I wanted to address the decision to add a fee to the open call. It was a difficult decision. Ultimately the decision to have a fee was made to support the costs associated with running the podcast and website. If I didn't have a fee I wouldn't be able to provide a platform that shares your work.
I am an artist too so I totally understand not wanting to sink more money into what you feel may or may not pay off. After running an artist collective and this space I've discovered that I prefer to pay a fee to keep certain indie spaces running. That being said it is up to YOU to make the decision of if you want to invest or not. I know there are scam spaces that take your money and you never hear from them (I am not one of them!) I try to share your work in any way I can imagine. That is why I created the Studio Visit Blog and share applicants' work on our social media.
I am happy to say that artists have told me that they have received opportunities from being highlighted here. I have also discovered new artists that I have in mind for future curatorial projects and interviews.
Kate Mothes of Young Space does a great job articulating many of my feelings on fees. Here is an excerpt from her blog:
"You’ve probably heard the phrase “pay to play,” or maybe you’ve seen one of art critic Jerry Saltz’s “artists should never pay” proclamatory tweets. “It’s a scam,” he writes. And you might be nodding your head vigorously, because you’re sitting there in your bedroom, which is also your studio, trying to make artwork after a long commuter schlep to your full-time job, running errands, attending art openings, and you’re basically broke all the time. You already have to purchase all the materials, not to mention pay rent, as well as invest real-time in what you’re creating. And then there’s the part where you want people to actually see it. Why on earth should you have to pay for that?
You’re not wrong to feel this way. It’s frustrating. But it’s also not helpful (for you, most of all), especially on principle, to totally dismiss opportunities that require a small fee. Sometimes those fees are what keeps small projects afloat–the exact project you value enough to apply to. So there’s one key thing to keep in mind: not all “open call” opportunities are created equal.
Just like there are numerous genres of art and countless ways to go about sharing it, there are also countless ways that everyone from independent curators to successful commercial galleries go about finding artwork and exhibiting it, and they often fall under the “pay-to-play” category. It’s hard to bite the bullet, or know which calls to participate in, when there are so many options and you often have any idea how that money is used. And when your work is not accepted, it can feel like you threw it away. This is why I urge you to educate yourself and find opportunities that fit your work, and that you feel good about. Even if your work is not accepted for that particular opportunity, if you apply well, your work will still go in front of industry eyeballs. Do your research, and weigh the value of the fee and the time it takes you to prepare the submission.
The resources and tools that, for example, an established institution has accumulated, through years of fundraising (aka. “development”) are completely different from artist-run spaces or DIY curatorial projects. And the artist-run initiatives and the DIYers out there often rely on what I think of, not as pay-to-play, but as old-fashioned arts crowdfunding. When you look at it that way, it starts to feel a little less scammy. But it means you have to take responsibility, as an artist, for knowing what’s worth it–and what’s actually kinda scammy. It’s not hard to pick out where your money is best put: an Instagram account charging you $10 per post in the hope that you’ll get a few new followers, or an exhibition or publication opportunity charging $30 to get your work in front of art world professionals, with the possibility of further collaboration.
Below are some thoughts and tips for approaching open calls. If I’ve missed anything, or you have something to add, please comment!