Monday, May 10, 2010

Entry Fees for Juried Exhibitions?

The juried exhibition is necessary, time consuming and becoming more expensive. I say, "Necessary", because of my own experiences in my personal creative journey. When I began entering and being accepted for exhibition, it was an indication to me that my work was worthy of public viewing. It indicated that a professional in the field thought my work was "good enough" to be included in the specific exhibition. Then, winning place awards, a few with monetary rewards, gave me the additional encouragement I needed to continue pursuing a professional career in the visual arts. I will later add the invaluable role juried exhibitions played later in my career.

I have exhibited my artwork extensively throughout the United States. Always in juried or invitational venues, and always of national or international scope. I, also, sought out traveling exhibition opportunities in which to participate. For 35 years my work traveled in art exhibitions coast to coast. I sought exhibition opportunities at the most prestigious venues I could find and I watched for who the juror or jurors would be. After being on the juried show circuit for awhile I began to recognize the jurors that favored my work and style. Most importantly, who didn't understand or appreciate my work.

After years of participating in juried shows I began to exhibit regularly by invitation. I, also, came to be in professional positions where exhibiting new work was expected from me regularly. Later, I created a body of work and organized the 18 pieces into a traveling exhibition. I now have the pleasure of documenting the artwork that traveled for 5 years. I am documenting the 18 artworks on my website at Currently it is an ongoing project, please join me as I add works to the narrative. 
This is the evolution of my earlier efforts to show my work in a multitude of juried exhibitions. When first perusing "calls for entry" from the galleries, museums and educational institutions. Monthly, I would quickly skim the listings and identify the location, the time frame, the theme or concept, and who was to be the juror or jurors for upcoming exhibitions. I also sought out "galleries reviewing portfolios" for solo or small group shows. I was particularly excited by any type of publication that would accompany the exhibit.

The time came that I had to begin taking note of the amount of the entry fees. The first 10 to 12 years most entry fees were between $10 and $18, quite reasonable for a young artist. The next bump up was $20 to $25. That amount wasn't too high but it did limit the number of shows I entered. Entry fees, now, have become diverse and reflect the institution or caliber of exhibition, the quality of any accompanying publications, or that of the juror/jury. Currently entry fees are running from $25 to $45. Some charge that and $5 for each additional artwork up to three. Although I am well aware of the costs the sponsoring entity takes on in the course of an exhibition, I would be hard pressed to enter the quantity of shows I once enjoyed.

If I was just starting out building my career and marketing my artwork, I would not be able to follow in my own footsteps today. Not being a "trust fund baby" I would be required to take a job to afford the level of activity I once managed. I wonder if I would have achieved all that I did without the foundation of multiple juried exhibitions, including the contacts gained from the shows?

Today, I'm not sure I would start my career in the same way. Even now I know the costs of exhibiting with juried shows can be prohibitive for emerging artists. There has always been some controversy, not only about the amount of the entry fee, but that there was any fee to begin with. The juried show phenomenon is useful in many ways, especially if one should chose to teach in higher education. Being accepted and exhibited in a prestigious show can be as valuable as the “publish or perish” diatribe for academic. With that aside for a later discussion, I want to concentrate on the fee itself. Why is there a fee? What does the hosting institution do with the fees?

If you are a visual artist and have any questions or comments, please do so here.
I will discuss the costs that make up the entry fee in my next post. Thank you.

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