Report on Spetchley 2020
Overall a successful show. Sales were 100% better than last year. Many visitors were forthcoming about how much they had enjoyed the gardens with the sculptures. Spetchley would like to repeat it next year and also spoke of a small semi permanent exhibition.
Total sales arising from the exhibition were approx £20k. This is a significant improvement on last year (£9.5) but there were a number of factors affecting the result.
On the plus side
the exhibition lasted 5 weeks rather than three weeks;
because of Covid visiting gardens was probably a more attractive activity than usual and because National Trust properties were insisting on booking some found it easier to choose Spetchley
the weather was at least as good as last year.
On the down side
There were only 90 exhibits (by 24 artists) compared to 140 ( by 34 artists) last year and therefore less choice. In particular the indoor element of the exhibition was a bit thin and, I thought, lacked variety: and
Covid may have made people more cautious about spending and the requirement to wear a mask for the indoor exhibition did deter a few from entering.
Of the 60 items sold 30 were for £250 or less and a further 23 for £250 -£500. 5 items cost around £1000 and 2 cost approx. £2000.
Two thirds of sculptors made at least one sale
32 of the 90 sculptures exhibited sold.
More than one copy of 9 sculptures were sold
Costs and benefits for OSG
Total cost of putting on the exhibition was £1838. Or around 10% of sales. Of this Spetchley met £365 which was the cost of designing and printing the catalogue. OSG met the cost of banners (£83), stewarding (£1380), and incidentals (£10) – a total of £1473. This share of costs, betweenm Spetchley and OSG, was the same as last year
Income from the exhibition will be in excess of £1600 (entrance fees were £675 and commission £940 or more). So, income covered costs, just.
Costs and benefits for Spetchley
My impression was that a number of visitors came specifically for the sculptures or came again because of the sculptures. So Spetchley benefitted from increased ticket sales and associated café and plant sales. This was an unusual year but visitor numbers per week for the same period for the last three years suggests a significant benefit
2020 - 1020 per week (for 5 week exhibition period)
2019 - 870 per week (for 3 week exhibition period)
2018 - 600 per week ( for 3 weeks but no exhibition)
Their commission on sculpture sales will between £2800 and £3000. Apart from the catalogue (£365) they incurred no expenses and although helpful on set up day and connecting possible buyers with the steward they had very little extra work because of the exhibition.
Nigel’s new application system worked well and saved effort. The one page summary including small photo greatly helped planning layout.
Important that steward has immediately to hand artists’ contact details, delivery arrangements and availability of copies. If no laptop then this information needs to be extracted in a simple form.
Without printing facilities at the exhibition the steward needs to write receipts and these can be improved.
The main cost was the steward. She was excellent in engaging visitors, maintaining meticulous records; keeping members informed of sales, of possible sales and delivery issues. She was active in spotting possible interest and encouraging possible buyers to contact the artist.. She is an 18 year old about to go to Uni and was paid £9 an hour. She met her own travel expenses.
In future use of I Zettle must be checked well in advance. There were problems with phone and the local Wi Fi. Best if stewards use their own phone but if members do stewarding this may not be possible in all cases
Banners: Good banners are important in telling people that a sculpture exhibition is on. One of the three banners was sited on a major roundabout on the edge of Worcester. Given the low cost of banners I wonder whether more could have been used.
Social media: the Spetchley web site could have given the exhibition greater prominence. But more importantly more use should have been made of social media. Surely we have a member who can help
For obvious reasons Spetchley are keen to repeat the event and it seems would like to consider a semi permanent exhibition. There is a possibility that over time we could develop an association between Spetchley and sculpture which in the long run will benefit members .
Given the benefits to Spetchley we could argue for a lower commission (say 12.5 %) and we need to discuss all practical and cost matters before agreeing to an exhibition
Length of Exhibition: there is some evidence that the longer the better. 50% of sales were in the last week. Awareness of the exhibition seemed to grow with time.
As far as the venue was concerned the gardens tend to fade a bit towards the end of the summer and the sculptures compensate. This argues for the same time of year.