Cheltenham Art

The Cheltenham Open Air Art Exhibition

The Cotswolds town of Cheltenham Spa is well known for its annual Festival, which incorporates Literature, Music and the Arts, as well as an acclaimed Science Festival.  The Open Air Art Exhibition is an additional attraction in the town during the festival and has been running each year since 1969.  It showcases the art of over 100 locals painters over a 4 week period, and is organised by an Exhibition Committee of eleven artists.  The Committee is voluntary and exists only to organise the Cheltenham Open Air Art Exhibition.

The Exhibition is open to all local artists and is not based upon the individual merit of the artwork: Application forms are sent out in mid-March to artists who have exhibited recently or who expressed an interest in participating.  The available screens are then allocated to applicants on a first come, first served basis.  The work exhibited covers a spectrum of talent, incorporating professional artists and relative beginners alike. This format is very popular with the artists themselves, and the event is always over-subscribed.

'Imperial Gardens' featured on 'Cotswold Life' coverThe event is also very popular with the people of Cheltenham.  It provides a colourful annual pageant of original artwork, and offers the potential for real bargains: the commission charged by the event is small  compared with that charged by Galleries (who have far higher overheads), and this is reflected in the prices of the artwork on offer.  Typically you can expect to pay half the price you would be charged in a gallery!

Saying that, staging this event is becoming an increasingly expensive activity. The cost of the mandatory public liability insurance has followed the general trend in insurance premiums over the last few years; rapid escalation.  The scaffolding is also expensive.  The event is funded by fees paid by the artists themselves, and the levies taken from the sale of their paintings, which are currently 10%. 

In effect, the Exhibition is reliant upon the commercial success of its exhibiting artists to maintain itself each year. 

The economics of the event is thus market-led and driven by the art-lovers of Cheltenham and its environs.  We owe them a debt of thanks for their support down the years, and hope to continue to offer them excellent quality and value for years to come.

Here's a selection of web-pages where we're mentioned:,%20News_zone.htm 

Our thanks go to our sponsors - Midwinters Solicitors, Willans Solicitors and The Chelsea Building Society.

2009 Cheltenham Festival

 40th Open Air Art Exhibition


2009 is our 40th year, and we celebrated with an opening ceremony on Saturday 20th June with the Mayor of Cheltenham.  


A short video of the speeches made at the Opening Ceremony

Images from the opening ceremony of the 40th Open Air Art Exhibition with Christine Smith and Mr Lloyd Surgenor, Mayor of Cheltenham.  I will compile a page about this year's event in the near future.


There will be four separate one week exhibitions to run consecutively.  The dates will be as follows:

WEEK 1     Saturday 20th June to Sat 27th June inclusive (8 days)     

WEEK 2     Sunday 28th June to Saturday 4th July inclusive (7 days) 

WEEK 3     Sunday 5th July to Saturday 11th July inclusive (7 days)  

WEEK 4     Sunday 12th July to Sunday 19th July inclusive (8 days)  

Applications will be considered for 2010 from any local artist or group (approximately 20 miles radius around Cheltenham) to hire a screen for one week.    Please contact Frances Arrow for details (01242) 243673 and to be put on our mailing list.  Alternatively, you can visit the exhibition while it is on and provide your details to the steward.

The screens are approximately 6 feet high.  It is suggested that new exhibitors apply for a half screen.  The hire charge will be from 22 per screen and from 11 per half screen per week.  In addition, a commission of 10% will be levied on each picture sold.

Pictures should be priced in multiples of 5, e.g. 35, 40, 45 etc, a with a minimum price of 20.

There will be stewards on duty to deal with sales and queries.  The exhibition runs daily between 10am and 8pm (finishing half an hour earlier than previous years).  Please see the list of regulations supplied below.

Contact Details

If you have any enquiries about the event, please contact Frances Arrow, who is the Committee member in charge of screen allocations:

Frances Arrow   (01242) 243673

The Exhibition's  Committee

Christine Smith (Chairperson & Treasurer),  Frances Arrow (Allocations), Andy Lloyd (Deputy Chair, Publicity),  Mike Kingston (Stewards Wk4), Bev Perry (Stewards, Wk2), Clive Lawrence , Jane Ware (Assistant Treasurer, Stewards Wk 1,), Margaret Wallace (Stewards, Wk3), Alex Wallace , and Jo Hurlston.

Regulations for Artists

(Updated for 2009)

1)   The paintings exhibited must be the artist's own original work.  Paintings involving any reproduction process of any description are not allowed; for example - no prints, no photocopies, no computer-generated images, no hand coloured prints.  In addition, no copies of the work of other artists are allowed except in the case of the 'old masters' when suitable attribution must be made on the label and the back of the painting.  We are legally required to ensure that this exhibition does not infringe copyright laws.

2)   Pictures must be properly framed and suitable presented for hanging.  Clip frames are allowed but should not exceed approximately 14" x 11" for safety reasons.  Block canvases of the sort used for oils and acrylics will be accepted without frames.  These must be the type with staple-free edges which permits the picture being continued round the edges of the canvasses. All other canvasses must be framed.  Artists will be asked to remove any paintings not considered to be framed properly.

3)   Paintings must be labelled with the labels provided and in the manner which will be specified in the acceptance form.

4)   Exhibitors will be responsible for hanging their work each morning by 10am, and removing each evening at 8.00pm, but not before.  Failure to comply with these times may result in the screen being re-allocated.  On days of severe weather it may only be possible to mount a limited exhibition which will be at the discretion of the Duty Committee Member.  You must turn up to hear the decision as whether or not to hang the exhibition under those conditions.  On the last evening of each week all pictures must be taken away.

5)   Exhibitors must not display advertising material on the screen or labels, e.g. "commissions taken".

6)   Each exhibitor is responsible for filling the screen adequately for the full period.  In order to maintain a balanced effect on the screen paintings must not touch each other or overlap .  Please make sure your pictures do not overlap onto another screen.

7)   Individual permission must be sought from the duty steward for the removal of any paintings from the screen.

8) Neither the organising Committee nor the Cheltenham Borough Council can be held responsible in the event of loss, damage or theft.  Your attention is drawn to the notes on security on your paintings on the form which will be sent to you if you are allocated a screen.

9)   The decision of the Committee, or of the Duty Committee Member acting on behalf of the Committee, is final on all matters related to the hanging or removal of paintings and the allocation of screen space.  The Committee eserve the right to remove any works considered unsuitable and not in compliance with the rules.

10)  When a painting is sold the artist, or representative, is responsible for collecting the payment from the Duty Committee Member or duty steward and for paying the appropriate levy due on the date the sale is made .

11)  If you are allocated a screen you will be expected to steward.  This is a condition of exhibiting at the exhibition.



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