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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

10-Step Guide To Run a Successful Art Exhibition

You can choose to organize an art exhibition either to showcase your own work or to bring together other artists. If you are an art gallery, it could be a perfect opportunity for you to show your commitment to your artists. Whereas, artists can use this opportunity to display their craft and love for art. However, hosting an art exhibition is still a big task and requires painstaking effort from the organizers. Starting right from making decisions about location, theme, and finances, it also requires a lot of coordination and communication.

We, at TERAVARNA, have been representing artists in multiple art shows like the LA Art Show and Superfine, etc. We are also a co-founding gallery for artBIAS — an emerging contemporary art show. Based on our experience we have compiled a list of pointers every art exhibition organizer must take care of, well in advance of the exhibition.

How To Organize an Art Exhibition

To organize an art exhibition you need to have a far-sighted vision and plan various things ahead of time. As your first time, you are likely to make mistakes, but these pointers will help you avoid unnecessary hiccups.

1. Start Planning at least 3 Months in Advance

Organizing an art show is a huge commitment and different aspects of the show are interdependent. Hence you must take up a realistic timeline to make sure everything falls into place before the show. Keeping extra time in hand will allow you to have more choices for the venue, dates, and timings. Make sure to pick a date that is probably a weekend, but not a holiday to get a higher footfall. Similarly, choose a time probably around late afternoon or early evening so that it is convenient for people to attend the event.

2. Decide on a Theme

Irrespective of whether you are displaying your own works or inviting artists to showcase them, the artworks on display should look like they are all part of a bigger picture. Many organizers choose to build their exhibitions around a central theme to give them a more unified look. If you want to go open, try to look for works that can relate to each other in some manner. They should look like a cohesive body of work put together to create a meaningful experience. 

3. Plan Out Your Budget

Planning your finances is a crucial step to ensure things don’t go haywire due to monetary constraints. Plan out all the expenses, fees, and budget in advance. Start by figuring out the money you can pay out of your pocket or ways to arrange it. The expenses can include venue charges, installation costs of the artworks, refreshments, marketing and logistics expenses, etc. You also need to figure out the fees you are going to charge the artists to let them display their work. Your budget should also include the expenses for smaller details which can vary depending on your course of action. Finally, if you are planning to make a profit out of the exhibition, take your revenues into consideration before finalizing other expenses. 

4. Start Looking For a Venue

This is one of the first things you should do after getting a direction on the theme. Your choice of venue can make or break your entire event. If you are going with a central theme, look for a venue that would complement the aesthetic of the theme. If you want to go open, you can mold the place to your vision with some minimal decorations. Don’t go overboard with decorations because they are not the highlight of the exhibition — artworks are  You should also make sure that the venue is easily accessible and is likely at a popular location. 

5. Plan Out The Nuances of Marketing

A show is only successful if it reaches the right audience. So unless you have an extensive network of people in the niche, you may want to start marketing the event. Fix a budget for the promotions and if you are new in the domain, you can seek the help of a professional marketer to help align your goals with the campaign. Look for different channels of marketing so that the news reaches the right audience and you don’t only attract a big crowd but also make sales at the art exhibition if that is your goal. 

6. Invite Artists

If you are hosting an art show with the works of different artists, you need to do this well in advance. An ideal time would be at least 2.5 months so that it gives interested artists the time to prepare for the show. Remember, preparations may include logistics, traveling,, and several other bookings on the part of artists and they would need sufficient time to plan everything out. You can start by approaching artists that you personally know and spreading the information through your marketing channels. You can also look up artists online and visit other galleries in your area. The goal is to find people whose work would not only match the entire theme but also complement the work of other artists. 

7. Curate the Final Artworks for Display

Inviting artists isn’t always the same as entering them into the exhibition. Depending upon the organizers, they may want to choose the final pieces for the exhibition. This ensures the pieces are cohesive and serve the theme of the show. However, in such cases, clearly communicate it to all the invited artists so that they don’t misunderstand your invitation as entry to the exhibition. 

8. Communicate With the Artists

Once you have the list of artworks to be displayed in order, make sure to communicate it to the artists well in advance. Try finishing your selection process at least two months before the exhibition so that artists have enough time to make up their minds. Follow up if you don’t hear back from them. An additional point to take care of is to communicate all the details related to parking, commission on sales, transporting the artwork, mounting, and unmounting, to the artists.

9. Plan the Display Layout

The size and dimensions of all the artworks shall vary and it is imperative to plan out their display details in advance. Make sure you have all the requisite details from artists so that you can decide the layout of where and how to display each artwork. A better way to plan this would be by visiting the venue so that you have concrete figures to help you. Organizers usually give every artist a dedicated space, but if you can’t do that, plan the display according to the theme and relation between each work so the art exhibition doesn’t look scattered. You can choose to let the artists mount their own works or hire a crew to help them depending upon your budget and arrangements. In either case, let your artists know this beforehand. 

10. Makeshift Sales Counter

If you want to sell artworks through the exhibition, arrange a sales counter where you can generate receipts, and receive the payments. You would also need to arrange packing materials and other stationery items to generate to take note of the sales. However, do not arrange for packing or shipping of the artworks during the exhibition so that they can remain mounted till the end. You can arrange their shipment, once the show concludes. 

Organizing an Art Exhibition is Worth the Efforts

It might all sound very daunting now, but organizing an art exhibition has several benefits. It helps people know about you and your gallery. If you are an artist, the word will spread about your art. In other words, an art exhibition can be your ticket to building a brand for your business and setting your reputation in the industry as a reliable connection. 

If you want to organize an exhibition, don’t be scared and get rolling. You might make some mistakes, but you will also learn and eventually grow.

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