Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lack of Communication

Communication is key, as I've pointed out before. Somewhat recently I applied for a show of digital images that was canceled due to a lack of submissions. Unfortunately, no one from the organization hosting the show bothered to contact many of those artists who did submit work.

Now I have dealt with this before when submitting work to various large institutions, especially if I am doing so cold. Some are notoriously bad about not saying anything or getting back to people. The lines of communication simply aren't open. And I've gotten used to being treated like I'm not worth the time to respond to in those circuits (even after I put hours and thought into my submission for a call for art and they couldn't email me even a single line to say that it wasn't what they wanted or it was postponed/canceled).

But I paid a submission fee towards the recent canceled show. Granted, it was very small, but there was money involved beyond just my time. So not only do I feel disrespected, I feel used. I did get in contact with the organization putting on the show, but only after trying to attend the supposed reception and not hearing back from two previous emails.

I understand the frustration generated by the lack of submissions that made it seemingly impossible to put together a cohesive show. But the organization genuinely owed it to the artists who did apply to at least say something about the cancellation. It wasn't the fault of those who did apply that there weren't more submissions - we did our part.

And it amazes me that when I did get in touch with them, the submissions were berated as a whole for being unprofessional and low-caliber work. (Way to go - add insult to injury! Better yet, insult those who want to be involved so that you eliminate whatever support or interest you do have.) But what did they expect? There were no specifications at all in regards to what kind of artwork was sought. Without guidelines, submissions will run the gamut.

This really isn't about the money - it was a trivial amount and they haven't done anything with it anyway (which in some ways is worse because now my checkbook won't balance). This is about having the decency to follow through on something, especially when there was a monetary commitment involved. If you expected such a strong commitment on behalf of those submitting that they needed to pay you, you should take it seriously yourself. Doing anything else is disrespectful to those who applied. And in order to be taken seriously in the professional circuit, you have to act professionally yourself.

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