Friday, August 20, 2010

Confusing terminology re online submission for RWA Autumn Exhibition

The Royal West of England Academy (RWA) has issued its Call for Entries for its 158th Autumn Exhibition due to be held between 24th October and 12th December 2010.  500 works will be on display, most of which will be for sale.  Prizes include over £1000 cash, exhibiting opportunities and a major editorial feature in Venue.
The Royal West of England Academy has two open exhibitions a year. The first is an exhibition rotating the disciplines of sculpture, painting, photography and printmaking. It attracts contemporary artists both nationally and internationally. The second open exhibition, which is held annually, is the Autumn Exhibition. It has been in existence for over 150 years, the 157th being the most recent. The Autumn Exhibition is a mixed discipline exhibition, including painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture and architecture. It attracts artists both regionally and nationally.
RWA website - Open Exhibitions
Eligible work and selection process

Up to three works can be submitted.  Work from painters, scultors, photographers, printmakers and architects is selected by a panel from an open submission.

Some may think, as I have in the past that the RWA only accepts work from people living in the west of England.  However this is not so.  I cannot find any constraint on where you live or work.

Works for exhibition are chosen from the artwork which is submitted and hung by a panel of Academicians (appointed by the RWA Council), whose decision is final and binding. The selection panel changes yearly and open submissions are judged anonymously.

How to submit work

Manual Submission packs have been available from Monday 19 July. Discounts on fees are available for RWA Friends.

All "online submissions" attract a reduced fee and must be complete by 9am on 16th September - but see my comments below.

The following are all pdf files relating to entry terms and conditions and transport arrangements.
The RWA states that you can now "submit work online" by which I guess they actually mean "register your work online". In other words, you don't submit your work online for selection, you still have to submit the artwork in person!
The RWA is now offering the chance to submit artworks for all open exhibitions online. If you choose to submit in this way it will be significantly cheaper, and quicker.

This process is simple:
Submit online!
  •  Go to the link via the red 'Online Submission' button (you need to go to the website to do this)
  •  Create an artist profile
  •  Submit details of your works
  •  Pay online for less
  •  Bring your works in on hand-in day and be fast-tracked through the process
  •  Receive your results quicker via email
(1) Is it "significantly cheaper" as advertised and
(2) Can you actually submit work online?

Online submissions this year are (£14 for RWA Friends) and manual submissions are £18 so you save £2 per work by submitting online.

HOWEVER The online submission wholly relates to the details of the artist and artwork and does NOT include the submission of a digital file of artwork for the selection process, which is what most Exhibitions usually mean these days when they advertise that you "submit work online.  This is CONFUSING.  "Submit the paperwork online" or "Register your artwork and details online" would be a much more accurate characterisation of the process.

The most significant costs of entry for most artists are very often the transport costs rather than the entry fees.  That's why online submission can represent such a significant saving to eliminate work which won't even make the long list.

Consequently I'm not sure I'd characterise the online submission offering by the RWA as being significantly cheaper given that people still need to submit their artwork manually.

I'd personally ALWAYS reserve the phrase "significantly cheaper" for a selection processes where the selection of a longlist is also made online and/or transport costs are much reduced. Otherwise "reducated rate" is a much more appropriate description.

Handing In Artwork
Works should arrive unwrapped, although fragile work may be wrapped in a way that does not obscure the image during selection.  All fixtures must be removed from the back of the frames as remaining fixtures are one of the primary sources of damage to artworks.
Entry Regulations (pdf)
Handing In Dates:
  • RWA: 16, 17, 18 September
  • Regional Handing in Dates: London: 13 September | Birmingham: 14 September | Penzance: 14 September | Exeter: 15 September
A greener option?

In an era where we are all trying to be greener, saving unnecessary journeys is about more than regional handing in points and it would be extremely helpful if ALL Exhibition Organisers could also give this some thought.

My personal view is that there are a number of works submitted which are never going to get selected.  In my opinion, an initial round of selection via digital file to produce a longlist for selection from the artwork to get to a shortlist for hanging should be seriously considered as an alternative option. 

The benefits are
  • no compromise on making sure the selection panel sees a work before selecting it for hanging.  
  • delivers very considerable saving to an artist whose work is not selected in terms of transport and often framing costs.  
  • also delivers carbon reduction in terms of environmental costs.
Maybe next year?


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