Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Plein Air Convention 2014 - Day 1 - Putting together a Plein Air Event

Carmel Winds
Oil on Linen on Board

This is a continuation on my post for Day 1 of the 2014 Plein Air Convention and some of the Umbrella meetings before the Convention even started!

I wrote about the Gallery session in my last post and what followed that session was one of highlights of the Convention for me; the Panels on Putting together a Plein Air Event and working with you Community.  I took a lot of notes as I'm really interested in what makes an event work well and also how any art organization can work better, so read what you like and skip the rest:-)
Kathy Duley; Coordinator for the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, Rosemary Swimm; President of LPAPA and in charge of the hallmark of Plein Air Events - the Laguna Plein Air Invitational, and Vince Fazio from the Sedona Art Festival 
The 3 of them spoke about several facets of putting together a successful Plein Air Event.

Here are some of their main points on what you might want to consider:

  1.  Lead time - All three agreed that you need at least a year to prepare, especially for a new event.  (LPAPA starts preparing for their next event right after the end of the current one)
    1. Magazines need 3-4 months.
    2. Artists plan their schedule of events a year in advance.
    3. Enough time to cultivate sponsors and raise the money needed ahead of time.
  2. Why do we want to do the event? -  Set objectives  
    1. Rosemary pointed out that the Laguna Invitational uses their yearly event as their main fundraiser - they invite 35 artists and the funds raised go to programs for their 300 members)
    2. Vince (Education is the biggest reason - How do we let more people know about Plein Air?)
    3. Kathy - the goal is funding a permanent art venue on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
  3. What process will you choose to pick the artists?  Do you want an invitational or a juried plein air event? 
    1. Factors that play a role in that decision could be (restrictions to a number of artists because of wall space or location - Kathy)
    2. Juried - you have a big pool and will need to set a cap.
    3. Invitational - you have more control.
  4.  Pick a committee:
    1. It needs to be a diverse group with different strengths!! Include community leaders and artists, but don't make it too big.
    2. You need a Marketing Specialist/PR, Volunteer coordinator, team leaders for different events, Finances, Sponsorship just to start.
    3. Rosemary - As a team leader you need to:  Have a good sense of humor, stay calm, roll with the punches, be professional and have fun -  Being the one in charge you can’t be the one to see that everything happens  - good directions.
    4. You need Committee member that have particular key strengths, are open to suggestions, hard workers, with follow-thru.
  5. How much money will you need?
    (Rosemary:  We set a budget and a deadline - and if we can't meet that deadline we can't do it.  Last year they raised $200,000 to put the event on.)
    1. Write Grants to City and State
    2. Sponsors - Have a great presentation Package.  A Sponsor packet could include; Getting a table, name/photos on banners/recognized on all materials, pick an award, get a painting
    3. Use the sponsorships to cover the main costs.
    4. Biggest cost is Advertising!!! Then there's food, the event (decorations, lighting, insurance, security)
  6. Who is your audience?  And how will you appeal to them? 
    1. Helps to have a captive audience to start (Kathy).
    2. Started with the Museums's list (RoseMary)
    3.  Build a Data-base - stay very organized.
    4. Advertise in High-End Magazines (RoseMary - This year they're thinking of hiring a PR-Firm)
    5. Sedona is in it's 9th year - just tried a different event to attract a new audience (Native American Sacred Sites to paint - brought a new audience)
    6. Strong Social Media presence - Tweet
    7. Special Events partnering with others (Art & Wine)
    8. Continue to mix it up Kathy(add new events and new artists)
    9. Keep the excitement up by having a limited buyers event – It helps when it’s sold out!
  7. Thoughts on Publicity –
    1. Best publicity is from the Restaurants and Facilities that talk up the event (Kathy)
    2. Rosemary (Our Children’s event creates Amazing Publicity – it’s all over the paper/TV-crew came out – you have Artists working with children and the money goes back to the schools, big plus)
    3. A Cultural/Human Interest story brings the Media
    4. Social Media (LPAPA – One person dedicated to it).
  8. How many volunteers will you need?  Are their community members that would be willing to get involved? Can you partner with other volunteer organizations?  Do you have the support of the community?
    1. Volunteers love when they can be at the event and work with the artists.
  9. How will you attract artists?   (Rosemary: a Big prize amount is a draw - $10,000 is their 1st prize amount) Great painting locations, having host families/accomodation helps, treat the artists well - feed them - and sales!
  10. What venue will you use?  Do you have one, or do you partner/rent/get a sponsor?
    1. After partnering with the Laguna Art Museum for 15 years - last year was the first time LPAPA didn't have the event at the Museum...turned out to be the most successful - Event was held at the Aliso Golf course (rented tent). 
    2. Kathy - no permanent venue.  They work with the National Parks system - follow their rules and guidelines.

