One of the key elements to a successful exhibition is a venue that is flexible enough to cater for a creative show. Ideally the premises will have large open spaces and flat walls to hang the work on. Finding such a venue for free was challenging to say the least.
Initial enquires with established venues such as the HAT Factory were received with requests for large sums of money and as we were early in our fund raising efforts we were reluctant to commit to such a deal.
Eventually a call to the manager of the Galaxy Centre, Bridge Street, Luton was rewarded by a positive response.
A meeting was arranged and we were shown a succession of rooms which led eventually to a huge bingo hall. The venue manager confirmed the premises was available at no cost as it had been empty for eight years. Initial jubilation though was short lived as the ‘fly in the ointment’ was that the premises was available under the condition that the local authority did not charge the venue a business rates charge for our use.
It took over a week to get the confirmation to the venue’s satisfaction that they were not going to be charged rates on the empty space during our use.
The next step was to obtain public liability insurance to ensure if we accidentally damaged any part of the building that the venue would be covered. This we got via a-n The Artists Information Company’s AIR (Artists Interaction and Representation) scheme, which you join for £36 per year and as part of the membership you get free insurance.
Next we were asked to carryout a risk assessment on the venue space. Our first port of call to complete this was to turn to our tutors expecting previous exhibitions to have also had risk assessments completed on them. Alas this was the first time one had been asked for so we had no template to work from.
The internet provided an answer with a detailed and easy to read document from the Health and Safety Executive entitled: Risk Assessment, a brief guide to controlling risks in the workplace.
The guidance was as follows:
Examine all areas for tripping hazards such as cables, uneven surfaces. Check all electrical sockets, cables and plugs for damage prior to use. Plan out emergency escape routes to evacuate the public should the fire alarm sound. Barrier doors to prevent members of the public from wandering around the empty building, but keeping the emergency exit free from obstructions. Erect signs where appropriate to indicate ‘NO ENTRY’. Examine cable routes for projectors and CCTV cameras to ensure they do not cause a hazard. Finally to ensure we were easily identifiable we would be wearing our own ‘Inglorious Artist’ T shirt.
Once the survey of the premises was done a value was attributed to each identified hazard and steps made to ‘reduce the risk’. The completed risk assessment was then forwarded to the venue manager for his approval. No response to the risk assessment was ever received.
Then the difficult task of allocating space to each artist could begin and the planning of the grouping of pictures and the sizes of each image and spacing them along the available walls.