Hampshire County Council’s guide to commissioning artists
If you are interested in commissioning an artist to produce a piece of art these guidelines offer a foundation on which to build and develop your ideas into a workable project. Our aim is to equip you with some ideas of the questions you need to ask, the requirements you need to fulfil and where to find additional information to ensure that your work with an artist is an engaging and enjoyable process that leads to a successful, high quality outcome.
How to use the toolkit
The toolkit covers processes relevant to Hampshire County Council, but the information within it is accessible to all. There is also a section here for artists to dip into, with information on what they need to know when working with the County Council.
The process has been broken down into two broad stages; Preparation and Production, with some key areas to consider at each stage. Try to keep what you do relative to the size of the project. We have included everything here, but make a judgement on what is relevant to your commission.
Depending on what you already know about your project, you can dip into a particular area of interest or look at the whole process. It is important to remember that consideration of the Production stage will inform your Preparation.
The Preparation section is broken down into 6 key steps, which can be undertaken in the following order but individual projects may require adjustments to the sequence.
- The vision- what you want, why and where you want it
- The budget- what it will cost
- The brief- what the artist needs to know
- Selection and commission - finding the artist
- Risk assessment - avoiding problems
- The contract - who does what and when
The Production stage covers what goes into making the work and developing the context for it, then bringing the work to its place and audience. Production is not broken down into a chronological sequence and does not claim to be comprehensive but does offer a set of questions and suggestions to help you think about the particular approach for your project.
- Management - Ensuring things happen on time as agreed and any problems are dealt with
- Education - Community/audience participation
- Fabrication - Making it
- Monitoring - Quality, communication and relationships
- Publicity - Telling people it’s happening
- Installation - Monitoring the process
- Launch/completion - Showing people it’s there and tying up the loose ends
- Evaluation – Documenting the work and the project
- Maintenance - Keeping up appearances
- Decommission - Amicable separation
Many of these key stages feedback to and influence each other as a project progresses. For example, you develop a brief for a project prior to selection of an artist but the chosen artist has new ideas that result in a need to rewrite the brief. An artist could be brought in as a paid consultant to help develop the project at any stage, not only to undertake the commission.
You can refer to the guidelines as a checklist to help you keep an overview as the project progresses.
It is difficult to define a standard method of ‘how to do a commission’ because all projects are different… that’s half the fun of working with artists; to create something new! However, we hope that the information provided here will offer some consistency, build good practice, quality, confidence and shared knowledge across the organisation.
How to use these guidelines
You can use the guideline as a checklist to help you keep an overview as the project progresses. It is difficult to define a standard method of ‘how to do a commission’ because all projects are different… that’s half the fun of working with artists; to create something new!
However, the information here will offer some consistency, build good practice, quality, confidence and shared knowledge across the organisation.
There are things to be learnt from every commission, so we would appreciate your comments and observations on the guidelines as you put them into practice. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org