cover their costs, galleries should cover theirs. Their role is to select good work and show it. They should be the ones meeting the costs of that process.

    If you take a sympathetic view and say that, as an artist, you’re willing to support a gallery or space kind enough to select and show your work, then it’s fair to contribute towards the cost of the show – if you’re in it.

    I’m willing to contribute to the cost of a show that I’m in, especially if it’s artist led and there’s transparency about where the money is going.

    But I think fee paying opens are often far from transparent. Too many spaces and galleries are adding opens to their programmes not as a way of supporting emerging artists by giving them a chance of exposure, but as a means to generate an easy revenue stream.

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