Invitation to tender for Commissioner for Ireland at 54th Venice Art Biennale 2013

Decision date for applications: 10 July 2012

Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council is committed to Ireland’s participation in the Venice Biennale and to increasing opportunities and profile for Irish artists at this key international event. The Venice Biennale serves as a significant global showcase for artists and offers a prominent opportunity for Irish artists to engage with international audiences.

Role of Commissioner

The Commissioner will support the delivery of the project and will lead on management of project, budget (including fundraising), securing venue, communications and press, liaison with the Biennale office and provision of administrative support. The Commissioner may also curate the exhibition or may choose to work with a Curator.  In the case of the Commissioner working with an independent Curator, the Curator must be identified and be party to the submission being made.


A core budget has not yet been set for the 2013 Biennale. Based on the 2011 budget, a figure of approx €300,000 may be used as a guideline. However, the current public and private funding climate may require that a lesser sum is available.


Proposals from an individual, a collective, or an organisation are welcomed.

Applicants must have a proven record of work in the arts and/or cultural sector. The Commissioner and proposed team will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Significant curatorial experience on large scale projects or exhibitions
  • Detailed knowledge of current trends in the visual arts sector both nationally and internationally
  • Experience in project management including liaising with visual arts stakeholders
  • Budget management and reporting
  • Organisational capacity and availability to meet time and travel commitments
  • Proven capacity to manage and deliver a visual arts project of this scale
  • Reporting and editorial skills for documentation and dissemination
  • Networking skills and international connections

It is desirable that applicants have experience of:

  • Developing audiences
  • Working with a range of visual arts constituencies
  • Working with a range of international contacts and networks, which will be of use in disseminating information and generating profile for the exhibition
  • Generating additional funding
  • Experience of working with media in the promotion of arts and cultural projects

Selection process

The selection of a Commissioner will comprise two stages:

Stage one: Open submission as outlined below
Stage two: Shortlist to be invited for interview by selection panel

Submission requirements

Applicants must submit no more than 2 x A4 pages in PDF format outlining:

  1. The curatorial approach, including an initial outline of ideas developed in collaboration with the artist/s proposed for presentation, indicating why you believe this to be the most relevant way to represent Ireland in 2011.
  2. Detail of the artist/s proposed to exhibit, including why you believe this artist's practice best suits your ambition and vision for the event - artist/s' CVs and details of gallery representation should be included with the proposal.
  3. A strategy to engage the Irish arts sector with the Venice event
  4. Your understanding of the tasks involved and details of project management plan, including timeline.
  5. An outline budget including justification of the level of investment identified.
  6. A developed touring strategy for Ireland inclusive of at least three regional venues

Stage Two: Interview

From the information provided in stage one, the selection panel will shortlist a number of potential candidates who will be invited to present in person with the curator to the selection panel.

Those short-listed will be asked to submit a more detailed proposal and visual presentation based on the submission in stage one. At this stage those shortlisted must be in a position to detail how they would deliver the exhibition and how it would engage with the Biennale context. The participants and projects involved must be confirmed together with a budget breakdown based on funding available and fundraising suggestions. They must also be in a position to elaborate on any proposed associated events during the Biennale and the use of marketing and PR. It is key that at this stage applicants can indicate how Ireland's visual art community may benefit in a more general way from this showcasing opportunity.

Terms and conditions

This call for submissions is open to Irish individuals, collectives or organisations based in Ireland or abroad, or to those, of any nationality, resident in Ireland.

  • The Commissioner may not act as a participant in the exhibition
  • Neither the Commissioner nor the Curator may have a commercial relationship with the proposed artist.
  • No fees or expenses will be paid for either submission stage.
  • The receipt of all proposals will be acknowledged. Those shortlisted will be directly informed of the selection panel’s decision by Culture Ireland. Submissions will not be returned.
  • The selection panel’s decision is final.

Deadline for proposals

Submissions should be emailed to and must be received by Tuesday, 10 July 2012 at 5pm.

Background information

It should be noted that

  • Representation will be by a solo artist or collaborative practice. Only in exceptional circumstances will a group show be considered.
  • The artist/s must have been born in or be resident on the island of Ireland
  • Ireland’s representation will generally be of a mid-career artist/collaborative practice, where it is felt that the opportunity to exhibit at Venice will provide a timely opportunity to deepen and extend his/her/their practice and significantly raise his/her/their profile internationally.
  • It will be a clear advantage for the artist/s to have Irish and international gallery representation. 
  • In exceptional cases, internationally renowned established artists may also be considered, although traditional retrospectives will not be supported.
  • It will be a clear advantage for the artist/s to have had a solo exhibition in a publicly funded venue in Ireland and/or abroad.
  • The artist must not have had a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale previously.

Culture Ireland and the Arts Council have a preference to continue to use the Instituto Santa Maria della Pieta as the venue for the exhibition.

Applicants should note that the Irish Museum of Modern Art is agreeable to providing institutional management support.

arrow bullet iconDrain 1985, (wood & steel), Dorothy Cross 1985, Arts Council Virtual Gallery.
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