5 tips for hosting a low-cost community arts event

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Situation: You’ve been asked to plan a community arts event. It needs to be hugely successful, but you have little-to-no budget. Impossible? We don’t think so!

Solution: By networking with fellow members in the arts community, presenting your event to neighboring venues and businesses, and building a team of partners eager to support your cause, you are bound to succeed! Utilize these 5 simple tips to help get your community arts event, or any community event, off the ground (and running)!

1. Choose a location that will benefit from increased traffic flow. If it’s a place that’s near and dear to your heart, even better.
A venue with power, running water and restrooms is best as you won’t need to rent the infrastructure separately. If you can establish why your event will be beneficial to the venue, it’s possible that you can co-present with them and may not even need to rent the space. Never hurts to ask!

2. Pool your resources.
Clearly define your cause and share with others. You will be surprised at how easily you can pull together a team of local volunteers who are willing to help in the planning process. This may be one other person, or several people who have different areas of interest and skill sets. Establish a common vision of what the event will be so that everyone is on the same page.

Our Maker Doer, Tamara Clammer, recently planned an event at Freighthouse Square in Tacoma, Washington. Their committee consisted of Freighthouse Square’s property manager, a talented artist and coordinator who was formerly part of a local co-op, and Tamara. They pooled all of their talent and networks to flawlessly pull off a free community arts event, put on by the community for the community. Additionally, a group of local authors joined, providing additional traffic to the event while at the same time giving the authors an opportunity to share excerpts from their books and network.

3. Schedule a range of activities and entertainment suitable for all ages.
A powerful community arts event has the ability to appeal to a wide range of people. This is important to keep in mind as you book and schedule the entertainment. When you provide a diverse range of options for all ages, you will attract larger audiences.

Tamara posted a Call for Artists on Craigslist, asking if anyone would like to participate in a free community arts event with an interactive, hands-on theme. Everyone who responded was invited to a walk-through to look at the space and determine what they would like to do. As a result, her event activities included Tarot reading, magic, comedy, roller derby, games, painting, LEGOs, and more!

Hint: Setting-up areas at your event for people to sit and relax is always a great way to give people time to rest before checking out all of your many activities. This also helps people to stick around a little longer!

4. Come up with creative solutions that don’t cost money.
Investigate your venue space and brainstorm ideas for fun ways to engage with it. You will be surprised at how creative you can get!

At the Freighthouse Square event, the banquet room had a black and white checkered dance floor. Tamara transformed that space into a GIANT game of checkers re-purposing empty red and black LEGO bins as the checker pieces (generously donated from the LEGO guy downstairs). It worked perfectly!

5. Invite EVERYONE!
Once you’ve finalized the venue, date and time of your event, list it!

Brown Paper Tickets is a great resource as you are able to post free events or ticketed events, all for free! Tell all of your friends, family, coffee house owners, local shops, and restaurants you can find about your event. Ask your friends to tell their friends and their family. Your Brown Paper Tickets event page easily links to your Facebook and Twitter accounts; another great way to promote. Lastly, get your event listed in a local paper. To do this, decide why your event is amazing and why local media should know about it, then reach out to them. Getting an event listing is great, but if you can get them to write an article, even better. Sell them!

Good luck pulling off your community arts event and remember, have fun!

If you’d like extra promotional help or ideas for your events, feel free to email us at: Promo@BrownPaperTickets.com or call (800) 838-3006 (Option 5). We’re always here to help!

To read more about the Freighthouse Square event Tamara produced, read these successfully placed event articles:

Tacoma Stories article

Tacoma Weekly article

If you’d like to reach out to Tamara to find out how she made her event so successful or help with putting on your own, email: Tamara@BrownPaperTickets.com.

Want more help and advice on pulling off successful events? Subscribe to our twice-a-month Event Success newsletter!

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  • I would also add effectve promotion, no matter whether the traditional way or on the Web.