SAW 2012: what I have learned

What I have learned from Somerset Art Weeks:
1. That around 300 people were prepared to trek out to the middle of nowhere to see some abstract art.
2. That these 300 people were mostly very interesting to talk to, and a few of them were prepared to buy art.
3. That buying work from the artist makes that artist very happy indeed. And not just because of the money.
4. That putting on a SAW show involves a lot of time and money, so I’d better enjoy it.
5. That there are very few abstract artists around, but there is good solid interest from the public.
6. That we need to find some way of encouraging art patronage rather than art tourism.
7. That SAW is in danger of becoming a community arts organisation rather than the artists’ network it once was.
8. That I can’t wait to get on with some new work.

  1. ros marchant said:

    Surely we can turn tourists into patrons…. eventually? First you beguile them with tasty events like SAW, then, when their defences are down you go for the KILL! I’m just surprised this hasnt happened more for SAW cos it has been going for so long now. Maybe it is happening, but it is still quite hidden. Perhaps there is a new study to be done here.

    The community angle is a tricky one, but I presume that is still where the grant funding is. The important thing is that we continue to give everyone quality art on our terms…… not theirs!

    Trust me, compare with La France profonde, Somerset is an artists paradise!

  2. ninaart said:

    Yes I agree and I also learnt the conceptual side of fine art can be read and understood by the general public/ people with no formal training with engagement and participation.

  3. Bron, what you write is interesting, and important. I found much the same earlier this year during DAW, although strangely I sold more than ever. But mostly, as ever, to people I knew, and a few who had come specifically to see my work. So I don’t kid myself that next Artweeks will be anything like as profitable. The first important point is how to make it as enjoyable for the artists as it clearly is for the visitors! Increasingly that feels a hard one to do in the absence of significant sales. I think SAW works hard to keep the networking element going, through various events, the new curatorial pack, and Reveal sessions etc. Initiating Exhibitions and Events year was an attempt at addressing the ballooning numbers of Artweeks venues, but that perhaps needs to be followed up by re-examining the point of Open Studios, and, as you say, encouraging art patronage not art tourism. I think the Arts Council, also, though they claim to encourage patronage, is actually guilty of promoting simple tourism through their insistence on seeking quantity rather than quality of audience when granting funding.
    As you say, back to the studio, that now unfashionable place for an artist to be! But actually the most essential. In my bid to get funds to be in my studio and make new work, I have of course resorted to the Arts Council as you know! So please everyone visit and follow us on the dreaded Facebook and Twitter!!!
    See you all soon at the Dove when I can get away from the admin of my project!

  4. I completely concur with Bron, but would just like to add that it is not necessary for visitors to say that they love the work but cannot afford it and then explain why, please just enjoy do not feel the need to offer a reason why you are not making a purchase.

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