“One price fits all” at this fundraiser event for a local art league

By Sherry Truhlar, President, Red Apple Auctions

Artist auction display - sketch

Last February (2012), two friends of mine headed to Old Town, Alexandria, VA to participate in The Art League’s Patrons’ Show.  For a $175 ticket, they each came home with an original work of art.  It was a sold-out night with almost 700 people attending.

I haven’t yet attended this event myself, but it’s gotten some good P.R.  My friends had read about it in Washingtonian Magazine’s “Best Of” issue where it had been featured as the “Most Fun Art Fundraiser.”

I share this concept (as told to me through their experience) as the idea might resonate with you.

This annual event features hundreds of original pieces donated by Art League and Torpedo Factory Art Center artists.  The number of tickets sold matches the number of works donated, so everyone goes home with a piece of art.  Some of the selections are worth $175 … others are valued at thousands more.

(You can see photos of the 2012 artwork on Flicker here:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/theartleague/sets/72157629236975371/ )

For reasons which will soon become obvious, guests are encouraged to view the works online and in person in the two weeks prior to the event.  They are advised to jot down the numbers of the pieces they find most appealing.  (The reason being is that they won’t have much time to decide at the event!)

On event night, ticket-holders crowd into the art space, taking up all three floors.  Seating is limited.  The announcer stands on the ground floor in the atrium area so he can be more easily heard and seen by those in the second and third levels.  Some guests lean over the railing to see and hear.

Tickets are randomly drawn as the event gets underway.  When the name of each ticket-holder is announced, he has a few seconds to shout out the number of the piece he wishes to claim.

If you’re lucky enough to be one of the first ticket holders drawn (my friends were in the 200s and 400s, respectively) it can be a short night for you.  Otherwise, the process takes several hours.  You’ll need to listen to each number called so that you can cross it from your list, should the chosen piece be on your list of favorites, too.

Though other prizes are randomly awarded throughout the night (e.g. tickets to shows, gift cards to restaurants and hotels), the focus is on the art.

Does it sound like the right fit for your growing art consortium?  My friends had fun and it’s a neat way to acquire an original piece of art.  It might just work for you.

see also 1/7/2013

 

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PUPPETRY ARTS AT UCONN

Bart P. Roccoberton Jr., Director of Puppet Arts at UConn

When people think of puppetry, they often think of popular, children’s shows like The Muppets, Sesame Street or Mr. Rogerssee how many of these TV puppets you can name! However, puppetry is much more than that. You cannot go to the movies or watch television without at some point seeing a puppet, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Puppetry has been used in movies and television for years, and with new technology, the form is only getting better. The world is their palette, using many types of materials. And with the advancement of technology, we can expect even better puppets and better performances. Though puppetry is still performed in traditional ways, the use in popular media is significant. They are easy to reset and easy to tweak, saving industries money to gain the same effect as if they chose to go with computer animation.

Bart P. Roccoberton Jr, director of the renowned Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut, explained that there are many different paths to go into the field of puppetry. The most traditional is becoming an apprentice to a puppeteer or, now there’s the option of studying puppetry at a university, which provides a broad knowledge of the field in a much shorter time than it would take to learn independently. Roccoberton’s students at the University also come out of school learning the craft of puppetry, and the self-discipline of being your own boss.

The Puppet Arts Program students at UConn also work closely with the drama department, so the puppeteers learn how to perform using their puppets as well as being taught in the puppetry program the craft of building them. Roccoberton explains that by knowing how to both build and perform, it gives the students more of an edge when they begin their professional careers. Performers who know how to build will better be able to understand the puppet they are working with. While the puppet builders will be able to create a puppet that can move with the performer and create fluidity in the performance.

UConn’s Puppet Arts Program is one of only two schools in the country that offer a degree in the form, and it’s the only one to give three different types of puppetry degrees. There are also still only a few schools in the world that offers accredited academic degrees in Puppetry. UConn is also home to The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry,  which has  more than 2,500 puppets from all over the world; an archive of books, manuscripts, posters, drawings, audio-visual materials and photographs all covering the history of puppetry. The Institute curates and produces exhibitions of puppetry, both at the Ballard Museum and for touring across the United States.

In 1962, when  the Drama, Art and Music Departments at UConn merged to form the School of Fine Arts, Professor Frank W. Ballard added puppetry to the curriculum. Classes in puppetry began in 1964 and continue today under Roccoberton who succeeded Frank Ballard as the Director in 1990.

Bart P. Roccoberton Jr., is a graduate of the University of Connecticut’s MFA program, as well as Artistic Director of The Pandemonium Puppet Company, and Founder and former Director of The Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.                                                                                   –contributed by Mallory Matula

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Staying Current in Book Publishing

by Melissa Jacobson, Book Designer, Chelsea Green Publishing

13 Melissa Jacobson - graphic design.png

Although many facets of publishing haven’t changed in decades, a lot of its opportunities require curiosity and adaptability. In college, I pursued the subjects that interested me instead of focusing on a specific end goal. Interning and volunteering helped me explore a variety of art- and book-related professions. Helping a sculptor who worked on commission taught me I wanted an office job. A letterpress shop introduced me to the beautiful mechanics of type and design layout. Researching new markets and grant funding opportunities for nonprofits showed me how much I enjoyed organizing information and demonstrating results. I discovered my long-term interests and confidently listed over 3 years of relevant experience on my first job application.

