The application form for the National Eisteddfod of Wales’ Visual Arts Exhibition (competition) 2013 landed on my desk this week.
I’m gob-smacked that there is still no online application process for the open submission exhibition. To apply artists must:
“send their £20.00 fee, a completed application form, the Jpeg images or DVD works, together with a clear statement concerning the work to the visual arts officer at the following address: Eisteddfod Office, 40 Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff CF14 5DU”
I’m not suggesting they completely replace this real world process with a digital process. There are plenty of ancient artists across this country who would no doubt have a heart attack at the prospect of having to complete an online form. But, I’m a millennial. I don’t have a chequebook, I don’t have a writable CD drive on my computer in order to burn jpeg images to a disk, and a certainly can’t remember the last time I sent anything by snail mail.
The thing is, this postal application process is typical of Wales’ national art events. The Welsh Artist of the Year organisers offered no digital submission process either this year, instead opting for their usual expensive hard copy application forms.
I do wonder if it’s an age thing. I know the key organisers behind both of these events and they are not exactly young whippersnappers! I get the impression that these open submission events in Wales are organised in this way because that’s the way they’ve always done things. For example, I never get an invite to the Welsh Artist of the Year exhibition via email. It always arrives through my letterbox.
The expense of continuing to issue hard copy only literature must be phenomenal. There’s the cost of having the fancy leaflets and application forms printed, and then there’s cost of posting these papers out. In addition to this there is of course the man hours needed to stuff and label hundreds of envelopes.
Using a digital submission process alongside the traditional postal method would not only make these open submission exhibitions more widely accessible, but also help to reduce the administrative costs.
Of course I’d like to think that any costs that are made would be passed on to the artists and the organisers would reduce their submission fees.
This years Eisteddfod is charging a £20.00 submission fee for their Visual Arts Exhibition and that doesn’t guarantee you anything but a quick glance across photographs of your work by the judges.
That in itself is enough to put me off. I occasionally pay £1.00 for a lottery ticket with ambitions of winning a million pounds or two, or a large fraction thereof. Why would I pay £20.00 for the chance to win five thousand pounds and risk the feeling of dejection that comes with not winning the Eisteddfod’s grand prize – or worse still not being selected for the exhibition?
After all it is just pot luck. The organisers will receive hundreds of submissions no doubt from across length and breadth of the country. Whether or not one gets selected is ultimately going to come down the mood of the judges on the day of selection and possibly whether or not they recognise your work.
Between the expensive submission fee and hassle of having to prepare a hard copy submission there is no way I’ll be submitting anything for this year’s National Eisteddfod of Wales Visual Arts Exhibition, and in my humble opinion that’s their loss.
I always have the feeling that these exhibitions are incestuous, introverted; constantly looking inward on our country ignoring the bigger picture. Open submission events such as the Eisteddfod and the Welsh Artist of the Year need shaking up from top to bottom.
Lets get some new blood in and bring them all kicking and screaming into the twenty first century. The country needs some national exhibitions by Welsh artists that we can shout about and be proud of.