Why do galleries charge a fee to exhibit?

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

I have had the pleasure of running my own gallery in the South Norwood SE25 the place where I was born and bred.

A little over two years ago I was fortunate enough to be in a position to open a contemporary art gallery and serve the community that shaped and moulded me. It had always been a dream of mine to have my own gallery one day so I have ticked that box.

I am an artist and have exhibited many times in the UK and abroad. I had no experience of running an art gallery, laying on group exhibitions, coordinating groups of artists so everything runs smoothly, the endless hours of updates, social media and advertising etc. I just knew of my own experiences and how I would have liked things to go when I was a new / emerging artist. I too have had to pay fees to exhibit, plenty of times on one occasion I paid £500 for 1 week and 3m of wall space!

So why the fee?

We have costs involved such as: refreshments for the private views / launch night, advertising on social media, leaflet print costs, Utilities, invigilation, installation of the artwork, admin…..

Paying a fee also means you as artists will be committed to fulfilling your part in the exhibition: delivery of artwork in a timely manner and ensuring it is able to be displayed correctly in time for the private view.

Several times we have had artists say they will be part of the exhibition only to not turn up, pull out last minute (which means another artist has missed out).

If we include you as an artist in the build up and promotion of the exhibition and people travel to come and see your work and you have pulled out, you have inconvenienced potential buyers, collectors, art lovers that were interested in your work. It doesn’t reflect well on you or the gallery.

We do understand that things happen and at times cant be avoided! I guess, it’s how its handled.

At Elizabeth James Gallery the cost to exhibit is a reasonable £200 including vat for a 2 week group exhibition, the gallery takes 30% commission on sales.

We do not get any funding to run the gallery we are completely self funded and we work hard behind the scenes and love being part of such a thriving community gallery!


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