Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to calculate the cost of entering a juried art exhibition

Have you ever sat down and really analysed how much it really costs to enter a juried art competition or open exhibition?

If you have then probably, like me, you may have had a bit of a shock.  Here are some of the reasons why the costs can mount up without you noticing and why it can be so expensive:
  • you're paying entry fees AND commission on sales
  • you're not submitting to a local gallery and it's not a short local drive in the car.  You've often got to get the artwork to a place a long way from home. This involves packing costs and shipping/travel costs which you don't normally have to pay - often both ways if the work is not accepted or doesn't sell.
  • the competition isn't from your locality - it's often national or international and there's hundreds if not thousands of people all competing to get their artwork into the exhibition
  • this exhibition is prestigious and the artwork needs a frame which looks good - and unless you've worked out to keep a handle on costs that can be expensive
There's only one thing worse than a nasty shock after you've worked through the numbers - and that's a nasty shock because you didn't work through the numbers!

I started working out the costs when I needed to work out a price for my work.  I didn't mind making only a little money if the work sold - I understood that juried exhibitions are often much more about marketing and building a following then they are about selling per se.  However I did object to making a loss!  Bear in mind that I also don't have the same transport/travel costs as other people as I already live in London.

It really made me start paying attention to pricing and to the scope to manage costs (eg buying frames which were standard sizes rather than custom made so that they can be reused with the mats custom made - by me).  Setting the costs out on paper helped me to focus on what costs could be better managed, what costs could be eliminated and what costs you just had to take on the chin.

A spreadsheet for calculating the costs of entering a juried exhibition

I've created a spreadsheet to help artists calculate the real cost of entering a juried art competition or open exhibition

A Making A Mark Guide: Analysing the cost of entering a juried art exhibition - is available from my website.  The spreadsheet automatically summarises costs and produces overall totals and net cost or profit.

Analysing the cost of entering a juried art exhibition - Practice Worksheet
If you enter your personal cost data (or estimates) based on experience or research - in the green column - it tells you
  • the costs of entering a juried exhibition - and how much you're spending on 'marketing' your work if it doesn't sell
  • the net gain if you sell the work 
It includes
  • a proforma template (yellow tab) which you can tailor to your own needs if you know how to use Excel.  Just copy the whole sheet over to a new sheet to start a calculation.
  • a worked example for a work which sold (blue tab)- gives you the net gain on which taxes are payable
  • a worked example for a work which did NOT sell (red tab) - to give to you the total potential cost of 
    • NOT submitting your best work 
    • and/or NOT making a realistic assessment of your chances of getting work accepted
  • a practice worksheet (green tab) which you can use again and again just be eliminating the data in the "enter data" column

Don't worry if you make a mess of it - you can always download it again!

If you're used to using spreadsheets, you should find it fairly self-explanatory.  Your cost data is entered in the green column in the practice sheet and the summary costs are then calculated automatically.

Do please let me know if you have any queries

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