Art Competition Odds, Meta-Practice

Art Competition Oddities

Most of the time, I don’t give too much thought to the art competition application process, but a recent application presented two discrepancies that made me take notice.

First, the entry fee was published as $10, but the slide management content management system (CMS) charged $20. This wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but price variations like that erode my trust a teensy bit.

Second, the application requirements asked for the names of references, with the condition that reference letters would only be requested on behalf of the artists who are selected for a residency. However, the CMS automatically sent requests for letters to the references during the application process.

The additional $10 is a cost I can bear, but I would have been much more sparing with the time, labor, and good will of my esteemed references.

I hope to minimize how much work I ask of these supporters. They are curators and administrators of small alternative arts organizations that are often stretched thin. I can’t imagine how many artists ask them for their time and labor to help them with these favors. I certainly would not want them to do any unnecessary work, especially over the holidays when they are getting much-deserved down time, as was this case. I was embarrassed to impose upon them, especially when I decided to complete the form shortly before the deadline. Had I known about an off-the-bat request, I would have weighed my decision to apply differently.

Online submissions beat hardcopies, however, user interface design and skills are still developing. I sent these notes to the organization; hopefully they’ll get it sorted for next year’s annual call.

Here’s a big cheer to those arts organizations who do it right — who mind their p’s and q’s as closely as they’d want applicants to.

And loads of gratitude to those unsung supporters who help artists and jurors turn open calls into real-life opportunities and experiences. Cheers to you!


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