Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NEW two-stage digital pre-selection process for FBA Exhibitions

A new submission and selection process for FBA Art Societies with Annual Exhibitions at the Mall Galleries is being introduced from 1st November.  This should cut costs for some artists in the future.

Receiving day at FBA Offices in Carlton House Terrace
One of the perennial complaints I hear from artists in the UK is about how they would very much like to submit work to the Annual Exhibitions of the national art societies based at the Mall Galleries BUT  that they are deterred by the significant costs involved in framing and transporting artwork which might be rejected.

In future, the costs incurred by many of those having to deliver work to London in response to a Call for Entries from one of the major art societies in the UK may well be reduced - at least for those who are unsuccessful in having their work selected.

The new process will also
  • greatly reduce time spent on travelling for a number of people. 
  • reduce the costs for the art societies and those involved with organising the exhibitions - which in turn should keep entry fees from rising in future.
  • address the problem of access to FBS offices in Carlton House Terrace during the Olympics.
The Mall Galleries and FBA Offices are located on the edge of an Olympic Zone (lots of activities in Horseguards Parade!).  The Galleries are expecting major traffic restrictions in a large area around St James and the Mall before, during and after the Olympic and Paralympic Games (6 June - 30 September 2012).  As a result they expect that arrangements for delivery, collection, parking and visits to the offices and Gallery may be disrupted during this period.

Frankly there's not a lot that the FBA can do about this - as nobody is going to move the Olympic site to let artists deliver pictures!  However this new process will greatly reduce any frustration which may be experienced since it offers artists a way of avoiding this in the first instance.

Read on to find out more about the new process.
Call for Entries: the new FBA submission process

The Federation of British Artists is introducing a new submission and selection process for the Call for Entries of the various societies it serves.

The new stages are as follows:
  • Stage 1(a):  artists register their entry online, pat the fee and upload a digital image for the pre-selection stage.  Artists are advised by email as to whether or not their work has been pre-selected for
  • Stage 1(b): artists need to check online on the notification date to see whether their art has been pre-selected (make sure you have you registration number to hand!)
  • Stage 2: pre-selected work should be delivered to the Gallery on one of the Receiving Days (in the normal way).  Final selection will then take place.
However you can also submit your work in the normal way on Receiving Days - and incur costs pretty much as in the past.

There's no guarantee of being hung if pre-selected via the new process but your chances are much better than at the beginning of the process.  Making it much more worthwhile to incur costs on framing and transport.

Also those whose work would definitely not be hung have not had to participate in or incur the costs and time spent in delivering work at Stage 2.

To my mind one of the major advantages of this form of submission is that it provides great feedback about how near or far your work was from being hung.  It's a bit like getting a "d" on the back of the frame when you pick up a rejected work.  It got considered as a possible even if it didn't make the final selection.  As opposed to nothing at all which meant nobody considered it worthy of selection!

Here’s a summary of the pros and the cons for this new process - as I see it.  As you can see I’m very clear that the pros outweigh the cons!

  • FBA adopting new ‘standard’ for exhibition submissions
  • allows artist to see how near (or far) artwork is from being accepted by the Society
  • system allows up to three images for each entry - permits detail shots
  • reduces costs of transporting artist and artwork to London for work rejected at Stage 1
  • no need to frame if artwork not pre-selected for Stage 2 - reduces costs
  • reduces costs for organisers re reviewing / handling / storing artwork
  • very likely to increase no.of entries:
    • at Stage 1
    • from places not near to London
  • advance registration also allows you to pay fee online
  • artists still able to submit work in ‘old’  way this year
  • new process reduces difficulties in accessing FBA offices due to  Olympics
  • artists need to get to grips with processing artwork / digital submission
  • presents a challenge for artists without computer or digital camera
  • likely confusion re process and dates in first year

The essential details - dates

The digital pre-selection process starts on 1 November 2011 and applies to all exhibitions in 2012.

The call for entries page on the website now has some additional dates.  Below is an example for the Call for Entries of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours

Note that the digital submission closes BEFORE the Receiving Day.  The notification of pre-selection for Stage 2 follows a week after the deadline.  You then have two weeks to get your work framed and submitted to the FBA offices.  For people in the regions it may be less than this depending on the dates of regional pick-ups.
Registration & digital submission opens Tuesday 1 November 2011
Registration & digital submission closes Thursday 5 January 2012, 12pm
Notification of pre-selection posted on Thursday 12 January, 2012 (If pre-selected, please deliver your work(s) on the receiving days listed below).
Receiving Days: Friday 27 January & Saturday 28 January 2012, 10am-5pm Select this link for information on regional handing-in points.
Notification of acceptance posted on Thursday 2 February
The essential details - image

The website provides details of what sort of image should be submitted.  In summary:
  • The system will accept varying resolutions and image dimensions
  • Image files may be JPG (recommended) or PNG at no more than 4MB in size.
  • There should be no symbols (such as *'()?<>" etc.) in the filename of your image.
  • you may enter up to three images of each work to include detail shots.  I’d personally suggest
    • one complete image (without frame)
    • one complete image (with frame - if available)
    • one detail shot of focal point
I’ll be doing a couple of posts at a future date which tackle:
  • how to photograph your artwork and
  • how to process artwork for digital submission to get the best quality entry
Do send me any tips you might want to share with fellow artists - and I'll include the good ones and acknowledge the source and link to your blog or website.

The National Art Societies belonging to the FBA affected by this change in the process for submitting artwork are as follows

Tomorrow I’ll be posting my review of the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists which opens to the public on Thursday. I'm now off to take an early peek at it.

On Friday I’ll be outlining the dates for the FBS’s Call For Entries in 2012.


This is the content of the formal Press Release on this topic - issued 1st November
As of 1 November, artists can now submit to all FBA exhibitions at the Mall Galleries by uploading images of their work online for a pre-selection process.  This new process will save artists money on the cost of framing, insurance and transportation into central London.  Selectors will make an initial assessment of each work based on the digital images supplied then pre-selected artists will be invited to bring their work in for final judging by the selection committee.
The initiative has been launched to encourage more UK and regional-based artists to submit work to exhibitions at the Mall Galleries, making entry more affordable to a wider number of artists. 
The development of this process has resulted from feedback suggesting a growing reluctance by some artists to bear the costs of travelling in to central London.  Having trialled a digital pre-selection process in 2011, the Mall Galleries are confident their new pre-selection process will make applying to their open exhibitions more attractive and convenient to thousands more artists in the UK and abroad.
For artists without Internet access, all FBA exhibitions will also accept work handed in with standard registration forms as usual on receiving days throughout 2012.
Artists can register their work for FBA exhibitions online three months before the receiving days by going to
Mall Galleries has teamed up with Cass Art to offer all artists using the new digital pre-selection system £6 off when they spend £10 or more in Cass Art. (Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.)


David said...

Thanks Katherine, that's really useful to know. This is indeed excellent news! It should make submitting much easier and more cost effective. The 2 week window between pre-selection and hand-in means there's just enough time to get framing sorted if it hasn't been done prior to the online screening....providing I talk to my framer nicely :o) I will certainly see this as encouragement for wider submissions. ROI hand in is this weekend....just shy of the November 1st start date.

hj.frost said...

The broader adoption of digital preselection has a significant impact on framers. Their workload increases dramatically for a shorter period of time, since most artists will prefer to frame after the pre-selection results are issued and prior to the receiving days....You may wish to pre-book with your preferred framer.

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