The New Norwich Art Fair!
July 16, 2012 § 6 Comments
And so it began…
The fantastic @HuwSayer tweeted me last week about an idea to start up an Art Fair in Norwich. (Isn’t Twitter great!!) This came at such a good time, as for a while I have been thinking Norwich needs this! He wrote a blog with thoughts on it too. Check it out – http://huwsayer.wordpress.com/2012/07/13/an-international-art-fair-for-norfolk-and-norwich-can-it-be-done-norwichartfair-please-retweet/
Some exhibition experience
I do have experience of putting on exhibitions for other artists and myself (I work part time as an artist, renting a studio at Muspole Workshops in Nowich). In 2010, I met an illustrator in Norwich through my then-housemate and together, we set up a not-for-profit organisation called Making Space. We organised exhibitions for local artists held at ‘non traditional venues’ around Norwich – cafes, pubs, business reception areas. The idea was to create links with local businesses, and for artists to find spaces to exhibit. We had found that before setting up Making Space, there is a lot of competition for exhibition spaces, a waiting list, or the rental rates could be very high. We would also promote and advertise each exhibition, keeping cost as low as possible. We also had a very popular website showcasing each artists’ work.
I really enjoyed being involved, especially organising and marketing each event. It also gave me a better confidence of showing my own artwork and I made some great contacts from it. I am however very aware of how much work is involved in putting on an event, so am under no illusion of how big the workload would be for the Norwich Art Fair!
A Fine City
Norfolk has a wealth of culture, including lots of extremely talented artists, as well as art buyers. Norwich is already on the UK culture scene – NUCA, Body Art Festival, UEA, Norwich Print fair, a thriving music scene, the recent UNESCO City of Literature, Norfolk & Norwich Festival – there is a lot of events that make Norwich the great city that it is.
An art fair is the next step and it now seems the right time to do one! There are many other affordable art fairs in the UK and it would be worth looking at how these are set up, I’m currently speaking to some people about how to go about this.
Some ideas I have for the fair, would be to hold it over a weekend at a big venue. St Andrews Hall for instance is a great venue, as it is city-centre based and has other major events held there with concerts, the body art festival and the CAMRA beer festival. This is also so we can get as many artists showing their work, and also so that lots of lovely art-buying people can attend! I can picture the fair becoming a major annual event. (fingers crossed!). As well as artists showing and selling work, we can also have gallery representatives hiring out a stand. It would be good to have the fair as an ‘affordable’ one so it doesn’t put punters off attending.
However, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. The main issue of course, is money. As I am not aware that any of us are millionaires, we would need sponsership – there are grants and sponsers out there. I have given thought to who we could approach, but don’t want to say who yet until I’ve spoken to Huw.
I would need someone involved who has experience of applying for sponsership, to help with what to say. It would require a lot of marketing and advertising – this can almost be a 24/7 thing – tweeting, website updates, radio interviews and of course articles and interviews in the local and national press. All this needs to be done, and personally, I would do it all the time if I could. I love social networks and anything marketing related. We would need banners, a website, display boards for each artists – the list goes on. When I’ve looked into renting display boards out before, they can be extremely expensive – and if we had 100+ artists exhibiting, the cost would be very high. Each artist could pay for their own space, but to also help keep costs down, we could also charge entry fees – this is standard for most art fairs anyway – even if it is just £2 a ticket, it all helps. It would also help as we would know how many people would be attending the fair. We can sell through a website, and get local shops to sell tickets too. There is also the matter of sorting public liability insurance – something I don’t know much about
Another idea I have had, is hold talks by artists, critics, agents and curators – some interesting speakers from the art industry, to make the fair as diverse and exciting as possible. I went to the Hay on Wye Festival a few years back with my father and Quentin Blake gave a talk about his work. It has always stuck in my mind, seeing such an incredible artist speaking. He did demonstrations, drawing his wonderful characters onto an overhead projector – he could draw one in a matter of seconds, bringing it to life. The art critic Ian Collins recently gave a fantastic talk at the Forum and of course John Hurt recently spoke at NUCA. We may not be able to get speakers like this (hey, I can dream!!), but you get the idea – a range of art folk would make the event even better!
So where next?
We have the ‘Tweetup’ this week – if you can attend that would be brilliant. Even if you are just interested in exhibiting your own art work at the fair, or if you represent a gallery, or if you have experience in putting on fairs, then pop along. We are meeting upstairs at the Sir Garnet Wolseley Pub, Thursday 19th July at 6pm – the address is 36 Market Place, Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1RD. – it is by the side of Norwich Market, opposite W H Smith. If you know anyone who might also be interested in attending, please pass this on – the more the merrier! It’ll be great to meet you all and start the art fair ball rolling!
Thanks for listening !