In September I blogged about the Birmingham ArtsFest Weekend and about the great experience I had exhibiting there. ArtFest takes over the city centre with music events and visual arts exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations.
I particularly like the way the event takes over the council buildings, on the Friday afternoon the buildings are used for conducting council business and as the meetings are finishing the artists take over installing their work on the walls, During the weekend the buildings take on a new atmosphere inviting citizens in to chambers and hallowed rooms that very few would normally see and then its all over by 5pm on Sunday afternoon. Large crowds of people descend on the city and generally there’s that late summer sunshine outside to set the scene off just right. Additionally its great to network with other artists and compare notes.
So why am I not going this September? Last night I began my application to apply for a space and I found that this year there is a payable fee for the stand of either £130 or £200 depending on the size of the space, in the past there has been a payable commission on sales, although I don’t think any of the artist achieved great sales. The council has decided that if they can get the commission fee up front this will guarantee the income.
At last years event the famous credit crunch was just beginning to impact and there was very few sales taken. On the RBSA stand they were selling off small items for boot sale prices, but generally in the Art Space area there were no sales on the day. Lots of interest from people looking at the work but no one seemed to have the odd £300 to spend on artwork in their pockets.
Artfest to me should be a platform for all forms of art. Alongside the small affordable craft pieces there should for example be extra large canvases that would never sell in this environment. A commercial success should not be the criteria and all forms of art should be available to the visitors. Birmingham City Council should be doing everything possible to promote the small businesses that make up the arts sector in the city and not imposing an unrealistic charge for this event