Elysian McNiff

Elysian McNiff

It is a challenge to produce effective marketing strategies for our public art projects and programs.

Public art administrators and artists are faced with limited resources; we all wish we had more time, money, and capacity.

How do we go beyond our websites and Facebook pages and get the word out about our public art projects?

This two-part post (check out part two tomorrow) is a compilation of methods from New England-based public art administrators. One fail proof marketing formula does not exist; public art projects and budgets, locations, and audiences can be vastly different.

Consider these suggestions a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story and use what works for you.

1. Post on your website. The Boston Arts Commission features projects with interviews and community photographs on its website. Connecticut Office of the Arts Art in Public Spaces Program Manager Tamara Dimitri wants to “build an army of supporters” and help protect her program, so she plans to provide information about the importance of collecting art on the Office of the Arts’ website.

2. Spread the word in press releases and newsletters. Vermont Arts Council Program Director Michele Bailey uses press releases to get community input on a project and announce unveilings; however, she laments that press releases only touch a small audience. This brings up an important question: how do we communicate to those outside of our circle and engage the general public? Check out some of the innovative methods in the next post.

3. Social Media is your friend. Facebook & Twitter are two platforms for building community; use them to announce Calls for Artists, cross-post projects, and provide information about the process. As teasers leading up to an unveiling, the Vermont Arts Council uploads project images on Facebook. Tweet the project images during and after the unveiling. Don’t forget the power of an image—consider Tumblr and Flickr to showcase your project(s). These photo hosting platforms serve as archives and allow viewers to participate in an online sharing community. Middlebury College’s Museum of Art promotes its collection by registering each work as a place on Foursquare which then creates a list for viewers. What’s next? The Museum now has its collections and exhibitions on Pinterest, and will be utilizing it for public art.

4. Get talking and make it personal. It may seem obvious, but don’t forget word of mouth. Host finalist presentations as public gatherings. The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway held public meetings to bring together artists and community members to discuss their public art strategic plan. Ask selection panelists and community partners, chambers of commerce, tourism bureaus, to spread the word.

5. Blog. Rhode Island State Council for the Arts and the Maine Arts Commission use their blogs to share state commissioned public art projects and artist opportunities. New England Foundation for the Arts uses its blog to post calls for artists and share information from its Public Art Discussion Series. Americans for the Arts also accepts public art posts here on ARTSblog.

6. Use channels other than your own. Share your project with the Public Art Network and the Public Art Archive. Reach out to Public Art Dialogue. Send your project press release to Sculpture or Public Art Review. Run a print ad to feature your project. New England public art administrators promote their projects in regional or travel publications like Art New England and Yankee Magazine. We also use Big Red & Shiny, an online journal about contemporary art and culture.

7. Newspapers are still in business. Don’t forget to contact your local newspapers and their bloggers. Again, get the word out to those that may otherwise learn about your project.

Come back to ARTSblog for innovative solutions in part two tomorrow!

3 Responses to “12 Ways to Market Your Public Art (Part One)”

  1. Ron Mallis says:

    My only addition to what Elyse suggests under No. 4 is to consider the entire cycle of community engagement, not only post-facto “word of mouth.” Whether planning for a revitalized downtown or for a single component within that downtown, it’s imperative to build political will — not only from the top down, but from the bottom up.

  2. I agree with Ron. A point that I could have made clearer in the blog is that communications and marketing is not just for the end-product. The public art process is a long road with multiple players; it is crucial to engage the public and to build commitment from the beginning to the end.

  3. Ron Mallis says:

    Without beating this into the ground, maybe there’s a way that NEFA, for example, could give its imprimatur to “protocols” that explicitly rank the broad spectrum of civic engagement among the top absolutely essential elements of any public art initiative — right up there with funding!

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