What practical and financial implications should you take into account if you want to exhibit visual work? Stef Van Bellingen, general director of arts platform WARP and cultural ambassador of Sint-Niklaas, assists artists in this.
“At WARP, short for Wase Artistic Projects, we see ourselves as a stimulator and coach. Together with the artist we look at how he or she can realise his or her artistic ideas and we work towards an exhibition. The artistic content of course is central to that exercise. But each artistic choice also has practical and financial implications. In fact you can’t disconnect the two. Which is why these practical concerns are part of the substantive guidance we offer the artist. So we don’t stop at simply paying a fee for the exhibition, we look at the big picture”.
“Take the artists who reside in our artists’ village. During such a residency, we provide sessions in which we talk about their artistic plans and in which we test those plans together for their practical and financial feasibility. While WARP does not have huge resources, we sometimes can achieve great things together. We’re creative in this. For example, we look for sponsorship for equipment and we involve supporters”.
The right price
“We always work together with an exhibition as focus, for example for Coup De Ville, a triennial or quadrennial art route through Sint-Niklaas. It is evident that we do not leave the artist to his or her own devices. We handle the transport of art works and equipment, the insurance of art works, and we contribute ideas about promotion and communication. We bring artists into contact with commentators, professionals who write texts for the exhibition and for catalogues. In doing so, we sow the seeds of what sometimes becomes a long-standing professional bond between artist and commentator. Although this is not central to our operations, it is possible that art works are sold. We then assist the artist in setting prices and preparing a certificate. We also suggest that he or she transfer a small percentage of the purchase amount to WARP to help us recover our costs”.
“Sometimes projects develop differently than originally planned. Which is why we put a lot of effort into interim communication and continue to monitor the agreements made. Sometimes we have to stop the collaboration before the intended end of the process, for example if the communication is too one-sided or if a project takes on unrealisable dimensions. In this case, we remunerate the artist as initially foreseen. But that rarely happens. Adapting the artistic plans is part of the artistic practice. As is remaining in dialogue. This makes it possible to nevertheless achieve a result”.