“Hello there! Came across your work in curatorial googling. We have a couple of call-to-artist exhibits that your work may be a fit for.”
That’s an email San Diego artists Bob Jones recently got in his inbox. The exhibitions required $20 entry fees each. Jones said he gets email offers like that all the time. He said that almost every show that comes with a price tag attached is a scam.
His take is shared by many other local artists who weighed in on the ongoing pay-to-play debate after I posted a question about it on Facebook last week.
“The whole pay-to-play scheme is just that, a scheme to get participation fees, jury fees, submission fees, entry fees, whatever up front money they can squeeeeeze the artist for under the guise of ‘well-known curators,'” wrote artist Justin Allen.
But not all pay-to-play exhibitions are created equal, argues artist and art collector John Purlia. He said the fees are often used to pay for marketing, space and other costs associated with putting on art shows.
“Paying a submission fee for juried exhibitions is fine as long as the fee goes to furthering the cause of the gallery or event,” he wrote. “It’s a good way to limit the number of entries (often, quite high anyway) and provide funding for the exhibition.”