Artist Alliance Talk by Maggie Gresson

Carterton painter Annette Dunnage-Roy has been a member of the Artists Alliance since the 1990s and organised the event because she has been impressed with the professionalism and support received so far. "It's important if artists want to grow, to find out what's available outside of the Wairarapa and the Artists Alliance provides this in one package." Through being a member, she has found out about opportunities for painters in New Zealand and internationally; received advice on the costs of participating in the Venice Biennale, and on how to act when an artwork was damaged during unpacking at a venue.

John Casey, who runs Silver Image Photography in Greytown and had a solo exhibition at Aratoi in 2008, was one of those who attended: "Like a lot of artists, I'm interested in exploring the possibilities of working with a dealer gallery at some stage, and want to know more about breaking into that area, so I found it useful."

The Artist Alliance has published The Code of Practice for Artists and Dealers which sets out best practice for managing copyright, contracts, and obligations for the artist and gallery. An annual subscription gives members a quarterly magazine, monthly newsletter and access to online resources. Maggie advises artists to ask what a gallery is offering in return for their commission, which can sometimes be up to 45%. She also pointed out that an entry form is actually a contract and, once signed, the artist has signed to its conditions.

Helene Carroll, who had a solo exhibition Thinking About Matisse at Aratoi earlier this year, thinks young artists particularly would benefit from membership: "They have an overview of artists' residencies, galleries and events listings throughout New Zealand, and they seem to be well resourced and have the interests of artists at heart."

Catherine Day, whose exhibition gnossienne is currently showing at Aratoi, says the session made her realise that there are professional standards that can be adhered to by practising artists, but it also got her thinking about a home-grown, local network for artists: "I think a lot of us would benefit from a forum where we could share information and experiences, for example, hear from someone who has been on overseas residency and how they achieved that. It 's good to be able to look at the residencies available nationwide but there's like being able to talk to people here at a local level about what they've done and what's worked for them. Aratoi could be a good focus for an art discussion group," she said.

Maggie says she was pleased with the response in Wairarapa and hopes to make an annual visit here.