Ask anyone what they enjoy the best about going to an art show and many will tell you it is the opening night celebration they look forward too. And who can blame them, after all what better way is there to spend a day, than enjoying some brand new art whilst partying?
Here it is, a step by step guide to planning and staging an art exhibition.
You might be surprised at the amount of planning an exhibition requires. Factors such as places, budgets, funding, sponsorship, advertising and marketing, catering, and maybe insurance, all require careful consideration. Lead times can vary considerably as a result, with a few displays taking a year or more to install, while others can be ordered in a few months.
Budgets, sponsorship, and funding
Staging an art exhibition could be expensive, and you will need to ensure you’ve got enough funding, whether personal, or via sponsorships, to pay the price of items like catering, advertising, printing, and gallery space. You will need a budget for constructing staging and lighting. While recognised artists may be able to find sponsors to cover costs, as their bigger following ensures a fair amount of vulnerability due to their backers, new or emerging artists might not be so lucky, and will need to rely on savings, or help from family or friends. Check around though, it may be possible to obtain financing through arts grants, and sometimes municipal councils or community groups may provide some help staging a show, whether it be providing a place, or publicity.
Pricing your artworks
This is among the harder steps in the process of organizing an art show. The amount you can request on art will depend on a number of factors such as your reputation or standing as an artist. Clearly the more regarded your job, the more you may ask. Another is that the arrangement you have with the gallery displaying your work. Most galleries take a commission on works sold during an exhibition. Although this cut varies, sometimes considerably, rates of approximately 25 to 30 percent are fairly common.
When you have funding, a place, and a motif worked out, you can begin arranging the printing of promotional brochures and flyers, name cards, and a list or catalog of the things you’ll be exhibiting. If cash is tight though you might have the ability to decrease some printing costs by doing some of the work yourself. Great looking catalogues and title cards could be produced using a Word-processor, using good fonts, some cautious page design, and use an excellent printer.
Promote and market
There are quite a few choices when it comes to promoting displays, many of which are cheap, or free. Social networking sites, like Facebook, make it easy for members to create pages for occasions, like an exhibition opening, and issue invitations for their contacts. There is also artwork focused discussion forums, and you could also consider coming arts bloggers to find out if they will assist the spread the word. Be careful not to wear your welcome out, or take anything for granted here however.
Food, drinks, and catering
A big part of the opening night of any exhibition is that the food, drink, and party atmosphere, but you do not have to go overboard here however. Offering your guests a choice between a white and red wine, and water (and juice or soft drinks, in case you really need to push out the boat) is quite okay.
If have a generous host, or even find a place that does catering for functions, you might then also have the ability to put on beer and some finger food. If you are hosting your event around the Melbourne city, there are many options for you to choose places, which do fantastic catering, such as catering in South Yarra for events around the Melbourne area.
Many of the shows I go to usually open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. Thursday seems to be the most frequent day, it is not too early in the week, and not too near the weekend. Prevent openings over weekends, or earlier in the week, times that people normally have other plans. An early day opening of about 6pm is likely a good all round time. Most your guests will be on the way home form work by then, yet it’s still early enough for them to fit your display in around other programs they have for later in the day.
You will definitely need a photographic record of this opening, so try and arrange for someone to take photographs through out the day. Post the pictures to your Flickr or Facebook pages, and use them when you write about concerning the opening on your site later.