See also Annette Clancy on the science and art of pricing and costing your work on VAI 

Preparing a budget is time consuming, but is generally an essential part of any proposal and does help focus on the detail (possibilities) and planning for the project. In most public art commissions, budgets will be fixed and scope to seek further funding may be unlikely or depend on the nature of a particular commission or other available funding a commissioner may be able to source. 

A good, well developed budget shows thought and can demonstrate a level of research. Present a careful breakdown of costs in a clear format and include as many costs as possible with quotes from suppliers where useful. Itemise the budget and always remember to include an artist's fee. 

Be clear also if the budget you are providing is indicative rather than firm/fixed. If you are using materials such as metals or services that may be sensitive to price fluctuations. Might be possible to have them index linked, or factor in contingency to give you greater flexibility.

In site-based commissions it often possible to have installation costs covered by the commissioner and contractor, but this needs to be confirmed and negotiated. Ancillary costs such as launches, hospitality, publicity, printed material, etc. should be covered by the commissioner and not by the artist, but this also will need clarification.

Budget breakdown

Budget breakdown for public art commissions can involve the following

i)    Artists Fees
ii)   Other professional fees
iii)  Material, equipment and production costs
iv)  Transport and installation costs
v)   Presentation costs
vi)  Administration
vii)  Insurances
viii) Contingencies
ix)   VAT
x)    Documentation

When making a proposal make sure you stay within the commissioning budget, unless you have proven funding from other sources.

Artists' fees:

Artists' fees is a very tricky area and difficult to provide any set guidance. They are generally not separated out from the total project budget and artists have to make an estimate based on overall costs. A general estimate is for artists fees to be between 20 - 25% of total budget. However, in very large budgets, fees will be costed at a lower percentage. Another difficulty in estimating fees is that different projects by their nature require different fee structures, for example, a project where the artist gives a lot of their time through research or process-based engagement may require more of the artists' time and smaller production costs so a more substantial artists' fees can be supported. In a few instances the commissioner separates artists' fee from the production and other costs. In  many cases  the artists' fees are eaten by the production costs and in some cases artists have come away with no fee or very little. This is unfair and artists should always be paid properly.

Other professional fees

The payment of others - subcontracted expertise required in the production and realisation of the project/work.

Transport and Installation costs

In some cases installation can be covered by the commissioning body - generally this is the case if the artwork is aligned to the building programme and the contractors are on site. However, this is not always guaranteed and should be costed.




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