Welcome & Thank you Visual Artists Ireland PhotoIreland Festival 2011, Dublin
About the speakers Eilís Lavelle & Sarah Searson Who are we? What's happening? What do we look for?
About Sarah Early life as practitioner Studio based Studies in Fineart , Cultural Policy and administration, critical theory Work in festivals Colleges Local authority arts service Production and Policy Teaching practices Policy Professional Practice Policy Visual Arts Policy's County Based Strategies Area based Plans Projects Public Art ie Writing and Curating Projects Assessments and selection panels www.sarahsearson.com Who are we?
Conditions of Practice More activity, more work happening between professional, semi –professional and amateur worlds. Funding climate in public art, residencies and direct funding smaller Fees decreasing People wanting to make new work People wanting to connect Value on the imagination Value of professionalism - but this is a rapid climb Lower level of risk taking Responding through programmatic structures Curated projects and shows Poor inter- generational mix Poor level of equipment share Cheap studios, cheaper space Still is a good time to be an excellent artist What's happening?
Background: NWIHFE, Foundation Art & Design, Cert in Fine Art, IADT, BA in Art & Visual Culture , UWE, Bristol
Higher Diploma, Arts Administration , NUI Galway
MA in Visual Arts Practices , IADT
Initially Freelance projects to develop my practice as a curator
Self -funded projected in TBG&S & Mermaid Arts Centre as part of MAVis, Lead to invitations to working with local authority,
Festivals. Other work includes: VAI workshops, mentoring and selection panels
About 100 Experiments , Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, 2008
Invitation through work network in Mermaid, Chairperson of the Festival - 20 artists, 4 non-traditional gallery spaces
Budget approx €10,000 in total.
As Build Drawings, New Works on Paper , 2008, Wicklow Co Co., Commission, 4 artists & 1 architect
Budget €12,000. Curatorial commission`, 4 artists commissions and 1 essay by an architect
Ritual Flux 51 , Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival 2009,
Budget €5000, Invited by Festival committee in turn invited 2 The Good Hatchery to co-curators, 15 artists, 6 venues,
screenings & live events
Britannica & other stories , Killruddery Film Festival 2010,
Self funded- sponsorship-free equipment and transport for films- Invited from Festival Director
screening of John Latham work & other with co-curator, site specific 7 artists, screening and several non-traditional
Unbuilding , 2010, Mermaid Arts Centre
Local authority initially funded from curator in residency by Cliodhna Shaffrey. Invited with another curator Rosie Lynch- 11
artists. Total budget €80,0000.11 new commissions, architectural intervention, international speakers, film screenings, local
discussion, off site events, off site events, rotating programme of exhibitions.
Who are we?
What I'm looking for in an application/proposal?
Clarity –of application, of career direction, of intention.
Capability – Is this feasible and does the artist have capacity
What is being demonstrated
Is there coherency
Talent/ Imagination – The Art
Voice or vision
Individuality – but contextualised
Art, - not to liked to but be engaged or challenged
What does sarah look for ?
Engaged practice is being support through government policy, awards, criteria, audience development
Maturing artists lead organisations - Pallas, Broadstone
Increase peer networking, reading groups, collectives, writing groups
Sector more aware of how the visual arts compare to other sectors i.e. Visibility?
Increase in Blogs e.g. +BILLION, e-flux
Increase in online presences and social media, follow programme online- virtual gallery visitors numbers
From an intuitional point of view Mermaid Arts Centre or similar Arts Centres
Time for reflection
Intuitional awareness that visual artists fee are proportionally smaller than other sectors.
Intuitions are trying to support production more, artists fee’s slowly increasing
Trying to do less with more
However trying to do better- less waste, time, resources,
Age of organisation is maturing and so the clarity of our programming and self reflectivity increasing.
Increase in artists with MA, PHDs, engaged artists
Artists awareness of what an intuition wants- expectations
Try to engage with the public- it can’t happen after the work is made....
What I'm looking for in an application/proposal?
Intuitional/ curatorial perspective
Quality of ideas
Developed professional practice
Connections to Wicklow or place
Is the proposal new work or part of a tour?
Participatory project proposal that will engage local publics
Strong relationship to place of Bray/ Wicklow
Seaside Town, architecture, social policy
What do Eilis look for ?
Questions to you
What are your experiences of the application processes?
What are your comments would you feedback to those supporting such processes?
How did you feeling about these process?
