It can be an exciting prospect when an artist or gallery has the opportunity to exhibit their work in a non-art venue rental basis. These can range from a wide audience including, the corporate & hospitality sector and stretching as far wide as the leisure and property development sector.

Alternative venues are becoming increasingly attractive for artists who are just starting out or who otherwise have not been able to get much gallery exposure. As businesses increasingly appreciate the benefits of displaying art for enhancing and improving their spaces, more and more alternative venues are becoming known for regularly showing art. The best of these venues feature consistent programs of regular shows and are known for their art rotations.

Here are some important factors to think about when considering this avenue of exhibiting.

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  • It is important to determine how long the art is required to be displayed for. Timescales can vary with art being rotated between any length of time from 3, 6 and 12-month rotations. Is there a notice period for removing a piece and how many days notice is required?
  • If you decide to showcase for the longer periods, ask whether it is okay to continue to promote your pieces on ongoing websites/galleries. Most clients are happy with this as long as a suitable replacement is sourced and installed within 10 days (should you sell a piece during the period) however we have come across projects where clients do not want any promotion at all outside the venue and only wish to promote solely through the users and visitors to the venue. This is also fine as we find in these instances the venue plays a more active role in promoting the pieces are for sale.
  • Ensure you obtain as much detail about the brief as possible. Talk with the venue or the team people in charge about what kind of art they think would appeal the most to their clientele.
  • As for displaying the art, if it is a hanging piece, then it is best that have your work hung off a hanging system. Most clients do not want to pay for repairing their walls after each rotation so it is worth the conversation to understand what type of wall you are hanging off and if systems are required, is the client prepared to pay for them?
  • The same applies for sculptures. If your pieces require plinths then in most cases the client will expect the sculptor to provide these at no cost to the client.
  • Lighting is particularly important when exhibiting your work in a non exhibition environment. Highlighting art with good lighting will naturally draw viewers attention. You don’t want your art on display in darkened areas, narrow hallways, up near the ceiling or in places where it competes for attention with too many other furnishings or decorative objects.
  • Installation costs, delivery of pieces whether your paying for a courier or delivery company or driving and installing yourself, these costs add up so it’s important to bear these in mind.
  • Are there any other associated costs involved such as admin costs, or costs for showcasing at the venue.
  • Insurance costs. Again, this is another important factor to consider and touch on. In most cases, the venue accepts no responsibility for the safekeeping of the artworks whilst they are being showcased so it is important the artist procures adequate and appropriate insurance to protect the work. If you are showcasing your work in a non-art venue through a gallery then it is important to ask whether the gallery will insure your work for the showcase period.
  • If your sculpture or painting falls and damages their property, ensure your insurances cover this liability, as it will be your cost to repair.
  • Ensure you are personally happy with the venue and satisfied with the level of security.
  • It is important to ensure that your contact details are on full display, preferably next to each artwork and also at the front desk and seating areas. Ensure that you leave business cards or leaflets clearly visible and accessible should anyone who’s interested in learning more about you can take away with them.
  • You want the fact that your pieces are for sale to be clear to anyone who looks at it as you don’t want the art to look like it belongs to the premises/business so ask how much information you can leave with the art. Whether it is a hanging piece or sculpture ask whether signage can be installed and ask whether the price of pieces can be displayed. If this is not possible then ask whether you can display ‘for any sales enquiries please contact’ on the sign. There are mixed feelings about this so be sure to ask the question.
  • Ask about previous sales and enquiries and determine to what extent you are allowed to exploit your work. For example, you could ask whether you can hold an event during the course of the consignment period where you can invite collectors, friends, acquaintances, potential buyers and other interested parties. You could ask the building to announce any such events by email, which would also be attractive, and an added value to the building users to attend to.
  • Ensure that you ask that any feedback is fed back to you, whether good or bad.
  • Ask whether any commission is to be paid if any of your artwork sells or any commissions arise whilst showcasing through the venue.
  • Regardless of the specifics, you should seriously consider taking advantage of the opportunity especially if you have plenty of other art in storage or are currently getting little or no other public exposure for your work.
  • Finally, enjoy and promote your exhibition of work. Social media is a powerful tool so talk about it. Your work will be visible and will reach out to a far broader audience reaching new avenues.