Association for Visual Arts Gallery in Cape Town

The Association For Visual Arts (AVA) in partnership with Spier, 35 Church Street, Cape Town, is one of Cape Town’s oldest non-profit art galleries, showcasing contemporary South African art in all media. The gallery has been situated in these premises, in the heart of the city centre, since 1971, first as the Metropolitan Gallery, and then in partnership with Spier, who recently bought the building from Metropolitan. AVA’s main priority and objective is the promotion and advancement of visual art and artists in South Africa, with particular emphasis on artists from the Western Cape, both established and emerging, formally trained and self-taught. AVA achieves this goal in several ways. Firstly, AVA hosts exhibitions which change every three weeks. This means that our space is never without an exhibition. An artist does not need to be a member of AVA to hold an exhibition here. All work exhibited goes through a selection procedure. AVA has a selection panel who meet every two months. Any artist who wishes to exhibit at AVA must bring in works on the day of the selection meeting for the panel to review. Their decision is made by majority vote. No feedback is given and their decision is final. It should be noted that being a member of AVA does not guarantee an artist an exhibition here. As the gallery space is divided into three sections, three exhibitions can be held simultaneously and these three shows all share one opening function. An exhibition at AVA comes with expenses. We try our best to keep these costs down by allowing the three exhibitors to share certain costs. However, the cost of gallery rental and invitations is not shared, but is borne by the individual artists. AVA exhibition expenses are among the lowest in Cape Town and our commission is the standard one third on all sales. On being accepted by the selection panel for an exhibition at AVA, the artist should enquire from the gallery staff as to the exhibition expenses that he/she will incur. The artist will then be required to enter into a contract with AVA re his/her exhibition. AVA fundraises annually in conjunction with sponsor, Absolut Vodka, in an event known as Absolut Secret. Money garnered from this exhibition is placed in a separate bank account and is administered by a separate sub-committee of AVA, known as the Artreach committee. The purpose of AVA’s Artreach fund is to assist visual artists with their art-related needs. An artist does not need to be a member of AVA to qualify for funding. However, before any monies can be allocated, the artist must submit a written proposal to the Artreach committee, containing a detailed budget and a clear indication of how the money will be utilized. Artists should bear in mind that being funded by the Artreach fund does not guarantee an exhibition at AVA. The two are entirely separate functions of the gallery and many artists who have received art materials or studio rentals from the Artreach fund have never exhibited here. Furthermore, funding of an artist, for whatever amount, does not guarantee further ongoing funding either. Every time an artist requires funding, a separate letter and budget must be sent to the Artreach committee for their approval. Artists should not assume that because they have received funding once, this automatically entitles them to individual promotion from the gallery. Each grant from the Artreach fund is a separate committee decision and does not carry any benefit other than that contained within the actual grant itself. It should be noted that no member of the AVA gallery staff has signing powers on cheques. This is done by the EXCO of AVA and, since multiple signatures are required on each transaction, this can take several days. AVA is thus not in a position to disburse funding on the spot, for whatever reason or cause. Finally, the AVA gallery director, as a result of a large workload, can only be consulted by appointment. It should not be assumed that the director will be available immediately for the benefit of the public. As in most professions, appointments guarantee personal attention, which should otherwise not be taken for granted.


Association for Visual Arts Gallery