Set Up a Show

Putting together a show takes planning and setup that goes on weeks and months ahead of the actual event. Here are some guidelines.

  1. Start with finding a date and venue. Many galleries and shows book a year or even two in advance, so start talking about it early. Sometimes, as with FAC, we can get a small slot in between their larger shows. In addition to galleries like Firehouse Art Center,  and Muse in Longmont, there are retail stores like Great Frame Up that host shows; as do the BrewMart (2D only) and some banks and hospital/medical centers (contact Longmont Council for the Arts about these). More outreach can be done to find venues in the community. Once the date and place are set, you have a time frame with which to work. Get details like how much commission is taken and whether there are restrictions as to size or subject matter.
  2. Share the info via email with club members, and call for interested members to be a planning committee.  Call on members as needed to help with the planning and management, meet as needed and communicate via email with updates to the members involved. Keep the general list for announcements as needed for their participation and dont overwhelm them with the details they don’t need. Work breaks down into catagories like: publicity creation, publicity distribution, set up, artist reception including food setup and cleanup,  and tear down.
  3. Begin gathering participating artists and get images from them for publicity.You may need to do a bit of coaxing and recruitment.  Set a deadline for signing up to encourage people to make up their minds. Use flexibility when needed, but make ALL deadlines sound very firm. Announce the opportunity in art classes, put the info on the frccart.com website, and send it to all members via the mailing list  (Lists Page) . Although I have happily added artists after the deadline, they don’t get their work on the flier unless they are on board and submit those images by the deadline stated. However, images can still be used online to promote the show. Some people will sign up and never participate, that’s pretty routine too so don’t be discouraged if 17 sign up and 13 actually show.
  4. For publicity you will need .jpg, .gif, .png of .tiff files at at least 150ppi resolution. These can be used in Photoshop and InDesign to create a poster/postcard to be printed and used in web promotions. The print version needs to be saved as a .pdf at 300ppi, and the web version should be optimized and saved at 72ppi to create a much smaller file. This work can be given to the Design Agency here at FRCC if not done in-house by the art club members, but be advised that they have a busy schedule at the Design Agency and you need to give them the materials at least two months in advance. We often do two versions; one poster at 8.5″x11″, and one postcard at 8.5″x5.5″, which fits two on a page for printing.
  5. Write copy to go on on the poster/postcard and to go in a press release. There is a sample press release and also the places to send them on the Lists page . These need to be sent in email to some, and via web submission for others. Each web submission has its own format, but many have a 500 character description for the event, so create a paragraph in text edit using the most important bits describing the event (not time, date, etc–those have their own field) from the press release, and cut and paste it where needed. This is much easier than pasting in the big release and editing it down each time. Press releases generally go out at least 6 weeks before the event. Tell Student Life so they can put it in the Stall Notes. John Feeley is in charge of the Front Range Blogs and will only accept and publish press release info from the Head of the Art Department (Camille Rendal) or our advisor John Cross, and they must specifically ask him to put it on the faculty AND student blogs, “Writers on the Front Range” and “Frontline”. (note: It would be good to have someone improve a working relationship with Mr. Feeley and the Art Club, as we have yet to have one of our events publicised on the student blog, which appears on the FrontRange.edu website and eWolf, and it would be a good resource for our FRCC Art Club events.)
  6. Get forms from Student Life for any expenses ahead of time, and keep receipts. Clubs have a budget of $150 per semester from Student Life, and we have previously spent an average of $50-$75 for crackers, cheese, spreads, chai and apple cider for Artist Reception events by shopping at Costco and between $50-$75 for live music. We also bring food pot-luck style and have previously gotten donations of beer or wine from local breweries when the venue is off campus. Another possibility is seeking food donations/reduced price  from a local restaurant, caterer, cooking school  in return for publicity. Again, this is something to work out way ahead of time, so you can include the info on all publicity. Fill out all forms ASAP and turn them in to Mandy Clancy or whoever is currently Director of Student Life. Also request items like table coverings or coffee urns for the date needed. FAC provided plates and cups, but we can also get them through Student Life if needed.
  7. Send an email to participants requesting their inventory ahead of the setup. If making placards, you will want Artist Name, Title, Media, Size (if needed) and Price. These can be set up in an InDesign File, and there is a sample that you can download and start with on the Lists page. The Jewelry and 2D rooms have InDesign installed. Don’t bother to print these until a few days before the show as there are always changes—but get the file set up and ready to change as needed. Make two copies of the inventory file, one for leaving at the venue and one to have artists sign when they hang and leave their items.
  8. Continue to send monthly/bimonthly updates to participating artists and the general membership to keep them advised of details of the upcoming show and invite participation as artists and promoters of the event. Set a FIRM time for set up and tear down of the show. Our shows at FAC took about three hours to hang, and encourage everyone to be there as close to the beginning as possible, as we do the space allocation/arrangement based on what looks good together to fill the space, and you risk being stuck in someplace with less deliberation if you are not there at the start. FAC gave us a key ahead of time, and we did setup the night before, after they closed for the day. Stress to participants that it is NOT a good idea to wait till 7:50 if its a 5-8pm set up or tear down. Taking it down takes VERY little time for individual artists in comparison to set up, but still took three hours as some people came very late or had to come the next day–if they know they will be out of town or busy, they MUST make arrangements for their work; stress that the FRCC Art Club is not responsible work left after pick up time.  If people cannot be there to help display/hang their artwork themselves, they will need to make arrangements with you to drop off work and have it hung without them. Discourage this–participation is important. Remind participants of the time and date of set up when decided, one week previous, and the day before. It’s also a good idea to remind the instructors and to have them remind participants, or tell them if you see them at school; some people dont read their email as often as others.
  9. Two weeks before the event, send out an email invite to the membership, using your own address as a “To” address and pasting the email list into the “BCC” list so that they do not show. At the beginning of the invite, ask them to please forward to their own personal mailing lists and to post the information to their own websites or Facebook page. Don’t spam, but do invite everyone that might be able to come.
  10. Encourage members to put up fliers at willing local businesses, and give fliers to Student Life to put up on the bulletin boards.
  11. Finalize inventory lists, print out placards on card stock and cut to size. Set a hanging convention (we’ve used bottom right previously, to the side at the bottom but not underneath) so that all placards are visually synchronous. Give these to the artists when they arrive to hang their work. Some venues will have everything, but if they don’t, you’ll need some Blu-tak or something similar for hanging the placards, nails, hammers, frame hanging brackets, and possibly a cordless drill.
  12. One or two days before the event, put half sized fliers in all 300 faculty/staff mailboxes  and send out a reminder via email to all members of the event dates and the reception (if any).
  13. Set up the show. We have previously chosen to arrange things two different ways–one was a space for each artist’s work all together, and the other was to put all items mixed together in visually appealing groups. We arranged everything in color/theme groupings against the walls before hanging it all. This takes a little more work and co-operation but really looked better in the long run. Pay attention to hanging heights, try to keep a top or bottom line even or go for diagonals but pay attention to even horizontal/vertical spacing between. Make it look good!
  14. Set up the food/beverages for the reception 1/2 hour ahead of time, and cleanup afterwards.
  15. If the venue is taking sales, they will handle all the details as to taxes, credit cards, etc. They then take a commission and send out checks within a few weeks; however check with them as to the details when establishing show particulars in the beginning.

Leave a Reply