Friday, July 24, 2009

Deadline Extensions

Today I am going to rant about deadline extensions. I am amazed that I haven't devoted a blog post solely to this topic. I have touched on some of the aftermath of extending deadlines, like some effects on submissions and doing things at the last-minute (which I've blogged about twice). But I haven't devoted a post to the extension of deadlines that I am aware of.

Galleries and organizations can have very valid reasons for extending deadlines. The most common is that there weren't enough submissions. This is a difficult challenge to address because a show may not be able to go on without more submissions. Unfortunately, if the show theme was unpopular a deadline extension may not even resolve this. And some artists will not apply to shows that have been extended simply because they don't think the show is a worthwhile pursuit (if no one else submitted, it must not be worth doing).

Okay, so you had to extend a deadline for a show. That's okay - it happens to everyone from time to time. But extending a deadline doesn't examine the root cause of the lack of submissions to avoid the problem in the future. Without looking at why people didn't submit work in time, it is probable that there won't be enough response to the next call as well. Thus extending deadlines can become a habit that is difficult to break. Many organizations find themselves in such cycles from one show to the next because they still aren't getting in enough submissions. And the more frequently the organization does it, the more likely it will be necessary because more artists will procrastinate under the assumption that the deadline will be extended.

I suppose if you find yourself in a pattern of extending deadlines, then one solution is to embrace the extension and to list the deadline earlier on the first call than it needs to be so that you can extend it without pushing everything else back. However, this still doesn't resolve why there has been a repeated lack of submissions. There are other solutions and things to consider. If the call was put out enough in advance and there still aren't enough submissions, perhaps the juror could be given some space to show a collection of artworks in conjunction with the juried show or those artists who submitted on time could be contacted with the offer that they can send in more images. (This doesn't help if funding was an issue, but maybe by offering the juror a show a new payment arrangement could be made depending on the circumstance.)

For future shows to avoid or to better understand these issues, submission fees can be lowered, prospectuses provided sooner (if they went out late), reminders sent out (if prospectuses were provided too far in advance), and the show hyped up through a wider or different variety of sources. It also helps to be aware of what else is going on at the same time so that you know what other calls have gone out and whether or not they are similar to your own. Sometimes it's easy to oversaturate if there are a bunch of similar calls out at once and artists are picking and choosing which ones to respond to.

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