Thursday, February 19, 2009

National Art Societies in the UK - Open Exhibition dates and deadlines

I keep a schedule each year of the various exhibitions of art societies and art competitions - and realised just recently that I'd forgotten to continue to update all the details for 2009.
  • Today I'm going to summarise the major open exhibitions which relate to national UK art societies
  • Tomorrow I'm highlighting the major art competitions
Major Open Exhibitions - as opposed to the major art competitions - are nearly always linked to national art societies and the larger regional art societies.

The definition of an Open Exhibition is that any artist may submit work to be shown in the exhibition. You don't need to be a member of the relevant art society.

Most of the leading national art societies are affiliated to the Federation of British Artists based at Carlton House Terrace and the exhibitions are held at the Mall Galleries. The major exception is the Royal Watercolour Society which exhibits at its own gallery - the Bankside Gallery next to Tate Modern. National Art Societies may also have members only exhibitions which are not included in this list. Some non FBA art societies also choose to have their open exhibitions at the Mall Galleries and have their exhibitions administered with the assistance of the FBA. Yet other societies choose to administer their open exhibitions themselves and locate their exhibitions at other locations and galleries.

Annual exhibitions of the major art societies normally follow well known schedule. You can find the detailed listing for all those showing at the Mall Galleries in 2009 on the website Mall Galleries - Call for Entries 2009. This also includes details of other national art societies not affiliated to the FBA and some of the major art competitions which also show at the Mall Galleries.

My dog-eared copy of the 2009 Call for Entries Leaflet
- details are also available online

Dates and deadlines: One of the bonuses of art societies affiliated to the FBA is that details of their open exhibitions are always printed for wide circulation - details are always known well in advance and are now also available online (via a pdf file) for all exhibitions through to the end of 2009. I guess that's partly why they tend to attract a large number of submissions - and associated fees - which of course are always so important to the finances of any art society!

I find it difficult to understand at times why it takes so long for some of the other art societies to announce dates and details of submissions. My perspective on this is influenced by the fact that most serious artists I know who submit work to societies and art competitions tend to work to an annual calendar so that they can plan their work and exhibition submissions. Most actually start producing work well in advance of the dates when details are actually announced. Which is fine if criteria and dates are the same year after year and is very definitely not if they change! In my view, any exhibition by a national or major regional art society which seeks work from professional as well as amateur artists needs to take a lead from the FBA and to announce details of dates and submission criteria a good six months (or more) in advance of deadlines for entries.

Major changes: There have been some major changes to the normal schedule of exhibitons at the Mall Galleries and some exhibitions have moved months. For example, if you're used to seeing the Pastel Society exhibition in March, you need to know it's now showing in June! UKCPS have also changed their criteria for submissions in 2009. Details to be announced shortly.

Major Open Exhibitions in 2009

Here is a list of major open exhibitions - ordered by the date of submission. I've included the exhibitions at the beginning of the year even though the deadline has passed as the exhibitions are current or imminent.
For all FBA member shows or administered by the FBA:
  • the call for entries, eligibility criteria for all submissions and details of how to submit for the the FBA shows plus certain others administered by the FBA are all available right now in Mall Galleries - Call for Entries 2009.
  • The registration form (submitted with all framed works) and labels are available in the Registration Pack which is available to download as a pdf file. You can also obtain both sets of documents by writing to the FBA.
This is a big improvement in communication about administrative facts and forms compared to previous years.

If there's one thing I'd like to see now it would be a rolling 12 month calendar (as a pdf file) providing all the details of dates and deadlines for future shows which gets updated on a monthly basis.

I'm sure people will remind me if I've forgotten to include any leading art society from the list - I'm well aware my listing is somewhat London-centric! :)

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