Sunday, April 17, 2016

A few thoughts about the new sale process

Now the dust has settled I thought I might set out a few thoughts on the new sale process.

Firstly what worked.  I think having the sale open for longer was a definite winner.  I wasn't convinced about it all at the start but the fact is that more people got to come and see and buy.  I think I was won over when I popped in on the last day of the sale and talked to a mother and daughter who had just bought a card for the daughters bedroom and were so delighted with their purchase.

The one day bun fight just seems so far removed from this.

I think the college were brave to try some different things but some of them didn't work.  The main sale day was far too early.  I think that's the reason the queue was the shortest it's ever been.  There wasn't enough time for people to come to view.  No late night opening before the sale started, only 2 days within which to come.  The fact that the sale was on Sunday morning, with all the transport issues on a Sunday was a really bad idea as well.

To balance the good and the bad I would suggest next year the college open the exhibition earlier, say Monday or Tuesday, have the exhibition and raffle sales on all that week.  Start the sale on the Saturday morning and then keep the sale going for the next 4 or 5 days.

I'm also not convinced that collection day worked.  It felt very flat for me not getting the cards you bought there and then.  There was also no press because there was no opportunity to show pictures of people holding their cards.  Plus it must have been a lot of extra work for the college.

So what about the fewer cards?  I'm not sure why the college decided to send out fewer cards to each artist.  The gallery could easily have housed another 600 to 700 cards as it has in the past.  More cards means more choice and more funds raised.  

So a mixed bag really but I think some of the criticism directed at the college is a little unfair.  They tried something different and it didn't all work but fair play for trying it.  


Lisa said...

I wonder if, in addition to fewer cards being sent out to artists, the smaller number of cards reflected a shorter time period for completion (three weeks instead of six as indicated here

Anonymous said...

I went to the sale this year after giving it a miss for a few years and overall I really liked the changes. I didn't queue up in the morning but went along with my daughter on Sunday afternoon partly because of the twitter encouragement that things would be left to buy. I would estimate about a tenth or maybe twelfth of the cards were still there and I was able to find three cards I really liked to purchase. I'm never looking for big names (not that I would turn down a Rego or Shonibare but I expect they go to the lottery winners or those who camp for a week), but want things that I think are appealing and this year there was an added plus when I discovered two of my artists have works in permanent collections (like the V&A.) So for me much better than my last visit when I queued from 7 a.m. and none of my top 80 choices were available so I ended up choosing a random available number and getting something that I've kept in a drawer ever since. The atmosphere in the afternoon was pleasant and unhurried. But I agree, the picking up was a bit flat and for some people probably a bit of hassle. And I also agree that more cards, even some added late, would have been good. Certainly it seems like the RCA are trying to find a way of letting more people take part in the sale, including people who can't, for any one of a variety of reasons - childcare, disability, jobs - queue for hours or even days. Enjoying your blog, by the way!

pezlow said...

Thanks for both your comments. Lovely to hear about acquisitions people are happy with, do tell me the names and numbers of the cards you got if you would like to, I find it fascinating how different people fall in love with different things.

Gerard Darby said...

You've made a very good and balanced review of the positives and drawbacks of the changes. It was really tiring having to review all the cards on one day (I couldn't make the Friday as I was working) and I just couldn't take them all in properly in just a few hours. It was also a hassle to collect them the following Saturday despite the staff being helpful and the service efficient. I would much rather see funds spent on student bursaries rather than on posting out cards or administering an additional collection day.

I would add as a positive was having the sale back at the Kensington Campus - it is far better than Battersea and the vibe the night before the sale is one of excitement and fun.

I would add as something to improve is just how Secret is marketed - very little on the official website that the sale is for student bursaries and how they help the individual students. I would also like to see a rule in the raffle that asks for some ID from those winning. I am appalled that people are stooping so low as to use false names to purchase additional tickets - surely it would be easy for the college to mark everyone's number when they purchase their maximum number of tickets and ask that people show some form of ID when they win a place in the top 50. It is sad that a charitable event has to do something like this but it really does leave a bad taste in the mouth that people are blatantly cheating.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing what cards you got!!

Unknown said...

I am glad they didn't add cards during the week, that would have been a disaster for people who don't live in London like myself. It was a very expensive event for me , cost of train tickets for both days 120.00, cost of accommodation 140.00 , 40 on raffle tickets ! so together with my cards and food it was best part of 500 ! beginning to wonder if it's worth it when i could spend that on one artist which i love. It was not enjoyable either having to go through all the cards and make a list the day before the journey to London. Another negative was the lack of information and the way it was only given in dribs and drabs , again not good for those having to travel and plan their journeys, it feels very much like a "London only" event to me. Having said all that I will be back next year and was very happy with my cards. I probably wont bother wasting money on the raffle though there were a few there that had also won it last year, that cannot be fair.

Neil said...

I felt that the collection date wasn't great for me as I was coming from Glasgow and now have to hope that my postcards are treated well by Royal Mail. I was very happy about not putting postcards up during the week as that would have, for me, partly ruined the RCA secret event as I would be unable to attend for more than one day. I personally didn't too mind the cost of the raffle going up and I think this was a better way of raising money rather than a full week of exhibition and sale together. I'd personally prefer going back to exhibition for a week then sale with collections, then a further day of sales for unsold cards then a final day of sales whereby all buyers, even those who have previously purchased cards, could purchase four.

On an unrelated note I'd just like to thank the RCA Secret Blog for the excellent work! Reading it in the run up to the RCA Secret is for me part of the fun of the build up and then then seeing what comes up in the aftermath of the sale and I'd just like to extend my thanks!

Gerard Darby said...

Yes I echo Neil's point and it was remiss of me not to say how useful this blog has been and how it adds to the excitement of the event.

Anonymous said...

Like some of your other commenters, the changes last year weren't great for me. In the past I have been able to travel from the North on the Saturday, queue (not great, but over the years I made plenty of interesting and entertaining 'queue buddies'), purchase and then return home. It made for an exciting trip and, although I never got first pick, I always went home with some great postcards. Last year this all changed and I couldn't attend at all (trains on Sundays start later and take an hour longer). I understand why RCA would want to make changes but for us provincials it's yet another example of Londoncentricity. Ah well! Meanwhile, thanks for keeping us informed!