13 Mar 2007

Organizing an Art Exhibition

How to Organize an Art Exhibition -Tips on organizing a successful art exhibition

Recently, there has been a spurt in the number of art exhibitions in Bangalore. At some of these shows it was disheartening to see that there were hardly any visitors, almost no media coverage and consequently no sales. For all upcoming artists who are not sponsored by art galleries, organizing an exhibition of their artworks is a challenge in itself. Unfortunately, talent by itself is not sufficient, marketing and packaging have become very important ingredients in defining one’s success in almost every field.

Marketing is not a part of fine arts curriculum in India and although most artists acquire this ability over time, it helps to start right. A combination of creativity, good communication skills, marketing ability and media savvy-ness makes for a successful recipe. And, as most artists will agree, planning for an art show – preview, mailing lists, media coverage, details of the event all require extensive planning to ensure the success of an art show. Here, I have listed out a few points, which may help the new and upcoming artists.

Have ties
It helps to have some kind of a tie-up with an established and reputed art gallery. However, it is not always an easy task and if you are organizing an art exhibition completely on your own, it is important to start planning well before the event. Most art galleries are booked six months to a few years in advance, therefore depending on the timeframe, one can utilize the time to work out the nitty-gritty of the show.

Preview
It helps to organize a preview or an inauguration of the exhibition. These days, many hotels like to be associated with art related events and they could also be approached to provide the venue. Some hotels will do so in exchange of a painting. One can also look for a sponsor who can take care of the cocktails/appetizers for the evening. Do a cost estimate to have an idea about the expenses involved.

Invite and Catalogue
Design a nice invitation card with one or more of your paintings and ensure all relevant details are covered in it. If possible plan to have a catalogue, however this is more often done with sponsored shows.

Mailing list
Many art galleries in return for the rent of their premises will lend their mailing list. Sometimes mailing lists are also available on payment. It helps to have a local contact who can guide you in the right direction.
Plan in such a way that the invite reaches everyone about a week before the event.
If you plan on having a chief guest/guest of honor you will have to work simultaneously on confirming their availability.

‘Press kit’
Remember media plays an important role in providing press coverage and thereby determining the numbers that will visit the show. Put together a ‘press kit’ on a CD – photographs of artworks, artist profile & photograph, write-up on the exhibition such as what is the theme of the show, why was it chosen, what inspires you, how is it different from your earlier works, copy of a catalogue, if any, and an e-invite.
The press kit must be distributed to all local newspapers, magazines and television channel networks. This should be done at least 1 to 3 weeks in advance. If you would like to be covered in various section/supplements of a newspaper, remember, sending a single copy of the press kit is not enough. Take the trouble to find out who heads each section/supplement and mark different sets of the press kit to each of them.
Often freelance writers/art critics cover art related events, if you know their contact details, send them the press kit as well and follow up with a phone call. Alternately, leave a copy of the kit with the respective newspaper office and request them to forward it to the freelancer.

Follow up with a phone call to all the important people who you have invited for the event. Confirm again with your special guests. Please do not hound your guests and reporters with repeated phone calls this can put them off. Some galleries send out smses a day or two before the event to remind guests, one can follow this procedure as well.

If all this is too complicated and you have the cash to spare, hire a PR firm to take care of the publicity. Arty parties are very popular with the press for the Page 3 events section; so don’t forget to invite the press for the preview. Inviting the who’s who of the city will also make sure that the media takes an added interest in the event.

Send in your comments and suggestions (e-mail) on what more can be done to organize a good and successful art show.
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