Learnings from a venue hunt – regional group Europe

One of our aims as a newly founded regional group is to get together at least once a year in a physical location for 1-2 days (visits, workshop, making, connecting, socialising)

I took over the role to find possible venues in Switzerland, the country where our core team resides and travelling across Switzerland, I learned quite a lot, not only in getting information, but also in talking with people explaining our reasons for and how to present us as a group. And for me as an artist in facing the public side of an art world.

Couple of bullet points I find interesting to note down, at times rather questions than answers:

  • Complexity: I screened all sorts of venues, simple rooms (why not at home of a member?) and more complex programs like Creavia/Paul Klee museum in Bern.
  • Group: Do we want to make a team effort? A facilitated team workshop? Eventually, I came up with four options: a) study visit without a room, b) a rented room, c) team workshop with professional facilitation, d) all inclusive ‘vacation’ study package
  • Expenses: I was aware that Switzerland is a more expensive country (but possibly similar to UK), and expenses between room rent and more inclusive programs challenged me in keeping all wide open and to ask later the group what would be more attractive. A question between content and cost.
  • Identity and presentation: People asking who we are: How to present us as group? Why do we want to rent a venue? Do we have an identity? Besides naming OCA / UCA. What is our mission? At times I handed over my personal artist card as some where asking for tactile information – or sharing the OCA address
  • Connection: I really made good connection, talked with established artists whether they would be available for a talk, with gallery owners, with museum staff. All gave me personally more insight in the art world – and understanding that there is much more to connect with, especially with fewer and at a deeper level. I still have some contact points open to talk with (colleges, community centers). Exiting to see how it all will evolve. I even made more contact for my own art projects and possible options for future projects.
  • Exhibition: Although not in the short term plan for our group and more out of my personal interest I contacted some venues that we more used for exhibitions, eg. a pop-up gallery in an empty store. At times, I was astonished what people ask artists to pay just to show their work. Fix costs without even being there. A commercial approach for making money (for those who earn). Key learnings: to get into more established galleries as a group one need to plan 2-3 years in advance. Therefore, it would be good to think and prepare internally for the future (like OCA TVG did for their gallery show ‘Time’)

Overall, a time and energy demanding activity done within one week (with subsequent email and telephone conversations) but quite worth the experience. I need more input and focused clarity what we want as a group to move forward. The above mentioned options to be voted on. How much OCASA is willing to fund need to be discussed separately.

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  • Feb 27,2019 at 12:39 PM

    Gosh . impressive effort – but great to see how you take it as a first step toward your own practise too. Which it is, I think. I was part of the Copenhagen study trip group (not an organizer though) – and we meet at several museums where we booked and OCA payed for the tour and/or tuition. My experience was that tours in the museum exhibit are fine to pay for – but the ‘art guides’ were not up to our OCA standard (at least in DK they are the art-students on the job seemed more tuned to a general public with no previous knowledge).
    However we had a tutor (Bryan) with us which greatly improved the ‘workshop’ experience in the museum. But I suspect that getting the room one had to pay for the tuition as well. But making as response to museum visit was lovely.and definitely a thing that I struggle to achieve on my own (often with family when at museums). Exciting prospects – It feels very good to know this is in your competent hands.

    • Stefan
      Feb 28,2019 at 6:47 AM

      You are flattering me, Inger. Thanks for your insight in Copenhagen visit. Had just placed a question to Joanne re room rent. I fully agree with the energy boost within a physical active group – feel it all the time when spending time on art and visits with others . For me it is all learning – and even if I behind schedule on my coursework I found that I learn a lot for how to move ahead as an artist besides coursework – better to learn at level 2 than pushing at level 3.

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