Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is this the right event for me to enter?
For first timers, this is a complex question. The answer is dependent on how you interpret your response to thefollowing two important issues:
A: Will Dorset Art Weeks attract the ‘right‘ visitors for the work I produce, and am I in the right location to achieve my target? Am I doing this to reconnect with past clients in a new way, or am I expecting to attract a new group of people to my work? If new people, what are my expectations? Am I being realistic to expect sales to match or make a profit on my outlay? If a profit, what do I think is a realistic target and how can this be judged? Or - Am I doing this because I want to begin to get my work seen and interested in taking part to get reactions and comments to inform my next steps?
If you are expecting pretty much a whole new audience you may need to think about location - Am I exhibiting in a location that is easy to reach or am I out on limb? If you aren’t easy to reach, are there other exhibitors nearby that form a cluster with the potential to work together to share visitors?
NB: Many Art Weeks ‘old timers’ will say that it takes two or three art week events to build up a reliable, minimum following.
B: What am I going to say about my work in the brochure that gives people the confidence in the quality of my work to invest in time and travel to visit? Do I have the right quality image to illustrate what I am saying about my work in terms of the stimulus, the techniques and my experience? Am I offering demonstrations or any other interaction to make the visit welcoming and interesting? Am I mentioning the price range as part of the message - how might this attract/affect the type of visitors I need?
NB: Striking a balance between allowing people to browse in peace and being available to answer questions is crucial. It is undoubtedly the case that following people around and pushing sales is counterproductive. Pricing is a key issue in the relationship between the text, the image and the nature of the work. Evaluation suggests that visitors are becoming more discerning about what they will go and see. Many visitors use the DAW website to research a trail of selected visits.
2. Would I be better sharing a venue?
If you think this is something worth exploring write a short description of your work and which area of the county you wish to be based in, AND your contact details, as soon as possible. The office will communicate all requests as a ‘Soulmates’ item on the news pages of the DVA website. If you are exploring this possibility, it is easier for everyone that you don’t register for Art Weeks until the search period has elapsed. If you want to discuss this, do email the office and we’ll call you.
3. How do I get in touch about my entry?
- EMAIL (always preferred as the first port of call): [email protected]. In case it is necessary to discuss your enquiry with you rather than write a complex or possibly ambiguous answer, PLEASE INCLUDE A DAY TIME TELEPHONE NUMBER. Also include a preferred time for us to call back. Please don’t lose our replies to your spam box, i.e. make sure communications from Dorset Visual Arts and Dorset Art Weeks aren’t filtered out.
- TELEPHONE: 01305 853100. The office is staffed on a part time basis - generally Mondays and Wednesdays. If you have to ring at another time, please leave a simple and clear answerphone message including - please - your phone number at a pace we can write down!
- CALLING IN: Please check first by email or phone that we are in the office on the Monday or Wednesday you wish to visit. In the DAW lead-in period we are often called elsewhere for part of the day.
4. Who’s who and who helps when I am stuck or unsure of what I should be doing?
DAW Manager: Suzy Rushbrook - all registration + entries + events - including print and proofing
DAW Communication: lead, Rachel Dunford + Office support
DAW Fees: Mandy Rathbone
DAW Regional Coordinators:
- East Dorset + Purbeck – Caroline Parrott
- Mid + North + South + West Dorset – Rachel Dunford
Much more is done re sponsors, projects and launch events, which are achieved by the team within the DAW office. Jem Main is still involved with the event but because of other DVA projects is very much tacking a back seat in terms of day to day activity.
We have in place two Super Area Coordinators who will be available to give support. Also, by the end of January we will have around 10 additional, local, assistant coordinators who will help with mapping and distribution and placement of local large signage.
PLEASE NOTE: We ask ALL participants to assist in getting brochures into local facilities that our overarching event distribution can’t reach and to ‘top-up’ as necessary in the lead-in and during the event.
5. Do I need insurance?
YES - Definitely - You NEED Public Liability Insurance
We suggest either of the following two approaches - but beware, read the caveat in the first option! Check your own house or studio insurance policy to see if you are covered for temporary, public activity. If it isn’t clear or specifically not included, you should think to ask your insurer for clarification and, or, to extend your cover. BUT!!!!! - DO read the rest of this paragraph AND the second point below before acting. In some instances - fortunately rare - artists raising this have alarmed their insurer about the use of the premises for making and public access: in some cases resulting in the insurer canceling the policy, in others, imposing an additional premium in excess of the cost of the option below.
