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Welcome to the Open Studio Weekend Participant Page!

Open Studio for Artist Participants

Open Studio Weekend takes place Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Authenticity and quality are at the heart of the event.

Vermont Crafts Council members who are Vermont visual artists and craftspeople, galleries, educational sites, may participate.

Participants agree to open their studios to the public for the weekend, create an educational element to their event, and distribute promotional materials of their own and the Vermont Studio Tour Guide.

The Vermont Crafts Council produces the Vermont Studio Guide, which contains maps, directions and contact information about participants, and posts the same material on its website. We produce wayfinder signs and posters that are given to participants at three professional development seminars that serve as materials distribution days.

PROMOTION FOR YOUR OPEN STUDIO EVENT

The Vermont Crafts Council and individual participants share the task of promoting and publicizing Open Studio. We expect everyone to do some specific, promotion that is appropriate to their own event. It doesn't have to be expensive.

Six no or low cost promotion tasks to do right away:

1. Adding Events to the Vermontvacation.com Website

The process to add events to the www.VermontVacation.com events calendar is a new self-service state-wide calendar that’s easy to load and has a number of new helpful functions.

This web page explains how to do this.

2. Contact the Travel Information Center nearest you to see about exhibiting your work during Open Studio Weekend.

Each of 16 sites has free exhibition space that you may reserve. For a complete list go to this link which has contact info for each center. If you can't sign up for a space for this year, reserve a space for later or reserve for next year.

http://www.bgs.state.vt.us/infocenter/index.htm

3. Send an event listing to your local paper.

You can do this by e-mail, from the newspapers website (check the Contact Us link if nothing else jumps out). If you can't file it online, see who handles the calendar listings and send your e-mail or mail directly to that person. Be brief. Lead with the title and date of your event, then include where, who and what. It is a good idea to look at typical calendar listings before you write yours to see how descriptive you are allowed to be.

4. Send a Press Release for yourself or your group. Read how to make a press release at this link:

How to Write a Press Release

5. If you haven't done so, sign up for your own page on Facebook.com, and then create a page for your business. Create a Facebook Event and invite your friends to your studio. See below for directions.
vtvacations_screen_shot

6. Postcards.

Nothing is more effective than a picture of your work. Postcard printing houses commonly handle your entire order online. There are many who offer this service, but the one we have used is Modern Postcard: http://www.modernpostcard.com.

This site offers many great ideas about how to promote your event with postcards.

Other postcard sources: http://www.overnightprints.com and http://www.vistaprint.com. Don't neglect your local printers who might be a little more expensive but also might be easier to work with.

A lower cost idea is to print postcards from your computer or create a master sketch or drawing and have your local copy store reproduce it for you. Maximum size is 4.25 inches X 6 inches.

Leave the back blank except for your business and contact information. Print an Open Studio message on labels to personalize some of the postcards for Open Studio. Save the rest to hand out at shows, or to mail to your best customers ahead of the events you'll do over the course of the year.

Promotion For Your Local Open Studio Group


1. Make a Local Map

There are plenty of ways to create a local map including making a copy of the section of the Vermont Studio Tour map and enlarging it. What may work better is a hand drawn map with local landmarks and mileages. Each site keeps the map in their studio and hands it out to visitors.

2. Add local restaurants

You may want to form a partnership with local restaurants by putting them on the map or running a cross promotion where they send people to your studio or make available your local map and you provide a special of some sort to those who visit your studio.

3. Share pictures or examples of artwork

You can ask visitors where they plan to go next and encourage them to go on to the next studio. Show them a picture or an example of the work they'll find at the next stop.

4. Promote at Farmer's Markets

If you normally sell at a Farmer's Market, it is a good place to distribute our maps or your local maps.

5. Alter the Poster to respresent the group

Attach as a border, a strip of pictures with numbers, of the work of members of the group. This lets people in the local area (60% of those touring for Open Studio) an idea of what they will see.

6. Make a distribution plan

Have at least one meeting of the whole group to make a list of places to distribute the map and poster. Everyone will take a list of places to check and re-supply.

7. Distribute a group press release

Instead of doing an individual press release, create a group press release using the guidelines at the link above. This might increase the chance that you'll be considered news.

USE MAPS, POSTERS, AND SIGNS TO PROMOTE YOUR OPEN STUDIO

Maps - We expect you to partner with us to distribute maps in your area.

If you are working by yourself with no regional group, here is a suggested plan for distributing the maps.

Contact the local Chamber of Commerce and leave 20 there. (Someone else may have done this, so call and save yourself a trip.)

Leave 5 each in five inns or B&B's in your area. This is a chance to introduce yourself and leave a business card or, better yet, some postcards of your work.

Keep 10 in your studio to distribute during the weekend. Visitors stumble upon Open Studio by following the yellow signs and need to get a map from you. Make sure to hold on to one for your own reference needs.

Find a local gallery, museum, or arts related site (like a restaurant that has exhibits on the walls) and leave 5 maps there.

For the remaining ten, mail five to your best customers, give five to your best friends.

The Map weighs 2.1 ounces and requires an .78 stamp.

Customize the Map

Paperclip your business card onto the page with your directions. Or make an invitation that will fit inside the map dimensions (4 X 9) describing what visitors will see during the weekend at your studio - a demonstration, the kiln opening, a tour, the beauty of your gardens... But don't make it too thick as the map itself just barely meets the size regulations included in the new postal regulations.

Local Map Distribution

Look at the suggestions above and the total maps you have and make a distribution plan for your area. Delegate sites and encourage group members to check back to see if more maps are needed. You can always get more from us.

