The role of institutional relationships in shaping the career development of emerging artists



Fillis I, Lee B & Fraser I (2022) The role of institutional relationships in shaping the career development of emerging artists. Arts and the Market, 12 (2), pp. 133-149.

Purpose-The authors consider the role of institutional relationships in providing an exhibition as a launching platform for emerging artists to develop their careers, as well as contributing to the broader creative economy. The authors view this as an entrepreneurial intervention in challenging the status quo through its potential to stimulate artist career development. Design/methodology/approach-Data were collected using a case study approach in order to understand the complex interrelationships between stakeholders of an emerging artists' exhibition at a well-known art institution. A total of 26 interviews were held with a selection of the exhibiting artists, artists from previous years' exhibitions, institution staff, the exhibition selection panel and major prize givers. Findings-The main relationship value created by the institution as perceived by the exhibiting artists was high-level publicity and exposure of their work. Related benefits such as the potential to build career-enhancing networks were also emphasised. Some of the artists interviewed were aware of the art market structure and how they could create and sustain value within it. Others expressed a lack of awareness of and interest in its operationalisation where more assistance from the institution could help. Research limitations/implications-This research focussed on the institutional relationships relating to one organisation, albeit one which leads the way in terms of helping to accelerate emerging artist careers. However, best practice lessons emerge from the research in terms of informing similar institutions elsewhere. The authors move beyond quantitative measurement of cultural value activities in developing in-depth qualitative insight into these relationships so that more nuanced understanding is revealed. Practical implications-There is a need to develop pathways to assist new graduates and for a more strategic focus by art institutions to help develop their careers by creating and sustaining impact and engagement in the marketplace. This will be of interest to policy makers in helping to shape programmes of assistance in the future beyond the art institution. The authors also uncover broader cultural value impacts beyond the exhibition site where these institutional relationships can contribute positively to health and well-being. Originality/value-The exhibition is one of only a very limited number of similar events throughout the UK and can be viewed as a successful entrepreneurial intervention.

Institutional relationships; Professionalization; Emerging artists; Careers; Policy; Market

Arts and the Market: Volume 12, Issue 2

FundersAHRC Arts and Humanities Research Council
Publication date09/09/2022
Publication date online09/08/2022
Date accepted by journal22/07/2022

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Professor Ian Fraser

Professor Ian Fraser

Emeritus Professor, Accounting & Finance