Changes to the submission process
The Society of Botanical Artists (SBA) last week published its call for entries for its 2016 Annual Exhibition which takes place, as usual, at Central Hall Westminster in London in April 2016. The theme this year is "Shape, Pattern, Structure" which I personally think is very likely to produce some fascinating entries with a more contemporary feel.
While the exhibition venue and dates remain the same as usual, the submission process has changed.
I've written an overview of the whole process on my main blog ( see Making A Mark: Call for Entries: Society of Botanical Artists' Annual Exhibition 2016 ) and below I highlight and comment on the main changes - relating to:
Fees have changed
Instead of having a very complex range of fees covering (a) submission and (b) hanging - both of which varied by size - there is now just one fee which covers everything irrespective of size.
I have to say I think this is a major improvement. The "one-fee-for-everything" is
Digital entry has been introduced
I guess the fee change was inevitable given that the Society is also following the trend of switching to digital entry already adopted by many other national art societies and major art competitions in both the UK and across the world.
A number of art societies have now introduced digital entry for their open exhibitions. This is a process which has been happening over the last five years or so and is now becoming the accepted way of entering work in many prestigious exhibitions from the RA's Summer Exhibition to the open exhibitions of many of the other national art societies.
In this instance the SBA is using 2016 to pilot the process with non-members. From 2017 I understand that digital entry will be mandatory for both SBA members and non-members - which gives members a long time to get their skills up to speed or to identify people who can help them with submission.
There is no absolute requirement to use digital entry if the timescale and implications of the change make it difficult for anybody. However there are significant advantages to using this method of entry
Advantages for artists
The major advantage for artists is that digital entry cuts down on their expenses.
The one requirement that it's essential for artists to get to to grips with is how to photograph and manipulate artwork so that it is suitable for submission - and I'll be writing more about this.
Obviously digital entry will not suit everybody right away. However older artists who are not computer savvy will usually have somebody amongst their family, friends of local art group who can help them out.
Advantages for art societies
I don't know the exact reasons why the SBA are bringing in digital entry
The major advantage of this method of entry - for an art society - that I know about are as follows:
The timeline for submission has changed
This is one aspect of the Call for Entries which I think needs to be reviewed in the light of the experiences this year and may well need fine tuning next year.
While the process for entering work via the Receiving Day remains the same as last year, the timeline for submission via the digital entry process is tight between the call for entries and the deadline for submission. The caveat of allowing non-members to continue to use the normal Receiving Day process is very helpful in avoiding any problems this year for those who find the new process 'strange'. (On a personal basis, I'm expecting to enter works using both methods!)
I know the timescales have been partly influenced by the introduction of a very nice new website in order to facilitate the digital entry.
For the next exhibition in 2017, I'd like to suggest that the SBA should aim to emulate the sort of timescale and notification provided by the FBA Societies where:
The Annual Exhibition will be on display - as normal - in the Aldersgate Room of Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London SW1H 9NH between 15th and 23rd April 2016.
I look forward to seeing many of my readers there - and all the work of course!
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