I am fundamentally opposed to paying submission fees, as I stated in part 1 of this rant. I understand that the curator or juror has to be paid and that the gallery has overhead and bills to pay, but, hey, so does the artist.

It also used to be that the gallery would pay the return shipping costs. These days the artist must incur costs to ship their work both ways.

In Canada a number of public (not for profit) galleries and artist run centers will pay Carfac fees, but that is dependent on whether or not they have funding. Carfac is an arts advocacy association that has put together a fee schedule on what are fair fees for artists to show, provide workshops and lectures. They even took the National Gallery all the way to the Supreme Court fighting for artist copyrights. They won.

Arts and culture is dramatically underfunded, so if a government grant doesn’t come your way costs will fall to the artist to pay. The new rule seems to be if you want to show your work be prepared to foot the bill. Some exhibitions are worth the fee because of their high profile.

I’m not saying that public galleries are to blame. Obtaining funding is very competitive. The galleries rely heavily on volunteers and seasoned grant writers to compete for these funds.

My rule is not to pay entry fees, submission fees or whatever they may be called. Recently I was invited by a curator to submit to a juried show. In the prospectus it indicated a “participation fee” of $30 USD. I thought that meant I was going to be paid $30 for showing my work but alas, it was me that was to pay them. I was disappointed because I wanted to “participate” in the show but did not want to break my rule of not paying fees to do so. This is what I did:

I wrote the curator and explained that the “participation fee” was misleading as it sounded like the fee was being paid to the artist. I asked if they would waive the fee and they did. Don’t be afraid to ask. Perhaps if more of us did…

Perhaps it would be prudent in the never ending line up of creative and gifted artists to just say NO and ask, “Will the artist be paid?”