If it's not for sale, why pay for it?

b-side’s New Quality of Experience Visitor Panel

Following on from the success of the VASW/Annabel Jackson Associates initiated Quality of Experience Visitor Panel pilot in 2013, b-side decided to create a second panel to coincide with the biennial festival on Portland in September 2014. Four South West arts organisations took part in the original pilot project, which involved setting up visitor panels with themes pertinent to each organisation.

b-side curator Sally Watkins and members of Friends of b-side, invited a number of arts professionals, collectors and business people to come on a tour of the festival then take part in follow up sessions on the theme: ‘If it’s not for sale, why pay for it?’ Using Annabel Jackson’s toolkit as a model the group were tasked with looking at how a festival such as b-side, which primarily commissions site-based non-permanent work, could be considered investable?

Sally says, “In the original Quality of Experience questionnaire, there is a question which asks the respondent if they would buy the artwork. At first this seemed irrelevant to b-side as the work we commission isn’t for sale, but we decided that it was actually a provocative question that given the need to find either philanthropic or business sponsorship, would be really useful to ask. What is it about b-side that would encourage someone to invest in us? Would you forgo buying a painting in favour of putting money into a site-based residency or commission?

Our panel is a combination of invited arts professionals and collectors who knew less about b-side’s work before the festival and our b-side Friends group, who regularly act as advocates for the organisation.  I felt that they talk about the art works and the impact the festival has on the community in a way that demonstrates the reliance small organisations such as ours have on our hosts. This isn’t a ‘flattery discussion’ it’s a critical dialogue about how artwork made for a very specific context might prompt investment."

We are still in the process of running the panel, and b-side is hugely grateful to all those participating. We will of course share our findings at a later stage.


How to Apply

If you are interested and would like to find out more about this project please contact sally@b-side.org.uk