In all of the community events I’ve worked on, I’ve had the most success promoting the event by contacting local schools, art teachers, and art programs in the area.
It’s a good idea to come up with a flyer that can be faxed or emailed with all the details—some important phrases that tend to encourage participation are “free event” and “all participants will sign the work.”
2. Team up with summer festivals
Summer festivals love having the additional draw of a large-scale collaborative art project and are usually open to scheduling you in, if you speak with them early enough. If you go this route, however, you’ll need to contact teachers and art programs before school lets out for the summer.
3. Approach malls and businesses
If your event will be held at a mall, you’ll want the mall to promote it, and they’ll probably want to promote it too. Ask them about it, and combine your volunteers with their paid workers if necessary. I’ve also found that many local businesses are happy to tape flyers on their doors and send a “representative” to participate in the event.
4. Speak to your local chamber of commerce
If the event will be staged in a town park, center green, civic center, or any other local government property, then your local Chamber of Commerce can be notified to help with promotion.
5. Call and send press releases to local media
News outlets like radio stations, tv, and newspapers are always on the lookout for community stories. Whenever possible, write the story yourself and send it in—make it easy for them to simply copy and paste your words wherever necessary.
Don’t forget to include your phone number and email address so potential volunteers know how to get a hold of you.
6. Look for celebrity endorsements
Along with the normal press releases, any celebrity endorsement will help get people out for your event. You will be amazed by how many celebrity figures enjoy art (or are artists themselves) and are willing to help out at your event. My advice is never be afraid to ask. You are doing a service for your community, and even if someone can’t help, they usually know someone else who can.
7. Most importantly, use word of mouth advertising
The more you get volunteers and participating artists engaged, the greater the scope of your promotional reach. Remember to enlist other fine art groups if possible, like dancers, musicians, and drama clubs. There are so many options available that it’s easy to see why assigning volunteers to promote the event is crucial, and why you simply can not do this alone.
The great thing about promoting a free, fun, community event is that it usually doesn’t take long for word to get out—and in my experience, as long as people know about the event, they won’t want to miss it.
Coming up next week: invaluable tips on working with participants to make sure that everyone enjoys your event to the fullest extent possible. See you then!