Be Smart About Art

Want to get people through the doors of your exhibition? Events, events, events

written by: Susan Mumford Nov. 30, 2014 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan Mumford + Chris King's Blog 3869 views

Want to get people through the doors of your exhibition? Events, events, events

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here)

Here's the thing about getting people through the doors: As much as they might be interested in seeing the art on display, taking action is another matter. An intriguing event is an excellent way to achieve this.

In today’s art world, many people complain about how exhibition openings have become booze-ups at which no one buys. Seemingly gone are the days of clients snapping up pieces in the hubbub. (It does happens, but it’s rarer than it used to be).

What works now? As a starter, achieving pre-sales as a result of emailing collectors as well as the mailing list an e-catalogue is effective. Some sales will take place just prior to opening to the public, in addition to the ,during the show and afterwards. With an increase in dithering on the part of collectors, after-sales are more important than ever before.

What can you do to get people through the door, to result in many of the sales during and after the show? Hold enticing events in addition to the opening.

This year over Thanksgiving weekend, I found myself standing alongside a bronze turkey during London-based artist Emma Broughton’s solo exhibition in Fitzrovia. Genius idea too, staging a show that features a mega-turkey sculpture at the time of the USA’s biggest annual holiday, of which the large bird factors in as the primary food group. Mind, Emma’s bronze might last longer than the turkey on dinner tables…

The marketing of the artist’s Saturday event jumps out straightaway: ‘Bagels and Bloody Marys’. What’s not to like? This day in age, many people, myself included, have too many weekday engagements to attend every opening. So when I received the invitation, the choice was a no brainer. See how it read:

Tuesday 25th November 6.30-9PM

Saturday 29th November 11.30AM – 2.30PM

It wasn’t even worth checking the calendar. The decision was made; a relaxed and alluring Saturday affair was the ticket. Question is, did it work for the exhibition? Oh goodness, yes. My arrival was rather late when it was ‘quiet’ and yet it was still tricky to get in a word with the artist!

When you are planning shows, consider the entirety of the event calendar. Rather than hold an opening reception and onlythen think about what to do next, plan things from day one. Try and entice people to occasions that suit their interests and their schedule. Plus, by providing options, if something gets in the way of the first event, your audience knows that they have another opportunity to attend where they will get to see you, too.

What no-brainer events come to mind that suit the show, the setting and your brand? 
 Have your say! Share your comments below - and we will provide a link to your site / blog (if you so wish). 
Let other readers know about your personal experience of this, and what wisdom you have to share.    
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Special thanks to Emma Broughton for the inclusion of 'Turkey V - in his pomp' for this week's photograph. 

Photographs © Chris King.

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Posted by : Jen 01/12/2014 12:34

Thank you for the tips and story today. and yes it is a brain storming and sharing ideas. What a wonderful way to help market your art. So maybe you could come up with a session for us all to brain storm and share ideas of how to get the visitors through the day. Thank you again

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Interesting Susan thank you!
I frequently schedule openings over the weekend and find the whole atmosphere changes as many of customers bring their partners/ husbands and children. Arranging weekend exhibitions with activities for children is also a good idea.
Music can be another nice feature- I invited an Irish harpist to play one Sunday during an opening..
Vb Barbara