The following Panel focused more on Partnering with your community to Raise Awareness and Funding.
 Joe Taylor - so helpful, kind and inspiring

Joe Taylor  - Serves as an Executive Director of Franklin’s Promise Coalition, a hosting partner to the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition‘s Plein Air Invitational in Apalachicola, Florida. 
In 2013 he was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Administrator Award for this work as a manger of volunteers in the nonprofit sector.
Robin Anderson Involved with a New Plein Air Event in Washington called Paint the Peninsula 

Following are some great gems on working with Volunteers and your Community:
  1.  Partner with other organisations that already have a volunteer base in place. National Charity Leage, Boys and Girls Club, Humane Societies, Medical Centers, - Arts can support other groups in your community.
  2. The best way to get a volunteer is to ask (personally)
  3. Joe: Make sure you don’t miss the gifts that are out there.  When you look at volunteers, ask yourself:  What do they have to share? Not, what do I need? Connect with people about what they want to share and then empower them!  - Don’t disconnect with people just because you don’t know someone’s abilities strengths – be curious.
  4.  Have it be skills based - The easiest way to loose a volunteer is asking them to do something they don’t want to do. (Joe)
  5.  Look outside your box.  For the Forgotten Coast event they got a volunteer student from University of Florida to do Social Media in exchange for a stipend.
  6.  There are state agencies that work on developing volunteerism.   Circlesusa.org    (I found this one for California http://www.californiavolunteers.org/index.php/Programs/)

Here are other ideas and suggestions on working with the Community and raising awareness/funds, and an audience for your event:
  1.  Cultural Arts are driving the community economy. Bring in tourists.  (Ann – The tourism bureau provided a PR-Person) Involve the tourists by having supply kits at the hotel…to participate and enter in a competition.
  2.  Most valuable in getting attention and support:  Education and Kid’s Events. 
  3.  Getting the word out with Kid’s Events – reach out to Mommy groups and Facebook to spread the word.  Go to schools and meet with teachers to see what their needs are (contract with teachers to come in)
  4.  To get funding:  Private funders (Ann – we got a lot of retired people and the appeal was Education)
  5. Some examples of what Sponsors are drawn in by: 
  • a.    Visibility
  • b.    Benefitting the Community
  • c.    They share the vision
  • d.    Art Patrons – Art for Art’s sake 
6    Develop relationships with suppliers and vendors
a.    Artists love getting something in their goodie bags.
7.    Local Support - Ann (We had a winery blend a Plein Air Wine – Creates funds/support all year round.)
8.    Easy to get sponsorships for Classes (Adult Basic Classes – small cost /very subsidized.
9.    When applying for grants it is important to keep good numbers of Beds and Heads.  Data is power – collect it and put together a report! 
a.    Have a survey form for participants in the event.
b.    # of students, visitors (lodging taxes and expenditures)
10. There are 2 types of collector base:  Inside versus outside collector base.  Strategic planning is important to not exhaust your market when it comes to collectors.  Ask collectors how it can be a better experience?
11. Refresh your program – keep your eyes open for trends and use what is special about your location.

Lastly, Doglas Morgan,  Michelle Byrne, Paul Kratter and Debra Joy Grosser spoke about plein Air Events from the artist's perspective.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you! Comments are much appreciated and it means a lot to me that you took the time.