Organising an impressive art event and curating an art exhibition is no easy task. Throwing a great party alone is not as simple as many people may think, however, when you have to take expensive and fragile artwork into consideration (which you or your client is likely to be interested in selling), things become even far more complicated. Making sure you get exposure and attract the right audience; ensuring no art is damaged and all of the artists are happy with the way they are being represented; selling beautiful art and keeping your customers happy; having a mind-blowing preview night and entertaining your guests… These are just some of the crucially important points that have to be thoroughly thought through before you even consider taking on a job of curating an art show.
There are no sets of rules for a successful art event (are there any for any events?) – Risks and chances of things not going according to plan or going completely wrong are always present. However, setting your goals right, knowing What you are going to do and How you are going to do it (plan of action!), being fully armed and prepared for battle in case of unforeseen circumstances can significantly increase your chances of hosting a fantastic art show which will result in sales, smiling artists and appreciative art buyers. Success all around!
Where do we start?
- The first step is establishing the purpose of the exhibition. What is your mission? What is the end goal and Why is it important that this particular art show actually takes place? Who is the artist/artists and why do they create their art? Why does the world need to see it? Are you absolutely sure that the world actually does need to see it?… 🙂
- Where is the exhibition taking place? Is it a dedicated art gallery or is it a private venue? How much is it going to cost you to hire the space? What is the facility like? Wall space, lighting, windows, floors, ceilings, equipment, stairs, corners, furniture… What’s available and what needs to be hired/rented? Is there a car park? Is it easily accessible? What if any of your guests are disabled?
- How long is the art show going to run for? When does it begin and what is the end date? Does you preview night fall onto a weekend? Are there any major sporting events/premiers/shows/etc. on the same day? Set all the deadlines and make sure you have enough time to accomplish everything you need to in time. Or even earlier.
- What is your audience like? What kind of people are you going to invite to the show and who are you trying to reach out to? Who is your perfect customer? Are they going to like the type of art you are exhibiting? Would they be able to purchase it if they like it?
- What is your budget? Have you got the funding already or do you need to find a sponsor before you can get things into motion? Price everything up: the art space costs, artists’ fees, equipment, staff remuneration, press, advertising and marketing, printing and framing, shipping and customs, installation of art, reception, refreshments etc…etc.
- Marketing strategy. Writing press releases, reaching out to journalists, sending out private invitations, online marketing, brochures and catalogs, radio adverts, banners – explore all of the possibilities and choose the ones that suit your needs. It may be a good idea to work with a professional marketer to establish the best options.
- Organising a quality pre-opening event that every single one of your guests will remember and will keep talking about for a long time. Hosting an astonishing party that is exciting and unusual is half of the whole exhibition success. Eye-popping live performances and electrifying music, refreshments, artists’ introductions and conferences… Getting the exhibiting artists to talk about their work and answer any questions that your guests may have. Maybe even arranging a little intriguing workshop taught by the exhibiting artists. Keeping your guests’ eyes sparkling with excitement is key to the overall success of the event!
- Staying calm and professional no matter what. Even if things do go wrong (as they often do regardless of our efforts), staying focused and concentrated is essential. It’s always easier to solve any problem with a cold head. So… whatever happens, don’t panic.
- Knowing everything about your artists and their art. There is nothing more confusing than curating an art show and not being able to talk about the art you are exhibiting! Be well-prepared to talk about art in general as well give pieces of advice and provide art consultancy services.
This list can go on and on… There are plenty of aspects that have to be considered, but that’s a start. We look forward to being invited to your art shows!
P.S. when writing a press release and creating texts for your catalogs, you may want to use some of the clever ‘arty’ words that usually work very well:
Contextualize, Conceptual, Narrative,Composition, Nonrepresentational art, Pseudo-art, Aesthetics, Paintily, Figurative, Idealization, Objectification, The male gaze, Institutional theory, Randomization, Intellectual interaction, Paradigm, Connectivity, Disconnectivity, Recursiveness, Disillusionment, Visual thinking, Empirical, Experimental, Diffusion, Characterization, Originality, Synchronicity, Relativism, Abstraction, Complexity, Simplification, Symbolization, Personification, Stratification, Fragmentation, Isomorphic, Dualism