Commission EXHIBTION RESIDENCY Location/ place Location/ place Location/ place Context Logistics Exhibition clarity concept/proposal Requirements Non-residential etc Budgets Budgets Supports – prof devel Mediation – other events Panel/ curator Culture Feasibility Time Track record Track record/status Arc of development Supports needed Competition Project/ Body of work Suitability Other supports Types of assessment Developmental Partnership on going apps Engaged Structures call outs Types of assessment Panels, Call outs Short listing on going apps Staged competitions Peer/ Panel call outs Varied expertise Short listing Peer/ Panel
Examples of applications
Flexibility for artists’ responses – decorative, site, functional socially engaged, process-research, event, social
Curated and programmatic approaches – as part of something
Off-site artistic programmes- from an institution, organisation etc
Growth in number of small-scale festivals and curated events
Curated approach to commissioning - directly nominated
Academicisation of artists practice and MA and PhD in Public Art /Contemporary Art
Systems or supporting structures for work in this area Structured Arts Council European Funding Local Authorities Per Cent for Art –Local Authorities; government bodies; Regeneration Schemes: More ad hoc and self generated Organisations and Agencies Arts Events and Festivals Off-site projects of galleries and museums
artist context (place/people) commissioner artwork
Per cent of the total project amount Draw down from Government Dept Relates to individual project and person taking responsibility within a particular dept Organisational process working groups, policy and selection
Government Dept – funding for capital – and including a public art application Dependencies on goodwill and interest Problematic here – time and expertise
Exhibition Proposals: Include how you would utilize space, what materials you will use. Its similar to artist's statement about your practice but focused on your current interests, ideas , theory. Curators judge your work and your ability to communicate your ideas about this work through your visual presentation and writing. Many exhibition policy do not include a budget, only include one where asked. Many publically funding venues accept ongoing unsolicited applications others make an annual call for submissions- if your not sure just ask? Email and ask for their submission policy.
Finding exhibition contexts
Again it help to do some research into what kinds of work the
gallery has shown in the past, who is the curator, who is on the selection
panel, etc. How might your work appeal to that specific audience/Venue etc.
Are you ready?
Clarity of Ambition & Expected Outcomes for exhibition(s)…
Are you ready for a solo exhibition?
How do you make the most of an opportunity? Professionalism!
1. Irish Residential Studio Award, Red Stables, St. Anne's Park
Advertised in VAI e-bulletin, 20 July 2011
Competitive- highly sought after award
Application procedure /Submission
open call asking for
covering letter detailing the proposed usage of the studio
a plan outlining ideas for the residency
Documentation of work
Specifically say this award is for an emerging artist-What is an emerging artist?
Annual Call out- delivery what is asked for :write a page on each proposed usage of the studio and ideas for the residency
Remember there can also be an interview
Peer/ Panel – Who is on the panel- Pat Murphy. Why is that important?
“ I know that I put a big effort into a movie of my work, and I also had a couple of shows in the wings, such as Unbuilding, Limerick show, the futures etc. The only thing that I can offer is, honesty is the best policy(interview), and to present your work in the best and most suitable way possible, and to make sure you outline projects that you are currently working on, and working towards. They want to make sure that you have energy and enthusiasm most of all. Kick ass!”
Quote from James Merrigan on applying for the Red Stables Irish residential Award
2. Non-Irish Residency, Halfhouse residency in Barcelona Advertised in VAI e-bulletin, 20 July 2011
Application procedure /Submission
Welcome new and surprising ideas and proposals
If its a residential opportunity outside Ireland to make a strong cast state why you want to specifically travel to that country,
including, culture & language
Making contacts with other artists while you are there that you would like to work with
Consider interning while your there...
Get involved attend openings, engage with art scene
Find al the interesting galleries
Be careful- it could just sound like you want a holiday
Make sure you stay within budget
Unless you have proven funding from other sources
Breakdown of budget
Other professional fees – seeking quotes
Materials and Production Costs – with analysis
Transport and Per diem costs
Vat if relevant (need to check if fee is VAT inclusive)
Think about other budget lines carefully- it effects the credibility
Made budget additions that support your work also
artists' fees are tricky one -its difficult to provide any concrete guidance.
Fees are generally not separated out from the total project budget and so artists have to to estimate their own fee based on overall costs.
One recommendation puts artists fees between 20 - 25% of the total budget.
However, in reality the artists fee often gets eaten up by the production costs and in some cases artists have come away with no fee or very little.
Artists should ensure that they are paid properly for undertaking the project.
Commissioners should be aware of looking after artists fees
Selecting and responding to opportunities Finding the right match
Selecting and responding to opportunities
Are the facilities good (interesting space)
Will the opportunity lead to strong work,
will you be able to document it well,
Does it offer further opportunities, meeting curators, artists, invitations to participate in other shows,
good feedback & response, sales
Group exhibitions: building contacts and professional networks,
What support is available, will it tour, experience, networks, exhibition, building CV, make the most of the
opportunity, tell the curator about previous projects/ work you are making it may lead to solo opportunity
Residencies: experience, build CV, networks , are the facilities good, supports (Mattress Factory , USA–
good technical support) making good work, good international contacts (curators, collectors), well funded
(Banff, Canada, award from Arts Council Ireland)
Commissions : longer-term commitment. what are the supports, what is the organisations track record, who is working on it, what is interesting here, how open are they -public art .ie . Big question do you have time.
