Artist Run Initiatives #1

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Artist-Run-Initiatives (ARIs) are an increasingly popular option as studio and gallery spaces. They have long played an important role in showing the work of early career and experimental artists and serve as a vital point of connection for the creative community, often filling the gap between tertiary institutions and commercial or state-funded galleries.

We spoke to the key people behind two of Adelaide’s ARIs and asked them about what it takes to establish, feed and grow these key creative venues. In part two of our ARIs toolkit we will speak with Bernadette Klavins and Elisa Bonato from FELTspace, but first, we went to one of Adelaide’s newest venues The Collective Haunt and spoke to founder Jane Skeer.

Jane Skeer opened The Collective Haunt in March 2018 and has since delivered an exciting exhibition program and filled the studio spaces, all while growing her own practice. We sat down with Jane to find out more about how she got Collective Haunt Incorporated started and just what’s involved.

Why did you open Collective haunt Inc?
I think Adelaide needs more spaces for artists to work and exhibit, and there is a strong demand for this kind of space. As artists we need a place to come together, to support each other, to work, discuss and create work in a positive and supportive environment. Listening to my peers, I decided to open a space that provided additional opportunities for South Australian artists, especially emerging artists, to experiment, play and take risks in developing new bodies of work. Collective Haunt Inc. encourages an effective team work environment delivering skills in curatorial and installation practices while nurturing various leadership roles. Occupying a residence on The Parade, Norwood, was the perfect opportunity to invite the public inside a fully functional contemporary arts hub.

What governance model do you have in place?
We have two committees – a studio committee and a gallery committee – to oversee the various tasks that need to be done in each area. These include marketing, account keeping, managing exhibition applications, scheduling exhibitions, serving drinks at the openings etc. There is a lot to be done, and the committees are still being properly established but essentially that is the model.
The committees are made up of studio tenants, but I would be happy to include other volunteers.

What are some of the key obligations you needed to address before opening the doors?
We needed a lawyer for starters to explain the huge amount of paperwork supplied through obtaining a commercial lease agreement. Nicholas Linke was our life saver here helping me to understand the many emailed documents coming my way. He patiently explained everything I needed to do and sign in my language. He assisted me in starting up an Incorporated Association and guided in establishing the rules for Collective Haunt Incorporated.
We registered a business name, an ABN and Tax File Number.
We had to set up a Business Transaction & Savings account for Collective haunt Inc. and this came with a large amount of paperwork to prove we were a not for profit association.The hardest thing for us was gaining enough funding to build dividing walls, electricity and painting costs to establish this studio complex. We attempted a fund raising campaign on Pozible and didn’t reach our target, so then I personally emailed those that did offer and was blown away with the support received, both financially and discounts on products.

How did you find your space?
Online. The space had been vacant for a few years, and we have been lucky to find a great landlord who is keen to see the space used. He’s helped us make a couple of modifications/improvements to make the space more suited to our needs. We were also offered a three-year lease which means we have an opportunity to establish ourselves in the space and in the broader community.

Can you explain a bit about the way the space is used?
We have a gallery space and 16 studio spaces that house 20 studio tenants at the moment. The goal is to keep the studio rent as affordable as possible, so we set them to cover our running costs. Our current tenants work across different mediums including painting, sculpture and installation.

How do you manage your exhibition program?
We do call outs for proposals and often try and time it to suit grant application schedules – hopefully giving artists a chance to apply for funding for their exhibition.
We charge $500 per exhibition, $100 deposit and then $400 to be paid at the time the work is installed. The work on show does not need to be for sale, but if it is sold we take a 30% commission. We also operate a cash bar at the opening. These are the main ways we earn an income from the gallery.

Do artists need any insurance as a studio tenant or if they’re exhibiting?
It is recommended that all studio artists and exhibiting artists of Collective Haunt Inc. have their own public liability insurance.

How did you fund the set up of the space?
I ran a Pozible campaign and also a targeted fundraising campaign that helped me reach my first target. I was also really lucky to get a paint sponsor, who provided all the paint for the space – and we needed a lot! I also put a lot of my own money into the space which I am slowly recovering as we earn some income, and family also helped by doing a lot of the setting up/minor construction that the space needed.

How did you spread the word about The Collective Haunt?
Social Media and emails. We used emails, Facebook and Instagram to share details of our fundraising campaign, opening and for all ongoing promotion including exhibitions and call outs to artists.

What’s the future for The Collective Haunt?
Our exhibition schedule for next year is looking strong, so we hope to we’ve moved to a six week exhibition rotation which should be more manageable.
We aim to have a space for workshops and classes. The sense of community in the space amongst the artists here is very strong and we hope to build on that by bringing in other people through an occasional workshop program. It might also provide an additional income stream for us.
There are always plenty of things we could do, and I hope to get some more volunteers to help us achieve even more.

Collective Haunt Incorporated is located at Level 1, 68 The Parade, Norwood, it comprises 15 artists’ studios and a 7 x 3.5m exhibition space. Collective Haunt is focussed on supporting a diverse range of artistic talent through its studios and exhibition program.

Guildhouse financial members are able to obtain one on one professional development support about many areas of their practice. Contact us for more information.

All photographs courtesy The Collective Haunt Inc.