Are you planning an exhibition for the first time? Look no further! Artscape has hosted hundreds of art exhibitions across our venues and we often work with artists who are hosting their first exhibition and don’t know where to start. I turned to my colleague and expert Naia Wang, Assistant Manager of Galleries and Exhibitions, for her checklist for planning a successful exhibition. I also added a few tips and tricks from a logistics perspective.
Once you have narrowed down a few potential locations for your exhibition, ensure you book a tour, either in-person or virtual, of each space a few months prior to your show. This will allow you to decide if this space aligns with the vision you have for your exhibition and give you an opportunity to meet the owners/managers of the space. A tour will give you an idea of what is available and your responsibilities while in the space.
☐ Floor Plan
After the virtual or in-person tour, request a copy of the floor plan with dimensions. A great resource to help you build your floor plan is through a free program called AllSeated. AllSeated has stayed up to date with the changing state of the event industry by adding new features like Social Distancing and Null Zones. Social Distancing allows you to arrange seating and tables within the 6ft distance guidelines.
☐ Confirm Dates
Once you have narrowed your search for a venue, confirm the following dates:
☐ Install (when do you have access to the space for installation):
☐ Uninstall (what date and time do you need to be out of the space):
☐ Events (Reception, Tours, Talks, Workshop, etc.):
☐ Exhibition/Event Contract
Congratulations, you’ve found a space! Now before you dive into planning, ensure you sign a contract with the gallery and/or space you are renting from. Be sure to review what is and is not included such as storage space and insurance (tip: always a good idea to purchase insurance!). Confirm that all of your preferred dates are in the final contract as well as any special requirements that you agreed on in person or over email.
☐ Review Contract (ensure nothing is missing)
☐ Sign Contract
☐ Pay a Deposit
Before you start the promotion of your exhibition, ensure you have paid a deposit (this is usually 50% of the venue rental fee) to secure the date and space. Be sure to obtain a receipt of your payment or proof that you paid a deposit.
☐ Create a full scope of your exhibition
The full scope includes: all important dates, timing of the event/gallery hours, the number of attendees, food/beverage/catering information, alcohol, furniture requirements, audio-visual equipment, etc.
If you are having trouble envisioning your exhibition, start by creating an itinerary of the day. Two weeks prior to the exhibition put together a checklist of items to bring on the day of.
Confirm with your venue if there are any waivers that must be signed prior to your booking date (e.g. ladder, keys/room access)
☐ Certificate of Insurance
Confirm if the gallery and/or venue requires a Certificate of Insurance. If you are looking for event insurance in Canada you can contact Duuo or Pal Insurance Broker Canada
☐ Promote! Send Marketing Collateral for website/social media
This can include any promotional graphics, hashtags for social media, etc.
☐ Pay the outstanding Balance of your venue rental
This is usually ten days prior to your booking start date.
☐ Day of Exhibition Installation
Be sure to reference your checklist when packing your vehicle.
☐ Day of Reception
If you are having a large exhibition, print out a guest list or prepare to collect emails.
This checklist, along with some tips and tricks, will help you in planning a successful exhibition!
Oh and do not forget to send thank you notes to all those involved, networking is a major key!
Brittany Lynn, "Checklist for planning a successful exhibition," Naia Wang, Assistant Manager , Galleries and Exhibitions, 2020-05-27