Before making a proposal consider: why do you want to exhibit with this particular venue/institution/
Space? Why apply for this particular residency or project?
Do consider submitting ‘two person’, group exhibitions or collaborative projects
Consider how do you want the work to be read/encountered/ viewed? This is curatorial awareness.
What is your motivation?
Where relevant are there politically or social ideas that you might consider including that could be of local
Interest/topical? What audience do you imagine for the work? Have you considered artists talks, reading
groups, interviews as part of your proposal.
What do you want it to achieve. Will it be engaging with the public(s)/art audiences?
Based on an exchange? Are there many collaborators/participants?
Language, benefits, networks, are there visiting curators, an exhibition at the end
Does the project fit the criteria, have you thought through your idea properly, developed the concept
suffiently? Have you done you research? Is your budget realistic,
Mapping out responses
Proposals – Content
Writing a proposal
10 questions- for mapping a response to a brief
Where are they located? (in all senses )
What are the possible connections in the brief to your work?
Are there aspects of it I am not interested I? How could I problem solve here?
What type of artists does the brief indicate? Could this be challenged?
Is this relevant to me? Are aspects of it only – should I apply jointly?
How can I respond in an interesting way – is there a point of challenge, change, engagement within this brief,
Peoples Communities Organisations, Cultures and places – what connections are indicated to the artist? How could this work for you?
Research what ideas can I find that I could use and adapt? Are there other public art projects that have happened (either in Ireland or internationally) in a similar context?
Have artists who I admire or are interested in done similar or parallel projects.
Is there existing research about this subject or context in a different discipline that would really inform me?
A proposal should….
Demonstrate originality of content –the central idea should be easy to communicate?
Quality of concept – have the ideas been resolved?
Quality of writing, images and supporting materials
Striking visual impact from the images of artists work (clear, bright, interesting, etc..)
Include documentation of previous exhibitions, installation images consider professional photographer
And mock ups of exhibition, project where suitable to help the selection panel visualise (i.e. Photoshop or CAD)
Demonstration that you have done your research-
Suitability of your project/proposal to the award/opportunity
respond to the criteria
Quality of idea/concept
Exhibition: visited the exhibition space, Technical specifications, exhibition venues (requirement of blackout
Proposal should include some not all of the following:
Local interest- artists from locality?
Work about locality possible-historical, sociological or educational significance in proposal
Relationship to the current programme or interest of the curators i.e. Representation of identity
Partnerships with other local, regional, or national cultural intuitions- institutions that can contribute to
the funding and awareness of the exhibition.
Writing a proposal
Length (guidelines only...each project varies depending on number of artists, etc..)
Exhibition proposal length: 1, A4 pages
Project Awards/ Commissions: 2-3, A4 proposal concepts pages plus budget, feasibility, etc... (20-50 pages in total)
A proposal is like a declaration of what you intend to do?
What is the exhibition/project about?
Your writing should be concise -include a summary or introduction
Then expand on your ideas, be persuasive, creative
Developing a proposal
In developing a proposal give yourself time to think, write and prepare. Draft and draft and edit some more. Proof read and revise till its perfect and past it on to a friend to proof.
Writing and Language.
Read the application carefully and give yourself time to prepare a proposal.
Structure your proposal based on what is required.
Write clearly, intelligently or simply in a way that communicates your ideas quickly.
You can write in a style that uses industry language (arts language), but, avoid being obtuse and do not inflate your own importance.
The opening statement and paragraph is important.
Generally it is good to keep sentences and paragraphs shorter.
You can write in a way that expresses creatively your ideas and resonates with concepts but remember who will be reading it and make sure it comprehensible.
Try not to be boring or dense. Do not be afraid to use simple language.
Footnotes can help greatly to give a flow to your text and also gives space for explaining complex ideas or words.
Don't be afraid, personality can come through, so can humour and mystery but this is best in a way that is not self-conscious.
Remember writing is a process - ideas come through this process.
Clarity emerges when you write and structure your thoughts.
Always leave time for editing and fine tuning.
What is usually in a proposal?
Proposals might include some or all of the following depending on what you are asked to provide:
Up-to-date curriculum vitae
Artists statement – or personal project statement
Visual reference material
Proposal of written concept with visualisation of ideas
Other things; might be references, often background research in support, perhaps a statement of competency – this might reflect a particular orientation in the brief. Often supporting statement if others are deeply embedded with the projects.
Ideas if appropriate about the longevity, maintenance , mediation, publicity, its decommissioning, methods or conditions of reproduction and so on….
Sometimes an idea strikes quickly, other times ideas come through a process of consideration and reflection.
