Brisbane Arts Industry Immersion Program: A summary of my experience – Nanette Balchin

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Brisbane Arts Industry Immersion Program: A summary of my experience – Nanette Balchin


What did I take away from the experience of visiting 6 ARI’s; 4 commercial galleries; 3 Arts organisations?

(An ARI is an Artist Run Initiative)

  1. ARI’s come about as a result of the energy, commitment and passion of the artists/arts workers who create them and manage them.
  2. Each ARI has its own model or structure. These models are endless. They seem to arise because Artists want to grow their practice or collectively want to create spaces to support other artists achieve their potential outside of the mainstream commercial gallery platforms.
  3. All ARI’s are about exposure and devotion to wanting a practice that can be shared with their community. ARI’s help create an environment where artists can develop their practice through art making, exhibitions, mentoring, collaborations.
  4. ARI’s grow from a group of artists OR individual artists’ needs and values and they range in size, shape and format.
  5. I was surprised that no ARI’s we visited were artists “organisations” like ACQI, CPI or The Mill Gallery. No ARI’s focused on the sale of art works or products as their primary goal or purpose.
  6. ARI’s are not often sustainable financially in the long term. In the short term they can work.


  • Outer Space has a Board of 8 Arts professionals and a Manager (3days) and runs 2 great Gallery spaces, 6 studios for lease, a community room for forums, meetings, films talks and varied events. This ARI has a long term vision of sustainability. Plus potential for rural/regional AIR project.
  • The Solyent Spot is 1 artist doing her thing running events on a suburban unit block roof top verandah above her flat. – Credible + reputation + successful event
  • Stable is an Artist and Curator who have created an exhibition space under an old Qlder house
  • The Third Quarter is a NFP social enterprise devised by one artist with 2 Galleries studios and a small retail shopfront and a diverse mix of exhibitions artists and performances focuses on diversity and inclusiveness. She has a goal of sustainability but is driven by values of inclusivity and diversity.
  • Box Copy is NFP run by 5 professional/ academic Co- directors with some grant funding + 2 small shopfront “gallery” spaces and has run since 2007. Tied to grants. Academic approach to the experimental and innovative art scene
  • House Conspiracy is focused on 6 week access to studio space and AIR mentoring and art work development with “showcase” events amongst artists. Focus on art making and support.

Needs ARI’s met

  • Gallery spaces for contemporary or experimental and innovative art works – often short term shows
  • Exhibitions are supported by ARI – documentation, openings free, mentoring, mixed events
  • Studio spaces to work in, be supported, mentored – free or user pays
  • Mentoring support for artists while in studio or within the ARI eg  House Conspiracy ARI
  • Quality “Documentation” of their process or their exhibition often provided by ARI and is of great value to artists
  • Networking between ARI’s helps with audience, reputation, promotion and diversity

How ARI’s might work for an artists’ organization: What do we want to create for and with artists? What gap or need are we aiming to fill?

  1. An ARI could evolve from any group of artists if they have a distinct purpose and vision in mind – for eg  a short term exhibition space or studio space for artists, a pop up exhibition or party or short term installation event
  2. “No gallery” space is not a problem as artists as a group can hire or create a venue in an unusual location for a short term show
  3. There are many ways to create a different way of exhibiting or helping artists locally – studio space, talks, mentors – think outside the box.
  4. Whatever the purpose: it’s achievable with collective effort & commitment AND it can be easy & collaborative.

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