A small call to action:
If you like what we do here at Small House Gallery, and you’re in the position to, and feel inclined to, please consider visiting our >>>>>> paypal.me link <<<<<< and contributing to our upkeep, whether weekly, monthly, yearly, or just a one off, and help us keep keep ticking along.
Small House behind the scenes…
Small House Gallery is a fun and joyous little project with big aspirations of becoming a long term fixture on the London/UK art scene. It was founded in 2016 by artist Eldi Dundee, then took a hiatus between 2018/19, and was revived and reinvigorated during the first Covid lockdown 2020, when we began a dedicated Instagram account, and put out an ‘Open Call’ on CuratorSpace inviting artists to submit for solo and group micro shows. From the very next day, and ever since, we have been in receipt of a steady stream of exciting international proposals, from the Americas, to the Middle East, and several points between.
In the New Year (2021) we acquired two new Small House Gallery dolls houses. One, the same style as the first, has an additional floor. We’re calling that one Small House Two. The second is a completely different style of house. It came ready restored and pimped by a design team, and offers a much bigger footprint than the other two houses, but with fixed, pre-styled interiors which we want to keep as is. We’re calling that house: Small House Cottage. This expansion means we can show more than one artist concurrently, or it gives one artist the potential to show work in multiple mini house-scapes, simultaneously or sequentially.
The demand for our services may just be a Covid thing. Or maybe it could last years. We can’t know where our efforts are going to lead. What we do know is that we want to be able to keep Small House Gallery going for as long there’s a desire for it, and that we’d like to continue attracting interesting, accomplished, playful emerging- and mid-career artists from all around the world to our 1:12 scaled curatorial offering. Maybe even get to the point where we can commission some work especially…?
Running a contemporary art gallery for a dolls house (nay, three dolls houses, now, as of January 2021) isn’t exactly what you’d call an income generator. There’s no salary, yet for a venture so small in scale, there’s a huge heap of unseen, unpaid, work, time, and creative energies that go into managing and maintaining it behind the scenes. It has been wholly self-funded since its conception, and since its revival, has been free to artists to apply for and show since early September 2020 through til mid March 2021 (that’s 6 and a half months of unpaid work which, since Small House Two was up and running, has become a full time unpaid job). It’s was never going to be sustainable to continue that way longterm. Our investment in the galleries’ infrastructures and maintenance significantly outweighs the more than negligible financial returns. How can we turn instagram and facebook hearts, thumbs and fire emojis into actual income so that we can at least break even?
We are truly grateful for our followers and their moral support, likes and mentions! And we love growing followers organically and authentically. It’s so very validating and rewarding to have people respond so positively. But, as flattering and affirming as all that is, we aren’t able to live off of our sweat equity and smiles.
How to financially sustain this venture without ‘selling out’? or losing creative control? Without compromising the integrity, quality, vision or playfulness that are abundant in these early days? And without making the project inaccessible to people who are genuinely struggling?
We’ve managed to keep ads off the website – for now. We know how irritating they can be when they interfere with visual content.
We didn’t want to have to charge artists any fees for submitting or showing their work, but, you see, the voluntary contributions model has failed. It feels awful to have to resort to it. It’s that, or pack the project in after a good 6 month run, with artists penciled into the schedule until December 2021! So that will have meant working for nothing, yet somehow forking out of pocket, for 15 months! No way. So the new Call Out on CuratorSpace is asking for a whopping £3.00 submission fee from each artist who proposes work for a show, and if selected, the artist is asked to pay a small admin/curation fee of £15.00. That doesn’t actually cover an hour’s wage, but still, it will hopefully help keep the project ticking along until we can attract sponsorship or a successful funding bid from ACE or the like.
The artists agree to take care of all the costs of the safe packing and insured shipping of their work to and and from the Small House Galleries, and we ask them for a very humble commission of 20% on any works that sell as a result of exhibiting with us.