A-N ‘Artists Newsletter’ is a subscription based news service for artists - electronic and print options. Subscription includes studio /workshop insurance called AIR - free. This covers materials, the processes and finished work and other activities generally encompassed in making creative work and giving access to it. We recommend it... Of course, other insurances are available! The monthly newsletter includes a considerable amount of useful information, news and access to on-line guidance on all sorts of relevant, creative issues. The subscription fee is around £40. See: www.a-n.co.uk
6. What are the essential tasks that will help me and the event as a whole?
The essential elements of what is included in the DAW fee is listed in the DAW Spaces and Prices Document. Whilst DAW will lead the production and marketing campaign, the degree of success depends on everyone taking part in:
- Supporting the social media campaign in one or more of its various forms. Please follow us in all of our online formats. NB. Please remember - social media is not the place to air gripes - public messages should be positive. We have listed the communication route to address questions and problems and we do respond quickly.
- Early communication with other local participants to develop a good list of outlets for brochures, postcards and signs + a rota to deliver and top them up from your local depot - Your regional or local assistants will prompt this activity.
- Using neighbourhood newsletters and forums to announce what Art Weeks is and how we welcome our neighbours to visit. Strangely, perhaps, the people most local to many DAW artists don’t visit them! Non-selling PVs can be one way of addressing this - if they want to buy they will come back at another time.
7. When do I get the DAW brochure, signage etc?
Our aim is for the brochures to be distributed to important public locations either just before or during the Easter Holidays. This distribution is done professionally The timing seeks to attract the second home owners and other regular visitors to the county. They also distribute the studio allocation and signage to your local depot. This takes about ten days. We will send up-dates on distribution news as everything progresses, so you know when you can collect your personal allocation. THE QUANTITIES ARE GIVEN IN THE SPACES AND PRICES DOCUMENT.
8. What do visitors expect?
- That the quality of the work matches the positivity of your description and what you have said about your experience.
- Informed, consistent prices that are appropriate to the work, the materials and the experience of the artist.
- The opportunity to look in peace as well as to be able to question the artist
- Demonstrations where possible
- That group shows are stewarded by people knowledgeable about the work and artists - and that the groups don’t use the occasion for gossiping between themselves.
- That OPENING AND CLOSING TIMES ARE ADHERED TO
- That there aren’t a lot of other incidental ‘non-art’ things on offer
- Refreshments should be free or by voluntary donations - there are trading laws about food and drink which reinforce this case. Except, of course, where there are the appropriate and legal facilities
9. Is it value for money?
We believe DAW represents excellent value for money. If it didn’t the proportion of repeat participants would be low.
In fact, the overall cost to artists hasn’t risen over the last four events - eight years! Ok, yes, the headline price increased last time but is still less than the previous arrangement, which involved a two year continuous subscription to Dorset Visual Arts.
We have developed Dorset Art Weeks to be what it is through very many trials and tribulations. Many people ask why we produce the amount of brochures that we do. Why, because it is a fact that a good many artists receive commissions and other work throughout the two year shelf life of the brochure. It is weighty and good enough to keep on the shelf. Indeed, many arts officers use it for reference for sourcing artists for commissions and workshops. However, this year we are reducing our printed brochure to 30,000 as research shows this is the sensible way forward in this digital age. And because there are fewer Tourist Information Offices and library supervision. More investment has gone into our new and much improved website and registration form. This is now mobile responsive and with mobile data being what it is visitors can fully engage with the event solely online if they wish.
More artists tell us the event represents exceptional value for money than those who complain vocally. And, of course, for professional and semi-professional self-employed artists and makers the costs are tax deductable. Artists who take part in the event consistently report that the two weeks represent a reliable percentage of their income. Several invest in additional personal publicity to chime with the attention Art Weeks receives regionally and nationally. Indeed, in the last few years an increased number of people have contacted us from elsewhere in the country asking for brochures to be posted to them and additional evidence of more people coming from abroad - mostly EU.
Nevertheless, for hobby or leisure artists and some new to making professionally, in this context it may well seem expensive. This is why we prompt all prospective participants to question whether Art Weeks is the right event to take their first steps into putting their work in the public domain. For some, the interaction with the public is a reward in itself.
The organisation cannot make people visit or buy work. We try as hard as we can to provide an encouraging format for the public to approach the event with curiosity and enthusiasm.
Success comes to the participants not just in sales but also in the comments in visitor books. One artist said - ‘they keep me going through the winter months’. The feedback keeps the office going for two years!
We wish all participants success in all its forms. The DAW team will work hard on your behalf and hope you will ask questions and get answers to ensure all the tasks leading to the event are well thought through and tested.
If you have concerns, please raise them as the first resort - not the last.
10. Do you have any graphics I can use for promotion?
Yes - we do! Please click on the links below depending on what size you require.