Blog Archive

Monday, 26 November 2007

Pay for my drink?! At an Art show..?!!

More on Halloween at Eastside here

Yep, that's what I thought when I went to Ikon Eastside's Halloween event . 'What a disgrace! You never pay for drinks at art do's! That's why people turn up!'. And then a close friend reminded me of a conversation we'd had where we'd discussed how you pay to get into a music event and then quite happily pay for over priced drinks because you at a concert, but expect free entry & booze at art venues, and how this must be detrimental to the art world at grass roots where people are struggling to make and show work. I'd better buy 2 drinks then. thought I. And did.

But the point is; OK, so artist's are always skint and free entry & free drinks do make people turn up.. but at the expense of the people putting on the show? Now maybe this isn't so much a concern for Ikon, but I'd like to see places like Colony and the Springhill Institute with more cash for their next show. After all money is your lifeblood whatever you do. And if you can't really afford it, then maybe there wont be a next time. And if you make some money, even on reduced price drinks &/or entry then the next show should be better right? Dunno how this floats with funders and licensing laws, but it's a thought.

You can find me at the Ikon Gallery Private View tomorrow night drinking free beer.

Random Fact; It was I who made those jittery animations of the flyer as a backdrop for the musicians!


  1. It was only £1 for a drink, wasn't it?
    Not exactly comparable to the price of an afternoon cocktail at the Ritz...

  2. I always favour the donations option, you usually get a bit back, but no one feels obliged if they can't afford it.

    I think the difference in whether you should pay at an art event versus a music event has a couple of precedents:

    1) posh galleries give free wine to rich clients so they'll buy something

    2) More importantly for the kind of shows we go to, music events are at least meant to be entertainment, people pay for being entertained. Art shows aren't entertainment, I haven't worked out what they are exactly, but people have to give something of themselves to enjoy an art exibition, and it seems a bit rude to ask them to pay as well. Of course if there are any wealthy donators out there...

  3. Maybe a better comparison would be with an album launch party. There you'd expect some kind of free booze. Further to this, when you go to the gallery after the event there ain't no booze for you.

    I think the booze is part of the promotional budget. You get the movers and shakers along to the launch, give them a good time and hope they'll write nice things about it and tell their friends who then come along during the rest of the run and maybe buy something.

    Also the beer is usually sponsored by the beer company at these things.

  4. There's also the legal issue.

    Giving away some free wine at your opening means you don't have to go through the expensive effort of applying for and gaining a licence to sell intoxicating liquor (or whatever they call it).

    Paying bar = get a licence (and hassled).

    Free bar = no licence, happy patrons, potential sales of work/good connections.

    There's also the mixed 'donation' system whereby people are invited to make a donation to the event and just so happen to have some drinks on the same table...

    I guess you could do an interesting equation between Radiohead's new business model and the latter!

  5. Gigs, football matches = working-class venues therefore overpriced beer + ticket price

    Art show = middle class venue therefore free entry + free wine

  6. over the past few years having free drinks at art launches has been an incentive for building the art community. i remember for a while i went out every Thursday night to meet the same friendly faces, discuss the scene and get merry, maybe retiring to a pub to carry on the banter, after the show. not a Saturday night piss up by any means... it was also a good way to get a few of the people not so into the art world to come along - "but there's free drinks" - "oh cool I'll come then"
    with the funding difficulties that we now have it will be interesting to see how many artists will keep the drinks to a minimum and spend the budget on the work...

  7. As Pete pointed out, I suppose concerts dont go on after the night do they, when you can return and examine the band in your own time with a clear head... Imagine the price that would be!?

    Devil's advocate; Isn't music superior to art anyway? Where we paying for the music at Eastside?