The £15.00 fee is the minimum suggested amount, but we would be ever so grateful if artists who can afford to pay more, do so as generously as possible, because that will potentially enable us to waive or reduce reduce the fee for an artist who might be at a disadvantage economically. (The amount each artist pays is between them and the curator alone. As far as everyone else is concerned, all artists showing with us have paid the fee equally! What happens in Art Club, Stays in Art Club. )
We still hold out hope that we will attract some sort of sponsorship, or investment, or a grant to help cover our expenses, and, let’s dream big – bring in a living wage.
With outside support we could
- Provide some bursaries for artists from important, underrepresented, and under-served demographics to show on a fair sliding scale, or for free in some cases.
- Commission artists for shows for specific charitable causes, perhaps even to raise money towards a fund for the previous point.
- The commissioned artists could be FROM those demographics, thus putting our money where are mouths are.
It could be very positive for a company’s corporate responsibility image, perhaps.
We could use one of the houses for a few creative retail collaborations maybe?
We could rent out the detachable basement floor of Small House Two for well curated project placement or something along those lines.
We’d only welcome financial support or contributions from companies, corporations or funding bodies who would agree not to interfere with our’s project’s creative autonomy and authenticity, and for which there is no ethical clash. We’d also want to have a say in how, where, when and for how long their logos are displayed. We’d want to see it as a creative collaboration and the sponsor would need to respectfully treat it as such in order for it to work.
We started our instagram page in September 2020 during Covid lockdown. Our Open Call on CuratorSpace went live late September. We had our first submissions through Instagram in the beginning of October. Our reach, though still small by modern corporate standards is very low, but it’s grown organically without desperately pushing for growth, to nearly 400 followers in 6 months. Maybe it will grown more and faster from now? It’s very possible, so maybe at some point down the line we will attract corporate collaborations and sponsors? And yet, we can in know what count on that happening.
We are taking advice on Arts Council Funding applications and asking for grants from other funding bodies that might be out there for a project like this.
UPDATE – Decided NOT to apply for a ACE Project Funding, as the application process is too much of a headache in that it would be necessary to try and shoehorn the project into their remit to serve a particular area of England, or a particularly underrepresented demographic, and though I want to be as inclusive as possible for artists from all backgrounds and all presentations of humanness (I’m personally all about intersectional identity politics) it would be disingenuous to focus on serving one demographic above another, simply in order to try to get money from the tax payer for this project (especially as there’s already a calendar-full of artists in place, from September 2021 to July 2022, and they don’t all tick the same boxes). I will leave that privilege to others for whom an identity focused programme or agenda is more useful or essential. Though this project has been helpful in terms of connecting otherwise isolated individuals during the lockdowns, and it’s helped quite a few of us in terms of our mental health, past lockdown, the social NEED is no longer there. It’s more about being a Nice To Have rather than a Must Have for me or anyone else. Yes, there are boxes that I personally can tick as an individual, but I don’t necessarily want that to be the focus of the Small House Gallery project, just to access a small pot of money.
It’s very early days into our current incarnation, just now emerging ever so slowly from Covid Lockdown number 3 in 2021.
For now, we want our energy and focus to go to the selection of a diverse array of artists whose ideas and output thrill, inspire, stimulate or provoke us in some way, and on helping them develop a fantastic micro show in one (or all) of our humble little South London/online gallery spaces.
The point of all this? (The clue is in the page title and tip jar image)
A repeat of the small call to action:
Again: If you like what we do here at Small House Gallery, and you’re in the position to, and feel inclined to, please consider visiting our >>>>>> paypal.me link <<<<<< and contributing to our upkeep, weekly, monthly, yearly, or just a one off, and help us keep keep ticking along.
Thank you for your time, and generosity, whatever amount you can give. And if you can’t help financially, please continue to support us by spreading the word about our projects. Visit the virtual shows, share them on your social media accounts. Support the artists we work with. Follow them online. If you can and are so inclined, buy their work. Be lovely. Spread the love.
With thanks and kind regard,
The Small House Gallery family