Enhancing Art Tours

Artists and art tour organizers from the Monadnock region and Windham County gathered to discuss tour participation, audiences, marketing, and “pizzaz factor” of the dozens of art tours around the southeastern vermont and southwestern new hampshire regions.

Recently, studio attendance and sales have been down. How can they turn it around?


A rundown of the local art tours in 2015:

First Fridays of every month - Gallery Walk Brattleboro, VT

May - Vermont Crafts Council Open Studio Tour, VT (statewide)

June - ArtWalk in downtown Keene, NH

July - Rock River tour Newfane, VT

October

  • Keene Art Tour (typically in November), Keene, NH
  • Brattleboro West Arts (typically in September), West Brattleboro, VT
  • Vermont Crafts Council Open Studio Tour, VT (statewide)
  • Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour, Keene, Spofford, Stoddard, Munsonville, Antrim, Nelson, Rindge, New Ipswich, NH
  • Monadnock Art Tour, Harrisville, Hancock, Dublin, Peterborough, Jaffrey, Marlborough, NH
  • River Valley Art Tour, Westmoreland, Chesterfield, Spofford, NH

November

  • NH Open Doors Studio Tour, NH (statewide)
  • Walpole Artisans Cooperative Tour, Walpole, NH
  • Putney Craft Tour, Putney, Westminster, Saxtons River, VT

A brainstorm of ideas that could help promote and differentiate the tours:

Ideas for Artists:

  • host brochures for other art tours, share info with visitors
  • invite a “buddy,” an artist from another location or with a different type of art that will draw a different crowd of visitors to your open studio. The relationship can be reciprocal.
  • have a variety of products with a range of prices so all tour participants can purchase your work. Originals, prints, calendars, cards, what else?
  • have payment plans to make your work more affordable
  • do a demo of how you make your work
    • post pisctures of the process
    • lay out tools for visitors to look at and even touch

Ideas for Organizers:

  • change the dates so that they don’t overlap so intensely
  • have a central location to display samples of artists’ work so visitors can decide where to go
  • fundraise to invest in marketing / a pr coordinator
    • find business/corporate sponsorships, trades, and support
      increase artist fees
    • look for a grant (Arts Alive! may be able to provide fiscal sponsorship)
    • perhaps a cooperative of tours could hire 1 person and share their time?

 

 

  • think about branding - what makes your tour  or different and how do you communicate that through your ads, signs, maps, and brochures. How do your artists engage in your brand, whatever it may be.
  • host a “town hall tour” or “inn to inn tour” rather than a studio tour, where artists in towns across the region display their work in central locations
  • partner with the state or utilize state marketing resources to increase out of state visitors
  • partner with a transportation organizer, like a bike tour grou

 

 

 

 

 

An intriguing parting thought:

 

 

“To what extent can studio tours help us be better citizens, define the community in which we live, and help us build stronger relationships with our neighbors?” - Doug Cox, violin-maker - Brattleboro, VT