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5 Benefits of an Art Gallery Membership

August 17, 2009

In the  post 21 Ways to Kickstart your Creativity, I mentioned becoming a member at a gallery as one way to become a better artist. Today I will expand on this, and explain why it is such a good idea.

As an emerging artist, it’s important to involve yourself in your local arts community as much as possible. For some of us, this comes almost as naturally as breathing. For others, it’s more of a struggle, but it’s well worth the effort. A gallery membership can be very beneficial to the emerging artist.

1. Visiting Exhibits:

As a gallery member, you pay a one time fee that allows you to visit exhibitions for free. This means that you can see a particularly good show over and over if you wanted to. Visiting exhibitions is important for a number of reasons. It can be a  source of ideas and inspiration. Seeing what others are working on can expand your own ideas and lead you in a new direction. Even if the work isn’t to your taste, or isn’t applicable to your art practice, it’s good to be aware of what is happening in the art world. Visiting galleries in a way of keeping in touch with the art world beyond your studio.

2. Exhibition Opportunities:

Most galleries will have a members show once a year. These shows are open only to those holding a membership and often are not juried, which means that everyone is accepted. This can make for a very interesting, varied show. For a beginning artist, it’s a great way to build your CV, get gallery experience, and get exposure for your work.

3. Networking:

Don’t just go see the exhibits, actually attend the openings. This gives  you a chance to meet other artists and build a network of connections. As they way, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and some of your best opportunities can come from other artists. As you start attending these kinds of events, you will probably notice that you see many of the same faces over and over again. Get to know these people, they are the ones who are active in your community!

4. Artist Talks:

Another great way to get involved is by attending artist talks. This gives you another opportunity to network as well as getting a deeper insight into someone else’s work. It’s one thing to look at art, it’s something else completely to hear someone speak about their own work. Also, when the time comes for you to do your own artist talk, you will have a better idea of what is expected of you!

5. Mailing Lists:

As a gallery member, you may be asked if you want to be included in their mailing list. Say yes! Mailing lists are a great way for galleries to get information to you about shows, talks, events and exhibition opportunities. These include calls for entry to galleries and juried shows worldwide. Being on a gallery’s mailing list can provide you with many opportunities  you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Get Involved!

The bottom line is this: get yourself out there and get involved! Attend shows and openings, volunteer for fundraisers, and most  importantly, talk to people! You never know where it might lead!

  1. Great post, thank you for writing it.

    However, I’m not sure that always being involved with one’s “local arts community as much as possible” is such great advice.

    Sometimes a local community, arts-based or otherwise, can be very cliquish and sometimes downright mean-spirited. That might have an adverse effect on the artist and their career.

    An artist, IMHO, needs to find his or her audience, and certainly, if that audience is local and supportive, then they should go for it. But, if they find more acceptance in another venue, then they can establish their success there.

    Gary Brant, Director
    Galerie St. George
    Staten Island, New York

    • Good point Gary! I agree that some arts groups can be very cliquish! You definitely have to find your niche where you feel you belong. Although I’ve focused on art galleries, that doesn’t encompass the entire arts community. I know that here, at least, there are many different organizations independent of the galleries that you could get involved in depending on what you’re into. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Hi Miranda,

    I could pay a museum’s membership, namely to be able to go there and spend a couple of hours drawing, have discount or free admitance into exhibitions and the buffet (if there’s one).
    Pay a membership to a gallery ?
    Well….maybe if I get to exhibit at the Tate Gallery.
    Why should visitors have to pay to seen an exhibition if that’s in the interest of the gallery.
    I find this even worse than vanity galleries that charge for exhibiting one’s works (in fact I do understand their point of view).
    As for artists seminars, well, when I want to learn something I ask my coleagues from Wetcanvas.
    Sorry to be against your line of thought, but that’s my opinion.

    Kind regards,


    • José: Well, some galleries charge and some don’t, I guess it depends on their mandate and type of programming. Perhaps my next post should focus on reasons not to belong to a gallery! It’s not for everyone, but personally I feel it’s important to support local arts and to give back to the community. These are some of the benefits I get from being involved.

  3. thanks Miranda!! I bought a pkg. of sharpie fine point pens, but they only have a few colors in it (red, blue and green-plus a black one) I found a couple pens in my supply box, not sure what brand…there felt tipped, like the sharpie’s much more:) I must say, leaving the doodles black and white is much easier
    have a good evening!

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