Places to put maps

Supportive galleries, art supply stores, restaurants, libraries, chambers of commerce, information centers (We send 8,000 to the Vermont Tourist Information Centers on the interstates.) book stores, inns, Bed and Breakfasts.

Make some posters into map distribution tools.

Staple a large zip-lock bag to the bottom of the poster and put a few maps in it. Then place the poster on a bulletin board in a library or grocery store and check back to replenish the supply.

Posters

Each participant is given 10 posters. We suggest concentrating them on community bulletin boards. At the bottom of the poster there is space to write in a site that has maps. It could be your studio or a regional info center or other place from the list above. Some sites may be able to take both maps and a poster. Or make a poster into a map distribution tool (see above). Some groups have attached a line of photographs of member's work to the bottom of the poster.

Signs

On our visitor surveys, we ask how people found out about Open Studio. The top way is still the yellow signs. They are a powerful way to introduce people to the event, and essential to making people feel welcome to come to your studio especially if it is in your home. Every site is given 10 signs or date change panels. Please ask if you need more.

Personalizing Your Signs.

There is a lot of space on each sign for more information. Use a waterproof marker. Include your site number, your media, an arrow. Remember to write big enough for drivers to read easily. Does your sign need to be double sided to direct traffic coming from both directions?

Weatherproofing Your Signs. Plan for bad weather...

Our signs are heavy paper but must be weatherproofed and mounted before they will be functional. You will need sturdy backing material, preferably not material that will deform if it is wet. Foam core works well as does the corrugated plastic board.

Waterproof your sign by laminating it (Staples offers this but make friends with your local elementary school. Most have a laminater.) Or overlap layers of clear packing tape.

Use a garden stake or other sturdy pole to support your sign. Rustoleum makes a clear spray lacquer. Lay the signs flat and spray one side, let dry, then spray the other side.

Sign Placement

Place signs at every important turn on the way from a major village or town. Use arrows to point the way. Make sure that signs are visible to drivers but don't block important traffic signs. Give some thought to how you are going to affix signs to poles, fence posts etc.. If we have a really windy, rainy (snowy!!) weekend, you might need to check to make sure they are still up. Someone suggested making your own wire framed signs by securely taping a piece of heavy wire bent into a U shape, on the back of a sign.

Sign Issues

Jenny Hermenze SignThe zoning people we have consulted say that this event falls into the same category as a lawn sale or other temporary event and you should be able to put them up for the weekend. Put them up on Friday evening or early Saturday morning. (Please don't put them up a few days before.) Please take them down promptly on Sunday evening.

Here's the evolution of Jenny Hermenze's sign wisdom


Download logos here:

HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE PRESS RELEASE

A. Make it Newsworthy – Write it from the perspective of providing the reader with something they truly need.

B. The Headline is 90% of the News – Make it Direct. Show why this news is important. Write it in a news style without promotional sounding words and excessive punctuation.

C. First Paragraph: Just the Facts

General Advice

Standard Press Release Format

 


PREPARING YOUR STUDIO FOR VISITORS

Parking:

If you think this will be an issue, please mark out a place for people to park. A plastic ribbon stretched between posts will work. Add a "Park Here" sign.

Dogs - Consider confining them in another part of the house.

We love them but not everyone does and small children are often cautious about them.

Entering the Studio:

Make sure that there aren't barriers to entering your studio. Also mark the studio entrance if you need to. Greet everyone and introduce yourself (you might have a studio assistant for the event.)

Setting up Your Studio

If your studio is in your house you may need to block off parts of the house to keep visitors in the studio section. I know people who use parts of their craft/art show booth to do this. Keep pathways clear. Cordon off dangerous materials or tools or remove them from the studio setting. If demonstrating a dangerous process, tape a line to the floor to let people know where to stand.

Open Studio for Visitors With Disabilities

There are lots of resources on the Vermont Arts Council's website on accessibility. From their page "Programs and activities are more welcoming and inclusive when they engage a broad spectrum of people in integrated settings that provide, equal, effective, and enjoyable arts experiences for all. This includes participants, visitors, staff, patrons, and artists along with their friends and families."

The key is to consider how to welcome those that may have disabilities, to your open studio.

The Flow

Imagine your space with a lot of people (who knows how many will show up) in it. Can people make their way around and out a different way or is there a cul de sac where they will become boxed in. Likewise are there stations where a visitor can learn something about your work without having you explain it to them (portfolio of work or a slideshow on your computer)?

Kids Area

If you can do this, set up a space where children can work with materials. This lets their parents concentrate on your work. Really small children may still require supervision however.

Bathrooms

If you are willing to let visitors use your bathroom, great. If not, know where the closest public bathroom is so you can direct them to it.

Food and Seasonal Beauty!

People appreciate a snack and a drink. This does not have to be extensive or expensive. Crackers, cheese and water will work. Partner with a local farm and trade your promotion for their food. Pumpkins, apples, a bouquet of seasonal flowers might also grace your table.

Sales During Open Studio Weekend

Label your work with prices, or post a sign, prices upon request. Often, people are reluctant to ask for the price because they don't want to interrupt you.

Future Sales

Have a guest book where people can leave their addresses and email. If you do custom orders, advertise that and the cut off date for holiday delivery. Have a stack of business cards or postcards in a place where someone could pick one up on the way out of the studio. Let people know about your website. Are you going to be showing in special exhibits or holiday shows? Do you think you will be open during our spring Open Studio Weekend? These announcements could all be presented in the same area as your guest book.

 

Vermont Crafts Council
PO Box 938
Montpelier VT 05601 Back to Open Studio Page