Very soon I learned about the highs and lows of working for a company that develops commercial products. My first full-time job began in 2008, so I accumulated and managed multiple workloads when colleagues were laid off. Then, we published the company’s first New York Times best seller and I couldn’t imagine wanting to work anywhere else. I learned the most when priorities shifted and I had the opportunity to be trained in, or more often teach myself, something new to help the forward momentum of the company. My book arts, printmaking, and Excel experience had opened the door for me as a production assistant. My other creative experiences and passion for organization bought new and diverse tasks to my desk. Before long, I had to write up new job descriptions to explain how I routinely assisted multiple departments. When I decided to leave for another opportunity, they had to hire two employees to replace me.

At Chelsea Green, I am a book designer who focuses on print, but I always keep the future eBook conversion in mind. Digital media inherently offers interesting potential for many designers; but, markets are still being researched, budgets are constantly re-evaluated, and designing eBooks frequently just means simplifying the print book styles. But that doesn’t let anyone off easy.

Learning specific software can be a moving target for book designers working on print and digital editions. The first publisher I interned for in college still used Pagemaker even though we were being taught InDesign and most other publishers were using QuarkXpress. Now, I only need familiarity with Quark to work in the archives, Adobe continues to release new versions of InDesign that are barely cross-compatible, and I am brushing up on HTML so I can edit eBook code with Sigil or Dreamweaver, when necessary.

But in a more positive light, many new software developments are providing more efficient steps for all phases in the print and digital book design process. Staying current and relevant in a fast-paced work environment means learning how to facilitate your overall workload. For a book designer, this can make an earlier task take longer but clearly results in time or monetary savings down the line. Every publisher operates differently, but my experience at small, independent companies, has encouraged me to continually improve my skills and efficiency for the quality of our books and timeliness of our releases.

Melissa Jacobson interned for her first book publisher in 2005 and is now the first in-house book designer at Chelsea Green Publishing. Previously, she spent over three years at Quirk Books where she coordinated print production, managed and designed sales materials, and established a digital content conversion program. She earned her MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from The University of the Arts and her BFA in Illustration with a minor in English from the University of Connecticut.

 

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Evolve or Die: The Arts Must Use Social Media

Dan Meagher – Director of Marketing for Diablo Ballet

13 Diablo Ballet

Marketing dance & ballet is tough. We’ve built a wall up that keeps the many out because they feel they don’t fit in. I think it’s time to take the “classical” out of the “classical arts.” The word “classical” conjures up visions of going to a grand, marble columned opera house where people sit in velvet seats and drink champagne. Can we make people any more afraid to go see a ballet?

At Diablo Ballet, I believe that social media helps us break down these walls. We been able engage dance fans and non-dance fans by showing video of legendary dancer performance on YouTube, share inspiring quotes on Facebook, and even creating a new ballet via Twitter. And people love it.

The response has been an outpouring of support. In less than one year, we grew out Twitter followers from 500 to over 5,000, increased our Facebook followers by 90%, and reached over 10,000 views of our YouTube channel. How this was achieved was no great marketing secret. We simply talk to people and showed them why we think dance is one of the most powerful forms of communication. Very simple and basic.

For you administrator types..Yes, we even saw revenue increase related to social media. We sold out our May program and used a special SM code to track sales. Our November holiday performance saw a significant increase, in part due to our “Give Up the Nut(cracker)” SM campaign.

Simply put…non-profit arts organizations must embrace the power of social media. Our lives are mediated. We check our Facebook or Twitter several times day, send pictures on Instagram, tell our stories on blogs, and talk to family & friends on Skype. We have to harness the power to reach new, non-traditional audiences. They;’re out there and waiting for the arts to join the social media party.

We have many folks following us on Twitter who have never seen a dancer performance. I love that.

This is the power of social media. If we don’t reach this audience, the classical arts will slowly go away. Why? Because we are no longer relevant in people’s lives. We must tell and show people why the arts matter…why we can touch them. We face an uphill battle with the growing leisure industry. Not only does dance compete with other arts (theatre, symphony, opera, museums), but also movies, television, sports, and so many other options. Today, one doesn’t need to leave their house to be entertained. We can watch a movie of our choice at home on our computer, order food delivered from our computer, and even video chat with friends own our computer. Why should anyone lhave the need to eave home to be entertained?

One way Diablo Ballet is harnessing the power of social media is through our Web Ballet project. We are creating the first ballet made up of suggestions from the internet, which will be performed live this March. With this idea, we’ve engaged people in creating art, we’re allowing people to share in the creative process, and we’re showing them that they can be a part of dance. We’ve received hundreds of suggestions from all over the world, which shows that there is a desire for participation in the arts. On February 15th, our choreographer will review all the suggestions and choose 7 to incorporate into the new ballet. We’re excited to see what the world creates.

You don’t need to do project like The Web Ballet to engage your audience. Just talking to people in a conversational style about what your organization is doing is a great start. Share the inside stories, the behind-the-scenes tales. Take photos of your new sets or costumes. Share a video of your office manager’s birthday cake. Put a human face on your organization. Even though we are disconnected by social media, we still want to know that there is a heart beating inside the organization.

Social media is a new, exciting world for the arts. We must connect and engage in order to survive.

Dan Meagher is Director of Marketing for Diablo Ballet, a professional dance company in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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