Negotiation is one of the four core principles of a-n/AIR’s Exhibition Payment Guide. This quick guide offers 10 tips for better negotiation.
1. Be prepared
Familiarising yourself with a-n/AIR’s Exhibition Payment Guide as a template for negotiation and researching the organisation or artist you are negotiating with will put you in the best position to achieve your aims.
Artists – research the organisation, how it programmes, artists it has worked with, where the gallery sits in a-n/AIR’s Exhibition Payment Guide’s framework, etc.
Organisations – research the artist, the context for their work, their peer network, their other projects, etc.
2. Have in mind what you want to achieve
Before you start a negotiation, set out what you want to achieve in terms of:
- Things you must achieve
- Things you intend to achieve
- Things you’d like to achieve
Writing down your goals and ideal outcomes will help you focus on your priorities.
3. Make Exhibition Payment the first priority
a-n/AIR’s Exhibition Payment Guide recommends making the agreement on Exhibition Payment the first priority to avoid wasting time on agreeing other aspects of the exhibition if you can’t agree on payment. Once agreed, Exhibition Payment should be ring-fenced to allow subsequent discussion to focus on exhibition production costs.
4. Know your bottom line
Make sure you’re clear about your income needs before preparing a budget and proposal for an exhibition, or negotiating Exhibition Payment. Artists can use a-n’s Artist’s Fees Toolkit if in any doubt. Having a budget helps identify your ‘bottom line’ and thus how far you are willing to negotiate on financial arrangements.
5. Consider non-cash benefits
Any non-cash benefits negotiated should be of real practical or professional value to the artist, not activities or services an organisation should budget for as part of its day-to-day running costs. Things of value might include professional development, mentoring, or access to particular facilities that would otherwise be a cost to the artist, such as studio or work space.
Note that only organisations working with very limited funds, such as artist-led organisations or groups, might offer non-cash benefits in lieu of an Exhibition Payment, see Exhibition Payment Guide for more details.
6. Use active listening
Concentrate on what the other party is saying rather than waiting for them to finish so you can make your own points. Don’t always feel obliged to bring in ‘new’ material when you speak, you can instead summarise what has been discussed to clarify or give time for reflection. Silence is OK too, providing time to gather thoughts or consider what has been proposed so far.
7. Be aware of body language
In face-to-face discussions body language speaks volumes – leaning back and folding your arms sends a signal that you’re ‘closed to discussion’, whilst keeping eye contact and maintaining a normal sitting position says the reverse.
8. Aim for ‘win win’
An agreement cannot be reached until the parties get to a position they can both ‘live with’. As a matter of course, this is generally somewhere between their respective starting points.
Ideally a mutually beneficial agreement can be arrived at where both parties feel comfortable about what has been agreed because both benefit on their own terms. This helps create a good working relationship that can be built on in future.
9. But always be prepared to say no
Be prepared to decline an exhibition offer if there is no Exhibition Payment, if terms are unacceptable, if you think you are being asked to subsidise the organisation’s programme, or you simply can’t afford to take on the exhibition on the money offered.
10. Consider further training
Negotiation is a skill that comes with practice – consider signing up for some professional development training to support developing negotiation skills.
This is an edited version of a guide from a-n Resources. It is provided here to support the implementation of a-n/AIR’s Exhibition Payment Guide, the outcome of the Paying Artists Campaign. For full access to a-n’s member resources and other benefits go to www.a-n.co.uk/join
More on a-n.co.uk
Artist’s Fees Toolkit
Enables artists to calculate an individual daily rate for services they supply based upon their unique circumstances and overheads, and to prepare quotes when pitching for freelance work.