See if it possible to build a period of research and development into the proposal before confirming an approach or idea.
Is it possible to give an indication of intent, a sketch of ideas and to develop a final proposal should you get interest from the organisation?
What projects or works by other artists have meaning for you – or have done this kind of work?
Can you research their approach and practice, how might you draw on these?
Push yourself! there will be aspects of the call for proposals or brief that will be of interest while other elements seem daunting and off-putting. (like any job)
If you like most of what they are asking for go for it!
Get help – is there scope for a collaboration –could you do certain aspects of this project by working with another artist, a specific group of people, employ a mentor, a mediator or bring in other expertise different to yours?
Why do you need all the skills – are you super human?
What is the intent of the Artists Statement
T ake it seriously – Take Time - use positive words – be honest – take you time to explain big concepts –
that means breaking up sentences, be kind to your audience – flooding them – drowns them. Be clear –
edit, edit, edit and then refine on the basis of peer feedback.
Discuss the properties or qualities of your work
Educational, communication tool
Informative of the philosophical conceptual tenet underpinning your work
an opportunity curb misrepresentation
For the public and peers to read.
Describes succinctly and clearly informs about the aspects of your work that you wish to reveal
Engager – a cataylist for interest a conversation starter,
who made it, and how it was produced.
De-coding briefs -interpreting what “they” are looking for,
The key is to find a connection between the context, what the gallery,
commissioner or organisation is looking for and how this connects with
your artistic practice.
It is possible to subvert or find ways of responding to a traditional brief –
if the particular commission is of interest, do they always know what they
are looking for ? you have a good idea – make the proposal. you can re-
cycle ideas, because these ideas are contextualised by your practice
Decisions will depend on the selection panel – and like all selection
processes – it can be very much based on personalities - they may or may
not be open to your particular response, but artists have been successful
in proposing a project outside the scope of the original brief.
Do analyse what you think they are looking for – but don't compromise
your own work to the point it loses meaning or value to you.
Become a project strategist
tone/ ideal/ set up
Middle - working through
solving problems and managing changes and people
End - handing back
wrap-up, moving on – most important legacy
Visual representation Overall Presentation Style Consistency & clarity – fonts type, font sizes, layout, colour Choosing What images do you choose? What images might weaken or strengthen your application? What do they communicate ? Relevant work / New work Overall Presentation
Considerations of print Pros / Cons Higher control of colour, easy to photocopy, convenience of being on paper – easy to access as handouts, Paper can be large and detailed at the same time. Flip side – good quality more expensive, takes longer, need to take to printer, degrades, may not photocopy in colour Digital CD – high and low res images, folders titled, openable on computer DVD – single presentation – just plays on DVD player or Computer Title images in the same format throughout. Artists Name (where more than one artist!) , Title-Italics, (2011), Medium, 129cm x 229cms.
An artist’s CV establishes:
Status/ experience: emerging, under the radar or established artists
Conceptually interesting work from titles, venues, projects ?
Feasibility: Experience working with intuitions
Career path- Education, open submissions experience - EVA+, Claremorris open etc..
Awards e.g. Local Authority Bursaries, Emerging Artist Award, Wexford Arts Centre.
National & International Prizes: John Moore’s prize, RHA awards.
Experience working with curators Selected group exhibition or what
curated exhibitions they have been included in
Can you deliver a Solo exhibition?
A tale of two CVs
Get someone else to read your application – if you are lucky enough to have patient friends.
Try to make have a non art person look at your application – they are more sensitive to waffle and speak.
Common Bleeps and Blips
Not completing all aspects of the required submission process
Not submitting the proposal on time *
Exceeding the defined budget a poor budget*
Proposing an idea you are not ready it’s a proposal that your heart is not in *
Never ever… ever… fall into the trap of second guessing the selection process.
Always ask for all feedback and any written material that may have formed part of the selection process.
Accept criticism.. Decide yourself if its relevant
What not to do Your opinions about art, “ the art world” e.g. this work challenges the hegemony, failure stupidity, status, introversion, elitism of the art world – what works and what doesn’t work as art practices….. (This is not to say don’t think like this but taking an outsider position before your in.. undermines somehow your credibility ) Be a little sceptical – Don’t be too taken in by loose application processes – we just want a few ideas… you can be sure those who want it will go for it.. and this I have found had been unfair to the believers For those who have been at it a while.. Loads and loads of back dated material – like a retrospective of your career is weak. Its not that you aren't interesting – but you are part of a competitive process –who and what you are now is important – but not what you were – if you are not actively showing the concept – telling people that you used to be someone is bad
My friend the Politician/ Mayor/ Cllr/ your boss/ the chair of the board
with whom I swim/play golf/ have dinner or other relations with
said I should apply……
Warmth vs personal detail
I appeal whole heartily to this organisation to support me at this difficult