Creating an Exhibition Proposal Package

Your group is bubbling with excitement! You have an exhibit title and great work that is ready to hang. You’re ready to take the next step. Pitching your exhibit to a venue is NOT as hard as you think.

Putting together an exhibition proposal package can be a rewarding experience. It forces you to focus on the important details of your show and present them in pleasing packing.  Your proposal will meet more success, if you call ahead and ask to make an appointment to see the gallery director. During the call make a few inquiries about how exhibitions are selected, how far ahead they are booked, and when they review proposals. Some places may prefer color copies of the images, others may want slides. Some will look at representative samples of artists work while other may require a look at the actual pieces in the show.  

What’s in a proposal package? 

  • Exhibition Proposal
  • Images in the form of color copies of the group’s portfolio pages in a nice portfolio if the venue wants samples of the artists work
  • A set of labeled slides of the actual works in the show. Some venues may accept digital images on a CD.
  • Cover Letter on Letterhead
  • Publicity your group has received from other exhibitions (postcards, newspaper clippings etc)
  • Artist/Slide List includes the pertinent info about each slide ( artist, title dimensions and , price)
  • Membership brochure
  • Business card of the  contact person

Let’s start with the exhibition proposal. Use official stationary and a clean font like Arial. You will need to spell out in the proposal the parameters of the exhibit. Group the information under headings.  

The Exhibit
I like to start with a brief description of the show. For example
Color Odyssey is a regional exhibition of art quilts. These 32 works are an made of fabric but meant to be viewed as art” 

Vision Statement 
The heart of the proposal package is the hardest part, the Vision Statement. What are you trying to accomplish with the show? Why are you doing it? 
“The organizers of Color Odyssey are mounting this show to increase the awareness of the public about the medium of the art quilt, and to provide exposure on a regional level for the artists.
 

The Artists
Provide a blurb about the artists and a list
“Our group, composed of mixed of self taught and students of fine art, uses fabric and stitchery to create one of a kind original works of art.  

Now comes the nitty gritty. In these sections you will want to explain fully but succinctly some important info that the curator needs to make a decision. 
 
Installation
Describe the physical space needed to house the exhibit and if you will hand deliver or if you will be shipping the show to them. This will depend on the type of venue. For example
“The exhibit will consist of x# of works under XX” wide. All works will ready to hand with sleeves and hanging slats. The 32 pieces require approximately xxx linear running feet unless hung salon style. The exhibit must be presented in its entirety. We will hand deliver and can hang the show ourselves if you wish”

Images
Tell what types of images are included. For example
“Enclosed are 32 slides and slide list” or “Enclosed is our group portfolio of representative pieces. If you would like slides please contact XYZ” Available dates
Explain your scheduling, example
“Exhibition slots from April 2004 through Dec 2005  are currently available. We are willing to help all interested venues find a slot that fits their needs. Venues are encouraged to book early for the widest selection of time slots. Contact  XYZ at xxx-xxx-4443 for more information.
Insurance
Tell them if you carry your own insurance
“Insured by QRS Insurance” or “Venue will insure items while in their possession”
 
Shipping
If shipping discuss who will pay for shipping and insurance in transit
 
“Venue will pay for shipping to the next venue or back to the organizers as required. 

Fee
Some traveling shows charge a fee for booking anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand.  An example
“The rental fee is o $xxx for venues The organizers of Color Odyssey will insure  the show (art works and mounts) during the traveling period. Exhibitors must provide insurance for the show for the duration of their possession of the works” 

The Jurors
If your show is juried give a bio of the juror here
 
“Juror PIV is blah blah blah”
 
Contact Info
Make sure to include all the pertinent contact info
“Contact XYZ at XXX_XXX_####, email@email.com  Add to the package

  • Images in the form of color copies of the group’s portfolio pages in a nice portfolio if the venue wants samples of the artists work
  • Or a set of labeled slides of the actual works in the show with a slide/artist  list
  • Cover Letter on Letterhead
  • Publicity your group has received from other exhibitions (postcards, newspaper clippings etc)
  • Artist/Slide List includes the pertinent info about each slide ( artist, title dimensions and , price)
  • Membership brochure
  • Business card of the contact person

Exhibitions are often booked up to 2 years ahead. Some venues review portfolios on an on-going basis; others have set dates during the year in which they choose from exhibition proposals. Museum curators and gallery personnel are often very busy creatures. If they can’t see you, ask if you can drop off your proposal package. If they do agree to meet with you, wear a smile, look professional and present your materials with pride. Often bringing in a few pieces of the actual work will get the director to take more interest in an exhibit. Make sure you follow up with a phone call later to find out their decision.  
GOOD LUCK and may all your exhibitions come true!
 

10 Responses to “Creating an Exhibition Proposal Package”

  1. John Smith Says:

    Nice, but I think it is sometimes not enough to get it complete.

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