Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fees to Donate to Charity Fundraisers

I am seeing more and more charity events which ask artists to not only donate their work to be sold, usually at auction, to raise money for the organization, but to pay a fee for doing so.

In one recent case, the $35 submission fee was to be paid directly to the artist's charity of choice, chosen from a list. Monies raised from the auction were supposed to be commingled by the umbrella organization and then apportioned out to its chosen recipients. The artist who sold nothing was out $35. The artist who sold something, was out the time, materials, blood sweat and tears it took to make that piece plus $35.

In the case of something I just looked at, there is a juried submission process. No fee to submit. If selected, though, the artist has to pay $35. On top of that, the organization takes a 40% commission on sales.

Nothing wrong in donating to a charity of your choice, of course. I support that. But these guys are treating artists as wimpy little money machines who would sell their birthright for "exposure." Too bad it works. What the organizations are doing, that is. The exposure, not so much. In my experience, very few artists have benefited from having their work in charity auctions. Usually the people who buy the work are bargain hunters who do not buy work at real prices. And often the artists are disappointed because their work either didn't sell or because it sold for a relatively low price, of which the artist got little or nothing.

Seems best to give work only for those causes one believes in, and give it the same way one would give money or some other donation -- freely, with little concern other than helping.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Taking it to a New Level

Crussell Fine Arts in Orange CA has issued a call for art to be purchased by a new Bloomingdale's store to open in August 2010 in Santa Monica. Crussel will administer the purchase of the works.

This sort of thing is usually handled by an art consultant. There are thousands of art consultants in the US. They range in experience from hey-what-the-hell-I'll-give-it-a-try to savvy professionals who help corporations and individuals build up impressive collections. They generally operate by building up a substantial registry of images from artists whom they have selected as appropriate for their client base. The legitimate among them do not charge these artists to submit. Rather, they make their income from actual sales, normally taking about 50% of the selling price.

Mr Russel, too, is taking a 50% commission on all the work sold to Bloomingdale's. That should result in a hefty fee, which we don't begrudge him. But he is also requiring artists to pay him $35 just to submit their work to be considered. That's not normal. It's also not good business sense, either, as it will screen out the more established artists who feel, rightly, they shouldn't have to pay for their work to be considered.

The cynical among us might think he already has his "better" artists lined up to show Bloomingdale's and is simply issuing the pay-to-play call to pick up a bit more cash and perhaps a few more artists for the pool. But it would be too cynical to think such a thing.