On the 17th & 18th March I held my first pop-up gallery in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. The gallery was hosted at 55 East Studio on East Street from 10 am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Running and organising a pop-up gallery has been something I have wanted to do for a very long time, but have always been too intimidated to do so by the thought of something going wrong. Having now done it, I would like to share with you some of the successes and failures of the event and what I would do differently next time.
About the event: The pop-up gallery involved 5 artists and 8 pieces of artwork. There were 15 A4 prints and 10 A5 prints of each piece of art which were being sold at a recommended donation price of £5 for an A4 print and £2 for an A5 print, all of the money raised was donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
For the best part of the first day we had very few people come into the studio. We later realised that this was because there was a market stand obscuring the shop window to people on the other side of the street. When the market stand was shut down and taken home around 2pm, many people started walking into the studio.
During the time that we had no people arriving we decided to sell some prints on the street. 55 East Street (the location of the studio) is home to a large market that spans almost the whole width and length of the street providing a bustling environment with people predominantly carrying change – which we thought would be a perfect target audience for our £2 prints for charity. There was some success in our street vending venture, although due to snowy weather and reluctant spenders it proved more difficult to shift some of our stock than we had anticipated. After a half hour of intermittently braving the cold and trying to sell our prints we retreated back to the studio to work on our marketing.
The window of the gallery was fairly bare and potentially uninviting to begin with. To amend this we hung a string of TCT branded balloons across the top of the shop window, and created posters advertising the price of the prints. We also put up our opening times and dates, which showed we were only there for a limited time, to hopefully incite more business. Lastly we put some of the prints for sale up in the window, to show what people could expect to buy, and hoped that some of the more striking prints would entice people in to purchase a few.
We posted on social media throughout the day, posting pictures of the gallery and the prints. We posted directions on how to get there to make people’s journey to the studio as easy as possible. As it was snowy and cold we knew people would be reluctant to come out. To try to overcome this we also told people about the lovely cafe next door which sold homemade cakes, sourdough sandwiches, soups and hot drinks, so that people knew they could grab something warm to eat and drink next door.
The second day at the studio proved to be far more successful, there was a constant flow of people and the studio was steadily busy all day.
Some of the things I would change next time:
Firstly some of the prints hadn’t come out as intended because I had not properly communicated what I wanted, and made the assumption that the format I had sent them in would’ve displayed the picture as I liked. I also didn’t ask for samples before printing 20 or so of each, which if I had’ve I would have been able to amend my mistake before printing them all.
Another potential flaw was advertising, in hindsight I could have definitely pushed my marketing more and would have distributed flyers earlier on, say one month before the event. One step further would have been to conduct some research into our target audience and distribute the flyers wisely to those who were most likely to attend the event.
Thirdly I didn’t have a clear idea of how many people would be attending the event, on the Facebook event I could see that 27 people were ‘interested’ but I had no solid number, apart from family members and friends that I could rely on showing up. In future I think I will use Eventbrite for people to book tickets, which will hopefully give me a more accurate number of those who will be at the event. I had anticipated that the most we would expect over the two days would be 50 people ,so I prepared everything with 50 in mind, in the end we had 33 people attend the event which was more than I had hoped for, but under what I had prepared for, which seemed to work out ok.
I would also do more in depth research in the area that the event is taking place in order to really understand the surrounding audience better. Nothing went too wrong because of our location, and the market outside was more of a help than a hinderance, however I think we could have optimised our success by more in depth research.
Overall I was very happy with how the event went and was pleased with the amount raised. From this experience I would definitely like to organise another event such as this and feel I will be better prepared for it, having learned through the mistakes and successes of this event.
Thanks for reading! And a huge thank you to everyone who helped out and donated, your help is greatly appreciated! x