Keeping your audience happy - Paul Glinkowski

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A presentation from Paul Glinkowski, from The Engine Room, about how to shape your preparation and maintain quality for your exhbition.

Taken from Satisfied customers: keeping your exhibition audience happy.

Part of ECCA's Preparing for your Degree Show week 2009 - a programme to help Arts London students make the most of their final degree show.

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Keeping your audience happy - Paul Glinkowski

  1. 1. Preparing for your Degree Show: Keeping audiences happy Paul Glinkowski The Engine Room University of the Arts London
  2. 2. Workshop structure <ul><li>Maximising the MA show research introduction and key findings </li></ul><ul><li>Arts professionals’ video diaries </li></ul><ul><li>Research recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>What have we learned? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Paul Glinkowski: background <ul><li>Visual Arts Officer ACE 97-03 </li></ul><ul><li>Co-author ‘New Audiences for the Arts’ 04 </li></ul><ul><li>Since 2005 UAL-based researcher/writer </li></ul><ul><li>Axis Graduates ‘advisor’ 06 & 07 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Axis Graduates [now MAstars] <ul><li>http://www.axisweb.org/grHOME.aspx </li></ul><ul><li>An annual online selection of the most promising artists from the UK's leading degree courses. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Selected by influential artists, curators, academics and arts professionals, MAstars gives you an insight into the future of the UK art scene’. </li></ul>
  5. 6. 2007 CLIP/CETL Fellowship <ul><li>‘ The purposes served by MA Fine Art shows, the practices followed in staging them, and their effectiveness in meeting audience needs .’ </li></ul><ul><li>Across the UAL and in the wider UK (with Axis), July-Nov 07. </li></ul>
  6. 7. <ul><li>Aim: To identify examples of current good practice and suggestions for future practice that could benefit staff and students at UAL, and the broader Fine Art HE community in the UK </li></ul>
  7. 8. 4-part method <ul><li>Interviews with UAL staff involved in the staging of degree shows, course tutors and programme directors, communications staff, and exhibition organisers. </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with students presenting work in degree shows at the UAL. </li></ul><ul><li>Survey of arts professionals who visited degree shows in England and Wales in 2007 (Axis Graduates ‘advisors’). </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Video diary’ commentary on degree shows at 3 UAL colleges by arts professionals, plus interviews. </li></ul>
  8. 9. The degree show : what are its roles; what expectations are attached it? <ul><li>Multiple roles: </li></ul><ul><li>It is important in terms of the professional development/progression of individual students, and at the same time fulfils ‘bigger picture’ strategic aims for the college or UAL as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>A balance of different interests has to be negotiated. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Staff perceptions <ul><li>‘ The basic question should be the value to the individual students: what it adds to their learning experience, to the success of their practice and their future employment … we have to give them the best platform to show what they can do.’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ It’s about publicity: our own profile within the neighbouring community, our profile in the university, our profile in the wider arts context.’ </li></ul>
  10. 11. Colleges/University <ul><li>A major promotional opportunity, often geared towards pragmatic aims, e.g: ‘an important tool in terms of publicising the courses and driving recruitment ... or to raise sponsorship.’ </li></ul>
  11. 12. Students: key things <ul><li>Academic assessment. </li></ul><ul><li>An important launchpad to help students to move on to other things. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Degree Shows: art education’s USP <ul><li>‘ A striking feature of arts education compared with other academic disciplines is that it does involve the exposure of the students’ work to a much broader public.’ </li></ul>
  13. 14. Who sees the shows? <ul><li>Potentially interested visitors: </li></ul><ul><li>other artists , current students, college staff , external examiners, potential students , peers from other colleges, school teachers , alumni, collectors , curators, critics , creative industries professionals, potential sponsors and funders , the press, ‘people who want to steal ideas ’, family and friends, people from the neighbourhood , and people with a general interest in the arts. </li></ul>
  14. 15. UAL current performance <ul><li>Visitor experience across the UAL ‘very uneven’. The potential of the shows across the UAL as a whole was not fully capitalised upon. ‘ We’re missing tons of opportunities to get people in.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Degree shows are taking place in an increasingly competitive and professionalised environment – within Higher Education and within the visual arts – and the UAL needs to up its game. </li></ul>
  15. 16. <ul><li>A barrier to being able to improve the shows’ appeal to visitors was a lack of knowledge about who the current audience actually is and about what it thinks of the visitor experience. The general practice appeared to be to collect little, or no, information on audiences. </li></ul>
  16. 17. The current degree show experience of arts professionals : UAL/UK <ul><li>Some examples of very good and effective practice, which catered well for their audience needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Many, though, felt their needs had not been well understood, and were not being met. </li></ul>
  17. 18. Research Recommendations: <ul><li>Preparation </li></ul><ul><li>Presentation </li></ul><ul><li>Review </li></ul>
  18. 19. Preparation <ul><li>Develop a practice-based induction programme for students tied to the development of the degree show. </li></ul><ul><li>Establish degree show committees with representatives from different areas of the college. </li></ul>
  19. 20. <ul><li>Develop appropriate guidelines around the different constituent elements of the show. These should include information about who is responsible for doing what. </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce quality control mechanisms: an independent eye to monitor details of the presentation before the shows open, to achieve consistent standards. </li></ul>
  20. 21. <ul><li>Schedule the show at a time which fits best with the time constraints of the course and ensures that the target audience is most likely to be free to attend. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop targeted mailing lists and produce publicity that communicates well the purpose and benefits of attending. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Presentation <ul><li>Aim for a clean, curatorial presentation in generous-sized, fit-for-purpose exhibiting spaces. Makeshift spaces, such as corridors, or external venues not designed for the display of art, should generally be avoided. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that the first reception point encountered has all the available information and is fully briefed to assist visitors to understand and enjoy the show. </li></ul>
  22. 25. <ul><li>Provide a map which includes clear information on the whereabouts of the work of each artist. </li></ul><ul><li>Provide internal and external signage which is clear, consistent, continuous and easy to spot. Eliminate all extraneous or ambiguous signage. </li></ul>
  23. 28. <ul><li>Provide information on individual students and courses that helps to contextualise the work. Ensure that the overall quality of the information provided is consistent and of a high standard. </li></ul>
  24. 31. <ul><li>Provide well produced catalogues, or other forms of ‘take away’ info, that includes: illustrations of the work of featured artists; artists’ contact details (including URLs); and artists’ statements. </li></ul>
  25. 34. <ul><li>Ensure that all equipment is switched on and working at all times whilst the show is open. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor the showing spaces to check that they are adequately maintained and continuously invigilated. </li></ul>
  26. 36. <ul><li>Provide well-signposted spaces and facilities where visitors can relax and take refreshments. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that college facilities are open and well maintained during visiting hours. Avoid obtrusive maintenance works and unnecessary clutter. </li></ul>
  27. 38. <ul><li>Encourage and prepare students to be approachable, helpful and willing to talk about the show, their work and their study experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop effective systems for promoting the availability of work for sale, and for administering purchases. </li></ul>
  28. 39. Review <ul><li>Develop mechanisms for capturing audience data and feedback. Visitors should be given an opportunity to join a mailing list. </li></ul><ul><li>Establish review forums, which should include senior managers, to discuss how well things went, and to develop proposals for future change. </li></ul>
  29. 40. Maximising UAL Degree Shows

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