As a fundraiser, you understand the importance of leveraging every budget dollar to produce tangible benefits. Art exhibits are a proven, cost-effective method of doing just that. They attract new and repeat visitors; generate press coverage; produce word-of-mouth buzz; and present an excellent occasion to reach out to donors, patrons and the community at large.
Here are 10 steps to a successful exhibit program.
1. Form a team
“It’s good to gather a group of people who will be supportive of the project,” says Stefanie Ryan of the Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s a lot of work for one person, and you really need a committee to help select the art, hang the shows and maybe come across an interesting artist in their travels. It’s a very unique committee to be part of.”
It’s very helpful to have at least one member with some background in visual art, adds Howard Brough of the Salt Lake City Public Library.
2. State your mission
To succeed in the long run, exhibit programs must have a clear purpose and goal. A formal mission statement can articulate these and serve as reference point to keep things on track when decisions have to be made or new ideas are presented.
3. Start small
Choose one modest-sized space to work with, and do a trial exhibit, perhaps with an artist or artists you’re acquainted with, before soliciting submissions. Once up and running, set a manageable exhibit schedule.
4. Solicit like a pro
“The more professional you can make the interaction with the artists, the more professional material you will get,” Brough advises. This means being organized, having paperwork ready and communicating well.
5. Schedule around your team
Reviewing incoming submissions is a very enjoyable process, but it takes time and a clear mind. Some organizations review submissions at a monthly lunch meeting; others have one large review session for each exhibit. Ask your colleagues and make it easy on them.