Exhibition proposal tips

Exhibitions are one of the most effective ways for artists to communicate their ideas with the public. They can be held in a variety of venues and formats.

Exhibitions need planning and adequate preparation, and the first step usually consists of writing an exhibition proposal.

The purpose of an exhibition proposal is to effectively communicate your ideas to the gallery. As we receive a large number of proposals from artists and groups each year, we have listed some tips that might be helpful when drafting your proposal.


  • It is important to follow all the guidelines set out in an application form and to read all the information provided. Don’t forget to read over your application and ensure you have completed every section! Make sure you get a friend or arts professional to have a read over your proposal. They say a writer is only as good as their editor!
  • Once you have an idea for an exhibition, do some research on the topic and examine other artists working in a similar way. Gain a bit more knowledge about your chosen medium and observe the way other artists explore their concepts and ideas.

Ideas and Concepts

  • To begin writing about your ideas, identify the topics that interest you in point form on a separate piece of paper.
  • Ask yourself, how many separate exhibitions are contained in my list? Can you narrow it down to one clear, succinct idea?
  • As an example, you might be an artist who is passionate about cars, and their internal and external design. This forms the central idea of your exhibition concept. If you were to also talk about the ability of cars to have positive and negative impacts on our lives, it could create too many topics of conversation in the one exhibition. Having one central concept will unify your artwork and will show your ability to present a strong, resolved body of work.
  • The Exhibition Concept section of the application form is your chance to tell the gallery what you are trying to communicate and discuss with your work, how it is achieved and why.

Exhibition Logistics

  • There are practical considerations when planning your proposed exhibition and it is important to have an idea about what you will be making. The Artwork Description section of your proposal is your opportunity to provide a clear picture of what your proposed exhibition will look like and what it will contain.
  • Do some research and plan your ideas using a floor plan or diagram. Visit the gallery so you are familiar with the different gallery spaces and what area you think is appropriate for your work.
  • Consider the design, placement and type of objects comprising your exhibition as these tools operate as a supporting framework, and another way for you to effectively communicate the message and ideas contained in your work.
  • Provide a detailed description of the artwork you plan to include in your exhibition. Will it be paintings? Or sculpture? Or both? How many? Where will they be placed? Consider if you need any special equipment to install your exhibition and mention it in your proposal.