SOS 2016 Wrap-Up Meeting

Thursday, May 19, 2016

location: Cuisine en Locale (ONCE Lounge), 156 Highland Ave.
time: 7-9 pm
minutes recorded by Gena Folts, with some additional editing by Ron Newman

What went well ...

Lots of new people coming to Open Studios, first-timers, those just moving to Somerville. They are buying expensive places, coming looking for art.

Opportunity to market to those who are moving in.

More people from much further away. (Portsmouth and Worcester were two examples)

Google Calendar - very helpful and well executed.

Museum is a great driver for visitors.

Trolley overall was positive, and specifically, opposite running of Trolley helps people see new things.

More people exploring their own neighborhoods.

Publicity: Facebook and Boston.com

Balloons always work out well!

Sales: Good year. Less people, bigger sales.

More people than last year. A little cyclical.

Inside-Out Gallery - very positive for drumming up attention of the event.

Having Artists's Choice on a Sunday was a positive. Museum got a lot of visitors on Friday night. Earlier, takes advantage of light.

Diesel Volunteer Show was a good thing (good publicity and the space was good for larger pieces)

Bantam after event was good. Fun.

Weather was good.

Not on the weekend of Kentucky Derby.

What to improve...

[Some of these comments were sent in advance to feedback@somervilleopenstudios.org rather than stated at the meeting]

Union Square info Booth was cancelled for the second year in a row. We should stop trying to force that booth if we don't have the volunteers.

Day of Volunteers - need to continue to grow that base, and start working on recruiting people earlier.

Artists at the Info Booth - If they take a year off, take a shift at info booth.

East Somerville - more strategies to improve the participation in that part of the city.

Taza Building missed Trolley Stop

Communication: people didn't know about Registration happening.

Hearing about Things Last Minute

Emails not coming through to people

Map Books: People thought Friday markings meant they were only open on Friday Night.

Better markings in the Map Book: better color distinguishing. Pink and purple markers are much too similar. Use more contrasting colors (red vs blue?) for studios that are or aren't open on Friday.

Friday: Friday Night Coordinator? Mandatory Friday or No Friday? Friday participation is declining (artists). Not enough people are open to bring people out for it. Visitors do like the Friday night. Might make sense to just do in certain areas. If Armory was open, just do ones around there.

Branding: Inside-OUT gallery opening reception. The table that was set up didn't have any recognizable logos. A lot of us were shouting SOS, "Arts weekend" wound up being a better talking point. "city-wide" is also a helpful term.

Rotating artwork each year, doesn't make it recognizable each year.

Branding, Hashtag, not having something that changes. Same logo, same hashtag, same terms.

Sharing where they are on the map, photos, how to get to their location, etc.

Branding, literature, post cards, SOS logo. Not as identifiable as Open Studios. Hashtag.

Not enough SOS logos on things.

Somerville Museum: open hours not listed in mapbook for non-SOS weeks.

Music at the Opening Reception is good. Makes it more of a party.

SOS Posters need to be in more windows.

More press release. Broadcast press release. Rebuilding communications team.

Invite them to Artist Preview.

Need to build up volunteers base.

Nearly one-third of our artists did not provide artist's statements on their SOS profile pages. Maybe we should remind artists more often, or more strongly.

In past years, we had several rounds of proofreading for the printed SOS mapbook, but this time we had only one. Next year we need to leave more time for edits to cut down on errors in the book. (Example: wrong dates for Artists' Choice show)

People at locations #89 and #90 (KTRON and Taza Chocolate Factory) mentioned the loss of their trolley stop, and felt that it resulted in fewer people visiting their studios. Can we coordinate and cross-promote with Taza's Cinco de Mayo event?

If Independent Film Festival of Boston is going to happen at the same time again, cross-promote.

This year, we had two advertisers who each had two separate locations (The Training Room and Winter Hill Bank). We marked both locations of each in the printed SOS mapbook, but not on the online map. Our current MySQL database schema didn't anticipate the need for this.

Some of our latitude/longitude corrections for map locations, which we made in 2015, got undone for 2016. Ron had to manually re-apply these. We should try to leave these alone next year rather than overwriting them with Google Maps' less accurate geocoding.

A number of SOS artists registered with their PublicFirstName and PublicLastName reversed. Ron fixed six of these (unfortunately long after the deadline for the printed mapbook), but there may have been more that we missed. In addition to those six, Christina Tedesco is alphabetized and indexed wrongly in the mapbook (under C), but correctly online (under T).

Artists who register with a single "Business/Organization Name" (instead of First Name / Last Name) may not realize that they will be alphabetized and indexed under the first letter of that single name.

If some artists at a home studio or storefront are registered as open on Friday but others are not, we should double-check whether that was intentional. We had one such case this year, and I think a couple last year as well.

We should rethink how and whether artists can list themselves as accessible. I'd like to see our registration forms enforce that better. (For instance, an artist in Mixit or Joy Street studios should never be listed as accessible, but all artists in the Armory or Artisan's Asylum should be listed as accessible.)

We should let artists edit their media types at any time, since we no longer publish this information in the printed mapbook.

It shouldn't be possible to fill in the "Other" free text form field without also checking off "Other" as a media type. Ron had to fix a few of these manually.

Perhaps the Short Description should be mandatory. We had a few artists without one this year, even after Ron sent a nagging email.

We missed the fact that Friends of the Healey School was open Sunday only, until the mapbook had already been printed. The registrant failed to provide this important information. The event occurs every even-numbered year, so we should watch out for it again in 2018.