In my experience, I’ve found that there are four equally important steps to hosting a community art event: planning, promotion, participation, and production.
Today’s article explains what it takes to prepare a full-blown community art event from the ground up. (If you’re not sure why you’d want to, read this first.)
Making your community art event a success
As you brainstorm ideas for your event, remember that the general community has to be able to accomplish it with limited instruction, limited time, and limited artistic ability. At the same time the final product has to be visually satisfying or the event itself might disappoint.
And whether artisans are filling in a pre-drawn image like a coloring book, or doing more expressive things (a la Jackson Pollack) you will want and need the help of other local artists serving as coaches and encouragers.
To that end, one of the first things you should do is assemble a team of coaches and encouragers through existing local arts organizations, schools, and art galleries.
If you decide that you’ll need a large number of supplies, sponsors can be contacted for donation of materials or money in exchange for advertising consideration.
A local ice cream store can donate aprons, for example, and have their name associated with the event. A local art supply store could donate cash or paints and brushes. Contact local media (TV channels, radio stations, etc) to explain the project and ask for “a high-profile volunteer” to kick off the event. Don’t just send a news release, either—you’ll get better results if you actually speak with someone in person.
Since community art events are good for public relations, you’ll find that radio, TV and even political personnel (like the mayor of your town) are always happy to participate.
Once you have enough people to help you organize and run the event, you’ll need to set up a few planning and organizational meetings to figure out all the details, like when and where the event will occur.
It’s often beneficial if you can select the date and location of the event to coincide with a local festival or holiday, to take advantage of already existing traffic. Have an idea of when and where going into the meeting, but be prepared to accept other ideas as well.
To recap, here’s a short outline of the steps you should take while planning your event:
1. Select the type of project that people will be participating in (painting, drawing, sculptural, etc, plus when and how the event will take place)
2. Assemble your team of art coaches and and volunteers.
3. Contact local media and celebrities for high-profile participants and event coverage.
4. Hold one or more meetings to share your vision, introduce volunteers, and delegate responsibility for every task.
What to do at the initial meeting
As you go into your first meeting, remember that people love to support things which they have helped to create.
If you’re the type of person who thinks that you need to personally handle all the details of the event yourself, you’ll most likely fail (or get burnt out). Instead, delegate everything you can.
Delegate who is responsible for getting sponsors, and who should talk to schools. Arrange which of your team should invite local celebrities and who should recruit participants and spread the word.
In other words, don’t be afraid to put people to work—they’ve agreed to help, after all, and YOUR job is to share your vision and get people involved, not get bogged down doing things that other people can accomplish.
Explain what you see this event producing in the citizens of your community. . . Can children participate? What will the day be like? How do you see it all turning out? Cover every major aspect without being to restrictive.
Additional points to consider
1. I’ve found that allowing all participants to sign their work (and having a place to publicly display the finished project) helps encourage participation.
2. Local libraries, city halls, high schools and cultural arts centers are almost always willing to display a community work that involves group participation. Contact them early to make sure the space is available.
3. It’s a good idea to have musicians play while painters create. Engaging local musicians, even student musicians, gives them a platform for performing and an additional source of advertising and participation. (Or at the very least, plan for a cd player and lively music.)
Once the planning stage is completed, it’s time to think about how you’ll promote the event. Come back for more information on that, next week!
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