The costs related to exhibiting media art installations vary widely, based on the nature and complexity of the specific works. In addition to the media components, these installations may include sculptural objects, site-specific environments, and significant construction requirements. Installations are typically loaned from an institution, collection, or from the artist directly. In addition to an artist's fee, an exhibition budget might include costs for acquiring or renting playback and display equipment, production and fabrication, expert technical support for installing and maintaining the work during the exhibition, acquiring exhibition copies or software of the media components, and shipping. The following are examples of the types of expenditures one might anticipate for an exhibition of media-based installations.
Please visit Agreements & Contracts for a useful budget template developed by the Matters in Media Arts consortium.
Loan Fee/Artist Fee
When borrowing an artwork from an artist or gallery, institutions generally do not have to pay a loan fee. However it is good practice to pay artists an exhibition fee. Museums and film/video distributors more often charge a fee for a single-channel work in distribution. (See Single-channel video Budget.) Depending on the size of the institution, the show, and the nature of the artwork, this fee can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
The exhibition equipment required varies greatly depending upon the specific works. It is important to determine early in your planning whether there is dedicated equipment that will be shipped with the piece, or if you will need to purchase or rent equipment.
If you expect to continue exhibiting media art in the future, it is best to invest in high quality industrial grade equipment. While the fact that equipment and technology is frequently changing is a good argument for renting, the costs associated with renting equipment from audiovisual rental houses is often is half of, or close to, the purchase price of the unit itself. If your budget requires you to rent, the equipment should also include technical support throughout the run of the exhibition and quick replacement of equipment if it fails.
In planning your equipment budget, its important to know what specifications to compare when researching manufactures and models. For example, with regards to video projectors, such specifications include type (LCD, DLP, etc.), brightness (lumens), resolution, inputs, contrast ratio, and lamp type. Direct communication with the artist or artist’s representative is essential when making decisions on equipment purchases. You may need to factor in the following equipment costs:
Please refer to Equipment & Technical Issues for a detailed look at the equipment one may encounter when exhibiting media installation works.
If the exhibiting institution does not employ a technician it is advisable to hire a technical expert (in addition to regular installation staff) to advise on installation, maintenance, and deinstallation. All three phases of the show's run must be reflected in the budget. Often the artist or the artist’s assistants themselves have the technical knowledge to install the work and can assist in developing this aspect of the budget.
Construction and Fabrication
The cost of building out the space can also add considerably to the budget, which varies depending on the specifics of the work and the design of the exhibition. Construction costs may include:
Packing and Shipping
Depending on what is being shipped, shipping expense can be a major variable. If equipment is shipped with the work this can help defray equipment costs, but can add to shipping costs. It is important to note the condition of the work prior to shipment to your institution. Is the equipment new? Has it been serviced? Do the projectors have extra lamps? Have mounting hardware or other fixtures been provided?
For problems like faulty equipment, scratched or broken DVDs, etc., it is always a good idea to factor in a contingency budget. A 10-15% contingency is standard.