art exhibition this year was the first one following Roy Smales’s handover to me. I was well aware that there was a lot to live up to, as Roy had run the exhibition so well and for so long. Thankfully Roy had made the whole organisational process so much easier by keeping meticulous records of what
needed to be done in a ‘month by month’ process. Even with this head start there was a lot to learn.
When the doors opened, on the 27th at 10am, I was hugely impressed with the volume of people who came out to visit the exhibition. I have run much larger Arts Council funded exhibitions in the past and know first hand just how difficult it can be to get a good turn out. The Rotary Art Exhibition is only small and in a community centre for one day and so to get the numbers we did is very impressive.
Alongside the diverse and varied work on show, this year we ran a ‘kids art event’ in an effort to
encourage a new audience to visit the exhibition. This was a trial and as such I was well aware it might only be my children in attendance, however I was pleasantly surprised. We had a good turn out of
families, who all enjoyed the ‘funded’ Halloween themed art activities. They also bought cakes and drinks and even pictures.
An impressive range of homemade cakes and drinks was once again supplied by Inner Wheel, who raised £331 for their charity funds.
Overall this year’s event raised less than the previous one. I had expected a drop in money raised as we exhibited less paintings - around 130 in comparison to the previous years 200. This alone resulted in less admission money generated by the artists. As well as this we didn’t have the luxury of a free van and so there were the rental costs to come off the total. Finally to make the set up easier for all the Rotarian
volunteers, who were fantastic and so appreciated on the Friday, we employed two helpers to do the heavy lifting. There were also other small additions namely postage costs and diesel for the van.
That said I do think this event is more than an exercise in figures. It’s a great thing to raise the largest amount of money possible for each year’s nominated charity, however I think with this event the club needs to look way beyond that. The art exhibition is a ‘feel good’ event, one that engages with the community. As a way of promoting Rotary and the club it is excellent, and in future I think we can get even more from the hard work that goes into it. With the main exhibition we can reach out to more artists than we currently do and encourage an even more diverse collection of work, with the inclusion of more contemporary art, photography, sculpture etc. With the inclusion of the kids art event, we can reach local families and also potentially schools, with the possibility of running a schools art competition with prizes for the winners.
With regard to this years costs I also think some of these could be reduced or removed all together. This is a charity event and as such through the club’s business connections (e.g. The Business Partnership) we could lean a little on existing ‘Corporate social responsibility’ to gain free help and free transportation etc. Ideally we should just be overseeing the set up of the exhibition, especially putting up and transporting the heavy boards needed to hang the paintings.
Finally, we do need to ensure that all money raised at the exhibition goes to the charities that we are supporting. Transparency when it comes to raising money for charity, and ultimately the public purse, is essential.
I’d also like to thank all the people who gave up their time to help run and set up the exhibition. From the initial set up to registering the artists, from organising the raffle to sales on the day it was nothing less than fantastic. I ended up manning the kids art table on the day and so I was too covered in paint, glitter and sparkly stickers to be much help anywhere else! so it was a huge support to know that everything was being run so professionally.
I will send out an email in due course to all club members encouraging them to contact me with anysuggestions they have for next year. During the exhibition I was offered some great ideas on how things could be improved and I hope to take on and implement as many of those as possible in future years.