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The Business of the Visual Arts Short Course

Key information

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Covid-19 update: The learning doesn’t have to stop, join our online community. We will be delivering courses remotely until further notice. Live tutor support and virtual lessons will take place during advertised teaching hours. The classes are taught in small groups, so you’ll get lots of support from your tutor. Book now.

This short course will provide an understanding of the day-to-day management of an artist studio and a commercial gallery. You will gain knowledge about the art market, business planning, marketing and copyright.

Why choose this course?

This Business of the Visual Arts part-time course is designed for emerging artists, potential or new gallery owners, and individuals interested in working in the visual arts. It provides insight into the management of a gallery and an artist’s practice.

Led by industry experts you will develop a wide set of skills complemented by the flexibility of evening study.

Delivered as 10 weekly evening classes, City's Business of the Visual Arts short course combines academic expertise with practical knowledge - ideal for people looking to gain in-depth knowledge of the business side to visual arts.

Course overview

Led by an experienced gallery owner, with experience curating major projects at the British Museum and the Tate Gallery, students will learn how to successfully manage a gallery or exhibition.

You will gain insight into the visual arts business and practical tips and knowledge on a range of essential areas such as planning, copyright and marketing.

  • “ The tutor has vast experience in the art world - from large institutions to commercial galleries - which she generously passes on with candour and clarity. ”

    Bushra Sarker


  • “ Excellent overview of the subject - Renee [the tutor] had the right experience and contacts to teach the course well. The tutor was interested in student projects and brought in good external lecturers. Thank you. ”

    Oliver Rowe


What will I learn?

What will I learn?

The course explores art market mechanisms and business planning and includes a visit to an alternative gallery space as well as an artist’s studio.

Topics covered:

  • Contracts and agreements;
  • Copyright;
  • Professional presentation;
  • Marketing and branding;
  • Art fairs;
  • Pricing structure.



Prerequisite knowledge

No prior knowledge in visual art required.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

Informal assessment will take place through group discussion, class room activities, and questions and answers sessions, as guided by your tutor

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

While we encourage you to read the books on the reading list for your course, we recommend that you speak to the tutor before investing in the purchase of any essential text.

There are a number of magazines available for subscription or online.

Arts Newspaper
Artist Newsletter
Museums Practice

  • Baker Tilly Chartered Accountants, 1997, Artist Rights Programme - Taxation and Employment Status of Visual Artists, National Artists Association.
  • D. Duffin, Investigating Galleries, AN Publication.
  • R. Hill, S. O'Sullivan, T. O'Sullivan, (2nd ed) 2003, Creative Arts Marketing, Butterworth and Heinemann Publication.
  • HM Customs and Excise, Notice 703, 2010, Exports and removals of goods from the United Kingdom.
  • HM Customs and Excise, Notice 718, 2010, Value added Tax: Margin
    Scheme for second-hand goods, works of art, antiquities and collectors items
  • K. Allen, P. Shaw, 1997, Artist Rights Programme - A review of artists' earnings for exhibitions and commissions, National Artists Association.
  • S. Jones, Fundraising, AN Publication.
  • McClean and Schubert, 2002, Dear Images: Art, Copyright and Culture, Ridinghouse.
  • D. McMullan, 1994, Be your own Boss, Kogan Page Ltd., London.
  • E. Moody, J. Summerton, 1995, The Business of Being an Artist, City, University of London
  • R. Murphy, S. Deeks, S. Nolan, Money Matters, AN Publication.
  • I. Robertson, 2005, Understanding International Art Markets and Management, Routledge, London.
  • S. Simon, 2003, Art and Copyright,  Hart Publishing, Oxford and Portland, Oregon.
  • J. Staines, Exhibiting and Selling Abroad, AN Publication.
  • Boyden Southwood Associates, Marketing the Visual Arts, Arts Council of England.
  • Thompson, JMA (2nd ed), 1992, Manual of Curatorship, 2nd edition. Butterworth, London.

Tutor information

  • Renée Pfister

    Renée Pfister has built an esteemed and longstanding career as a consultant, curator, registrar and business development manager in the art world.

    She was part of the curatorial team at the British Museum where she was involved in realising major projects such as the Great Court and the Weston Gallery of Roman-Britain.

    At the Tate Gallery she worked as a Registrar from 1999 to 2005 and was responsible for managing acquisitions and ground-breaking international exhibitions from the Tate’s collection.

    She also participated in a Registrars’ exchange programme at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, wrote a chapter for the Routledge publication ‘Understanding International Art Markets & Management’ and worked for the late Sir Anthony Caro as an advisor.

    Since 2010 she has run her own art and gallery consultancy,  has curated exhibitions at the German Embassy and was a key figure in the Foundation of the Victoria Museum in Kiev.  She offers support to gallery owners new in the business, career mentoring services to emerging and mid-career artists and writes regularly for the Family Office Magazine on art related topics.

    In addition, she teaches at City, University of London, Lancaster University and Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

Next steps

This Curation and Exhibition Management Short Evening Course teaches you the fundamentals of managing and curating an exhibition.…