Local artists’ fury at exhibition charges

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Local artists have voiced their discontent at plans to charge them for displaying their work at an upcoming exhibition.

The Your Place exhibition at the ‘Inspired by...’ Gallery in the Danby Moors Centre, which is described by its organisers, the North York Moors National Park Authority, as an opportunity for ‘artists who live in or around, or have a strong connection to the North York Moors, to showcase their work’ is charging local artists for the privilege.

Ann Bowes, an amateur photographer from Glaisdale, is outraged by the proposed charges.

She said: “When I first read about the Your Place exhibition, I thought that it was fantastic that the National Park Authority was doing something for the local people.

“However, having downloaded the entry form, I discovered that artists were required to pay £50 up front and then 15% commission on anything that they exhibited which they managed to sell.

“This is despite the fact that national park have been awarded an £8,000 Arts Council grant to sponsor this and one other exhibition.

“I was absolutely furious when I read that they were expecting us to pay to exhibit our work. It would have been bad enough expecting us to pay that much even if they hadn’t received that grant. If they have to charge the local artists then it makes you wonder what they are spending the £8000 on.”

Ms Bowes had initially planned to exhibit her work at the Your Place exhibition but having discovered that she was required to pay £50 for the privilege, she has decided against doing so.

Having contacted a number of her fellow local artists, Ms Bowes warns that she is far from being the only potential exhibitor who will be withholding their work from the event.

She added: “I have spoken to a number of local artists and they are just as angry about the situation as I am.

“I had planned to take part in the exhibition but there is no way I will be paying £50 to do so. The artists that I have spoken to feel exactly the same. Some of them are not willing to pay the £50 and some of them simply cannot afford to pay it.

“You expect to have to pay commission to exhibit your work and I don’t object to that, but charging us £50 for a metre wide space on one strip of wall is not on.

“I thought that the idea of the exhibition was to support local artists, not to try and make money out of them.”

Ian Whisker, another photographer from the local area, echoed Ms Bowes’ disappointment.

He said: “I think it is disgusting that the National Park Authority are trying to charge so much. They have the funding and they talk about promoting local artists so they ought to be giving us a fighting chance.

“I’ve exhibited my photographs before, and the amount that you usually make would more often that not not even cover the £50 charge.

“If they were to charge people who are not from the area to exhibit their work then I could understand that but I think it is poor charging the local artists.”

Rachel McIntosh, communications officer for the North York Moors National Park Authority, issued the following statement: “The cost of running the two exhibitions in terms of staffing, administration and marketing will run to much more than the Arts Council grant.

“The National Park Authority is also making a significant contribution, but in order to tell as wide an audience as possible about the Your Place exhibition and therefore generate increased exposure for the artists involved, we are charging £50 towards staging and promoting the event.

“The level of commission for the Your Place exhibition is significantly lower than our standard commission rate of 35% which is in turn very competitive with other galleries who often charge 50% or higher.

“At four weeks (in duration), the exhibition is double the standard length of our exhibitions during the high season and if an artist sells a piece, it can be replaced, giving the opportunity to generate multiple sales.”