on not neglecting the business
Further notes on new and innovative models for thinking about increasing the sustainability of creative practice (on not neglecting the business)…
(further to an earlier post and in response to the conversations and presentations made at Thinking through the City’s first forum: Incubating Creativity)
One major problem in my mind with the gallery model of engaging with contemporary art, is the convention – appropriate when the main audience for a given show is the group of potential collector/investors, but in-appropriate in the case of much contemporary practice – of supplying free food and drink to all-comers. Openings are fun, and a good chance to catch up with friends, or to network, or to celebrate together the culmination of a lot of thinking, care and physical effort, but often they are packed wall-to-wall and the worse of occasions to get a real feel for the art itself, which may require solitude, or at least some space for a worthwhile engagement. It often strikes me as bizarre that it is taken for granted an artist will put up the time, labour and material cost to make the work, and then in effect, is also expected to pay (to otherwise entertain) their viewers.
This convention is a habit rather than a necessity I am sure, and one that several Artist Run Intitiatives (Feltspace and Format in Adelaide for example) are dispensing with, supplying wine and/or beer at a cost rather than handing it out. No one seems to mind.
There are other models too that combine different notions of sustainability with relaxing over a drink or meal, alongside an art experience:
Crate59 in Cairns supports emerging artists by sub-leasing a portion of the gallery space that fronts their complex of studios to an iconic local business ‘Billy’s Coffee’ (which shifts from its home at Rusty’s Markets weekly on the days the markets are closed). Great coffee and a rich mix of curated and high rotation artist run shows creates a relaxed and inviting way to spread the ‘opening’ out, to sustain and give a platform to a diversity of local artists and to extend the invitation to people that might not venture into a gallery otherwise – as their website says “Art + other = good”!