In the previous post, I described how I put together my packet for my exhibition proposals. So how do I find calls for proposals?
By the way, a "call for proposal" is a term used for a listing by a museum, gallery, art center, or art organization that is essentially "calling" or inviting artists to send them proposals for exhibitions. They will usually list pertinent details such as the deadline for the proposal, the location of the venue, requirements (open to all artists or maybe only artists from a specific geographic area), type of artwork they're looking for, time period of the exhibition, size of the venue, the materials that they will consider (slides, CD, etc), if insurance is provided, if there is a commission taken, fees or stipends paid to artists (sometimes they will pay for shipping if you're very lucky), address and contact information. Most do not charge a fee to review proposals but every now and then you'll see one that will (usually $20 or so).
Here's a sample call for proposal:
Deadline July 15, 2006
Community College of Shelbyville is reviewing proposals for solo or group (2 or 3 artists) exhibitions for the 2006-2007 season. Honorarium for lecture/workshop. Open to US artists. 2-D and 3-D work. No sales commission. Insurance. Send 20 labeled slides (or CD), resume, statement, contact info, and SASE to Community College of Shelbyville...
Art Calendar is a great resource for calls for proposals and calls for entries. It's a monthly publication that deals with the business of art, with great articles about photographing your artwork, marketing, and finding inspiration. The last 10 pages or so are listings of awards, conferences and trade shows, fairs and festivals, galleries and nonprofit spaces reviewing portfolios, grants, and juried shows.
The Art Deadlines list is another great resource. It's a monthly email that lists lots of calls for entries and calls for proposals. You can subscribe and receive a comprehensive list or just sign up for the smaller free list.
There's also Art Deadline, which I don't think has a free list...
You can also find a lot of great information on your state's art commission website. The one in Texas is called TCANet. They list lots of opportunities for artists, among other things.
I've also used the annual gallery guide from Art in America. It comes out every summer and it lists hundreds of galleries, museums, and art centers all over the country. It's organized alphabetically by state and then by city. It's fairly comprehensive, but I think the galleries/museums have to submit their information to be included.
I happened to find a great book at my local library called Art Guide Texas by Rebecca S. Cohen. She travelled around Texas and collected information on museums, art centers, and non-profit art exhibition spaces. It had a lot of great information in it. I'm not sure if there are equivalent publications for other states.
When I find a listing for a university gallery or art center that I'm curious about, I will look at their website (if I can find one) and if I'm interested in showing there, I'll look for submission guidelines. If I can't find any on their website, I will email the gallery director and ask if they accept exhibition proposals from artists and if so, do they accept proposals on CD (I personally don't like to send slides and would rather send my images on CD). Most will accept proposals from artists and on CD, but every now and then I'll find one that only deals with slides or only accepts proposals from curators.
Most art centers and university galleries have exhibition committees that meet periodically to review proposals. They could have your proposal for quite a while before you hear from them, so be patient.
Of the 49 proposals that I've sent out starting in February of 2005, I've received 2 "we like your work but we'll get back to you" responses, 18 rejections, and 6 shows. Persistence pays off!