How to Organize a Non-Profit Art Show: 5 Tips

published on Jun 15, '16

How to Organize a Non-Profit Art Show: 5 Tips  

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Creating good working relationships with everyone involved is the key to ensuring a successful non-profit art show. This includes the artists, donors, benefactors, volunteers, public and media. Even before you think about funds and how much money is being raised, think about your team members and the individuals involved. Make sure everyone’s on the same page and united in their desire to make your non-profit art show a success. How? Read on for five tips for organizing your own non-profit art show, plus a bonus tip because we like you.

Tip 1. Your Theme Is Essential

The first thing you need to establish is your theme, or story. In order to have a good show, a great turnout and even better sales, your first priority must be your theme. This will determine how your press releases are written and what angles to take when accepting media interviews.

When organizing a non-profit event, the focus must be on the charity or organization benefiting from the proceeds. First, why is this cause special to you? What makes it different from all the other non-profits out there?

Second, why are you showcasing this particular collection of art, and what’s going to make people want to buy it? Make sure you know the story you’re going to be telling.

Tip 2. Build a Good Committee

Look at the people on your committee. They should not only bring creative focus, great ideas and solutions to your art show, but also be individuals with good connections. Those whose networks include art patrons, media professionals and journalists will be able to bring more attention and a wider audience.

Allot enough time in advance for the committee planning. Make sure everyone understands the financial goals, and how to present the event to each of their networks. Then establish the responsibilities of each of your committee members. Do they know their particular role in the art show? Do they know the story of the non-profit and how to answer any questions that the public may ask?

If necessary, assign one or two people on the committee to be your public representatives. These individuals should know all the necessary details and be responsible for the handling of any media queries.

Tip 3. Make Sure the Artists and Their Art Are a Good Fit for Your Non-Profit

Just as big corporations choose their brand ambassadors carefully – according to values and public interest – you should also take a close look at the artists representing your non-profit, and especially their art that will be on display at your event. Regardless of what medium is used, art always has a message. This message should align with the vision and goals of your non-profit.

Another note on your artists: They may be giving away their art in exchange for recognition at a non-profit event, and to broaden their clientele base. Still treat them as artists whom you’d be paying–with every bit of respect they deserve.

If you’re having other entertainment at the event, such as musical performers, you might have an exchange deal with them, offering a venue for both performance and promotion. If not, then organize monetary payment for everyone who’s contributing – unless you’ve previously agreed that they’ll be donating their services. This will show that you value the artists and support their creative causes as well.

Tip 4. Start a Blog to Promote the Upcoming Event

There are many online platforms for getting your event out to a wider audience, but an easy and simple way to keep the public and supporters updated is by blogging about the event. You could periodically write about the behind-the-scenes preparations, or even hire a content writer to craft interesting articles that relate to your event. For example, interviews with the artists involved, stories about the beneficiaries, or photos from the production process (artists in their studios, etc.). This will create more awareness for your cause.

Compile an email list of subscribers to your blog, as some of them may eventually become your patrons and support your work.

Tip 5. Get Media Coverage

Art shows have the advantage of reaching a wide audience. Get on radio talk shows or schedule TV interviews if you have an able spokesperson. Invite journalists to listen to your story and run the articles in the weeks leading up to your event.

You need to use caution when communicating with media outlets because, in the end, they decide on what’s published, not you. Prepare good press releases, artist statements and a clear vision about your work.

When inviting journalists, remember to include those from the lifestyle sections of magazines and newspapers, art magazine editors, and even bloggers who focus on local fine art and events. If you don’t have a website up and running, get one.

Optional: How to Raise More Funds During the Actual Event

Here are several ways to raise more funds for your non-profit during the actual event, besides selling original art pieces.

  • Auction off one or two special pieces at the end of the event. Announce the auction continually during the event to create hype for your grand finale.
  • Organize a raffle (also usually at the end of the evening) where guests can buy as many raffle tickets as they’d like. The prize could either be sponsored gifts, or the art itself.
  • Make packs of autographed art prints or cards to sell at a lower price point for anyone who likes the art, but can’t afford to buy the originals.