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Building networks for artists

 26 October 2012

Chris Brown, Development Officer at Cardiff's g39 gallery, spoke about how their drop-in sessions for artists are helping creatives to find work and develop business skills.

Supporting artists in their practice

"What we've been trying to do at the g39 gallery in Cardiff over the last few years is set up a peer review sort of environment.

"Artists can bring us their work, or any obstacles they've encountered in their practice."

"Artists can bring us their work, their problems, or any obstacles they've encountered in their practice. They can also just bring any general questions or requests for advice.

"The idea is that they can come and have a very informal half-hour discussion with us."

Building practical networking skills

"Firstly, that first visit acts, initially, as a portfolio session, where we can talk about an artist's work. That's one thing that every artist needs and really misses after college.

"Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is a whole range of problems and issues surrounding an artist's practice. 

"For example, we advise on:

  • keeping accounts
  • becoming self-employed
  • finding a studio
  • networking with other artists
  • where to find opportunities. 

"Often the very practical advice, and the support artists actually need, isn't really all that clear when they graduate."

Developing artists' business skills

"One thing I also think is important is educating people about how you operate as an artist, and then providing them with the skills to actually do that. It can be quite a hand-holding experience.

"An artist once came to us who had recently graduated from an MA course in Cardiff. She had had a number of shows, but only to limited success. Her shows were also limited, geographically speaking, to galleries in Wales. Mainly the shows had been sourced through her networks and her contacts.

"It's important to educate people about how you operate as an artist, and then provide them with the skills to actually do that."

"So we went away after speaking to her, and looked into how other artists in the UK operate in a commercial setup. We brought back a whole range of approaches that she might want to consider.

For example, trying to find a suitable market by visiting art fairs as a practitioner, and gauging the market that way. We came up with ways to find other suitable or sympathetic galleries, collectives, dealers, that kind of thing. We were then able to provide a whole raft of advice surrounding that specific area.

"That's sometimes the more engaging area of our work: that we deal with artists through advice and support."

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