So you’ve put together a local art exhibition—that’s great! Now you need to recruit artists for your show, and promote it locally.
Before you start, you will need to establish who you are targeting. For example, you might want student artists, young adults and amateurs to submit their artwork. Different audiences respond to different promotional campaigns, so get a clear idea in mind, and then stick with your plan.
It’s also very important that you establish a budget for promotions right away. Things like printing costs and newspaper advertising can quickly eat up a minimal budget, so it’s key that you plan carefully and use your creativity to keep the costs down as much as possible while you promote.
Here are ten ideas for promoting your local art exhibition:
1. Create a promotional pack
Create a flyer/poster, an entry form, and an additional information packet with contact details for yourself and any other main event coordinators. You’ll use this promotional pack over and over again, online and offline, so it’s great to have it ready at a moment’s notice.
You’ll want to include your submission deadline, details of medium restrictions and size, how many entries are allowed, age restriction (if any), and the length of time the exhibition runs.
You will also need to include a detailed “small font” document with all the technical details about insurance, postage, commission from artworks, etc.
2. Create and submit a press release for your event
The most important part of marketing your exhibition is making a press release and sending a paragraph or two of details to your local community newspapers and websites. You’ll need to do it twice—the first press release should be sent in at least a month in advance, and the second (as a reminder) should be sent a week prior to your submission deadline.
3. Email local contacts
Send your electronic promotional pack to schools, colleges, art schools, community groups and organisations. Introduce yourself in the body of the email and attach your electronic flyer. Encourage them to print and display it on their own noticeboards, as well as forward it to any other contacts they know.
4. Appear at local events
If there are similar events at or around your exhibition location, place flyers there, strike up conversations, and hand out information about your event as well.
5. Use local media
Do a radio interview or find other sources of local community media, such as newsletters, public meetings, etc, where you can advertise your event.
6. Make use of online announcement boards
Find out if your exhibition studio or community centre has its own webpage where it advertises upcoming events. This may accomplish the majority of your advertising for you. Research other artist collective websites and submit your event under their “call for contributing” artists announcements.
7. Advertise at other community spaces
Find other regional or local spaces, like churches, schools, community centres, coffees shops, etc, where you can put up flyers or meet people in person to talk about your upcoming event.
8. Network through other artists
Contact artists whom you already know, or whom others know, to find further contacts and spread the word.
9. Widen your reach through other organisations
Approach schools, colleges or organisations to advertise your event on their website or newsletter. These already established networks will have a much wider scope than you can reach on your own. Use their community groups to extend the people you reach.
10. Send out personal invitations
Send out invitations to established artists to attend. They may tell their students or fellow artists, who may end up submitting works of their own. At the very least, that increases knowledge of your event, and it may even improve the chance that you will have a well-known artist at your opening.
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