back to the homepageAll material is copyrighted. Click to read the details.find an artistwhat´s going downwho are we and what do we do?
back to the homepageback to the homepagewhat´s new & the site all about itOrdering Back issues of Arts Dialoguesubmit material / help with our work
find:arts organizationsart news

The Gallery Channel  


Get the latest UK art world news by e-mail FREE from The Gallery Channel
E-mail: with subject SUBSCRIBE and your e-mail address

So the paperless society is upon us. Information is the currency of the future. Instant global communication, interactive media and virtual realities.... But where does the experience of art, of physical representation and direct contact with it in 'real world' exhibitions fit into the digital age?

Already many arts organisations are considering the implications of the information revolution and are making changes accordingly. Roughly 30% of all UK galleries now give an email address as a means of contact, and many of these also have a web site for their organisation. But traditional attitudes dominate the industry. Often poorly funded and lacking the neccessary support afforded by large commericial corporations, many arts organisations have been slow to jump on the Internet bandwagon. Keen to pursuade them otherwise is Nancy Proctor, creator and curator of The Gallery Channel [] and joint founder of Pink Ink., a leading Internet consultancy specialising in providing IT solutions for arts organisations.

Billed as the most comprehensive on-line guide to current exhibitions in Britain, The Gallery Channel is updated every week on Thursdays. With none of the traditional space constraints of printed 'what's on' guides, it provides exhaustive listings, illustrated press releases, digital pictures and virtual walk-throughs for current exhibitions as well as archives of past exhibitions to anyone with Internet access.

Involved in contemporary art for most of her life, Proctor is an ardent supporter of experimental and artist-led projects. Listings are provided free to galleries and artists, ensuring The Gallery Channel is not limited to publicising big name galleries and exhibitions. Nor does The Gallery Channel promote just contemporary art exhibitions, though Proctor admits a certain bias: "We do put more effort into recruiting listings from the new and unknown rather than the 'household name' galleries and artists, mainly because these are so much more difficult for art-goers to find out about. To be honest, you'd have to be living under a rock not to know about the Monet exhibition, and you can't pick up an art magazine this month that doesn't review the Pollock show; but who's going to know that one of the most exciting exhibitions on at the moment is happening in a Medical Museum in Leeds, other than the Yorkshire art stalewarts? And this sort of cutting-edge artist-led initiatives rarely get reviewed or have the funding to produce catalogues, so if we don't cover them, they simply disappear from Art History's archives once they're over."

Launched on October 1, 1998 with only four shows, The Gallery Channel has grown exponentially . The site now represents well over 300 UK galleries and has listed some 1,500 exhibitions. Listings are organised by exhibition name, gallery and artist, both alphabetically by name and by town, so no matter what you remember about the show, chances are you'll find it on The Gallery Channel. Presented initially in a quick-to-download text-only format, the listings pages are equally easy to consult if you're in a hurry, or to browse if you're not quite sure what sort of exhibition you're in the mood for. Further information on most shows, including press releases, digital pictures and virtual walk-throughs, is available from the listings pages with a single mouse click.

Proctor is eager to exploit the fact that London and the UK draws large number of tourists from around the world - people who are prime targets for a what's on service like The Gallery Channel. She believes the Internet is an ideal medium for this: "Open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, the Internet has an international audience and as such can target the foreign visitor as easily as the local." In the near future she wants to make the site available through web kiosks in airports, hotels, tourist information centres - places where tourists might be looking for something to do in the UK. She also sees the potential for The Gallery Channel to expand into digital TV as the technological boundaries between channel-hopping and web-surfing in our homes increasingly blur; in fact, she named The Gallery Channel with this future in mind.

Proctor maintains that The Gallery Channel aims to cater to the broadest art audience conceivable, from the casual tourist to cutting-edge artists & critics - a formidable task in itself. ´The Internet has proven itself most successful in targeting relatively small, specialist communities, which, when united on a global scale, become large enough to be a market worth addressing and advertising to. The art world is one of these specialist communities, but with major cross-over potential to the mainstream. So in some ways The Gallery Channel is analogous to a sports website: following triathalons might be a relatively specialist hobby, but the number of triathalon enthusiasts world wide can be formidable. Plus, sometimes football fans watch triathalons out of curiosity or just for a change!´

Proctor believes that, if embraced, digital technology could revolutionise the art world. Not only does the digital nature of The Gallery Channel ensure ample space to list the unlimited numbers of exhibitions, but the speed and dynamic nature of digital publishing means that the on-line documentation of a show can be published within hours of an exhibition opening and can change throughout and beyond the life of the exhibition, should information change or new material emerge. Yet she is quick to point out that the digital representation of a 'real world' exhibition can in no way replace the actual experience of that space and its artworks; rather, she sees on-line coverage as an inducement to see exhibitions 'in the flesh' and a consolation for those who simply cannot attend a show in person. ´We've found that perhaps The Gallery Channel's most popular feature is its archives, which are used not only by researchers, but by anyone who couldn't afford the time or travel costs to see a show in person.´

However, the conservatism of art world and its relative poverty are nevertheless proving to be speed bumps in the road to The Gallery Channel and Pink Ink.'s success. Despite this, Proctor remains positive: ´With each week we see more galleries and arts organisations finding their way into the on-line world. More public galleries are now putting major funds towards their on-line presence as it's the most logical answer to the public funding body's primary requirement: access! Of course, it's considerably more expensive to give everyone Internet access than free admission to the Tate; we are unfortunately still talking about a public that is largely middle class and formally educated.´

And what about on-line galleries and digital artworks on-line? ´The Gallery Channel focusses on "real-world" exhibitions because again, they are most in need of this sort of access. We do list on-line exhibitions, however, as long as they have a changing or temporary nature. Just as we don't list permanent exhibitions in the major museums, we don't list sites that are essentially an artist's "catalogue raisonné". The reason for this is very simple: a website that doesn't change frequently is a dead-site, and we don't want The Gallery Channel becoming cluttered with links to a lot of sites that haven't been updated since 1997.´

Proctor has ambitious plans for The Gallery Channel and is seeking major sponsorship to facilitate the growth she has planned. On a basic level, she is adamant that the site keep growing. ´We want our coverage to be greatly increased, both visually and critically - I'd like to see more virtual exhibitions, more reviews, more comments from visitors to the site´.

To this end Proctor is eager to form partnerships with regional arts and events publications, giving them a high-profile on-line presence hosted by Pink ink. in exchange for links from The Gallery Channel to their exhibitions reviews. The site already features articles from Yorkshire's Artscene Magazine. ´Local arts journalists offer an "insider"s view" of current exhibitions and are able to explore their impact on people's everyday lives in a way that is usually impossible for the international arts correspondent,´ explains Proctor. She adds that her aim is also to present exhibition reviews in multiple languages to make The Gallery Channel a truly international resource.

To fully exploit the potential of The Gallery Channel as a website Proctor is also planning a list-serve and chat room for people to exchange information and opinions on shows, as well as to network. This by its nature, will primarily appeal to and serve artists and art world people. For more casual art-goers The Gallery Channel already offers a free weekly UK art news service distributed by e-mail and available on the 'Stop Press' page of the site.

To subscribe to The Gallery Channel's news service, send your e-mail address to with 'SUBSCRIBE' in the subject line of your message, or visit The Gallery Channel on-line at

Get the latest UK art world news by e-mail FREE from The Gallery Channel

E-mail: with subject SUBSCRIBE and your e-mail address

The Gallery Channel - the original white tube gallery

7a Langley Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9JA UK tel/fax: 44-(0)171-240-4049; mobile: 0956-659958

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands