SOS 2018 Wrap-Up Meeting

Thursday, May 17, 2018

location: Somerville Museum, One Westwood Road
time: 6:30-8 pm
minutes recorded by Matt Kaliner and Ron Newman

[You may also be interested in reading the SOS 2016 wrap-up meeting notes.]

How was turnout in your individual spaces?

  • Hilary (home) - Good positive energy. New faces. Maybe lower numbers by clicker, but felt good.
  • Jane (Vernon St) - Saturday was great. We were packed. Sunday was less. Overall, busiest in years.
  • Ellie (Mad Oyster) - Busier on Saturday. Could hardly keep up with it.
  • Alison (Vernon St) - Felt busier on Sunday than on Saturday.
  • Sarah (home) - Busier on Saturday.
  • Pat (home) - Friday was quiet. But traffic numbers for the weekend were good. Sales were surprisingly good. Sunday morning started slow but then got good. SOS record for sales.
  • Summary: Attendance was possibly lower than recent years, though that varied by site. Vernon Street felt busy.

What kind of publicity did you do?

  • Jane (Vernon St) - I did everything. I used mailchimp and that helped. I sent special emails to everyone who had bought from me, and they all came in.
  • Alison (Vernon St) - Promoted on social media, told friends and family, and it spread to their friends. It worked. We also put Christmas lights around our door in Vernon to attract attention.
  • Pat (home) - We did some promotion at the New England Folk Festival. Balloons on the corner of the block. For the first time, two out of three of us at my home had pieces in the museum show, and that helped.
  • Sarah (home) - I used mailchimp too and it really helped. Decorated by front door.
  • Summary: Mailchimp, individual emails to patrons, decorations, world of mouth and social media all seem to help (and possibly raise attendance in nearby studios too).

What kinds of publicity-related comments or suggestions do you have?

  • Pat (home) - I noticed that the mapbook stand at Porter was at a new location and funny angle - it never seemed to empty out. [Matt K admits to have been stuffing it too]
  • Hilary (home) - We had to scramble because the mapstands were locked up - long story. We now have twice as many stands and have new options for next year about where to place them. Artists could adopt stands, and we could put one in Assembly. Haven't updated mapbook locations in 10+ years - would require new permits.
  • Ron (volunteer) - Artists concerned about the Gilman Sq mapstand. Could be moved to Sarma?
  • Matt C (Central St) - People in our building felt that print visibility was down - didn't see as much in print media.
  • Ellie (mad oyster) - we were in the Weekly Dig and the Somerville Times.
  • Ron (volunteer) -we should be sending press releases to all the local media sources, radio (WBUR, WGBH, college stations), print (Globe, Improper Bostonian), tv (Chronicle on WCVB Channel 5).
  • Nancy (Mad Oyster) - a few years ago I had a list of dozens of contacts
  • Pat (home) - SAC could promote us more.
  • Alison (Vernon St) - SAC did some cross-promotion for us.
  • Ron (volunteer) - Promoting on facebook isn't enough. Need to update websites, etc.
  • Jane (Vernon St) - GBH, Jim Braude/Boston Public Radio could have covered this.
  • Terry (Board) - Media always needs a new angle, liked the nut show.
  • Matt C. (Central St) - In the early years, we would send out a press package than do a follow up call.
  • Jane (Vernon St) - I wonder if people who are having shows just before could help publicize it.
  • Ellie (Mad Oyster) - the challenge is that the earlier we have the mapbooks ready for promotion, the earlier the registration will have to be.
  • Ron (volunteer) - Promotional Graphics need to go out several weeks in advance. This year they were very late. The coordinator should delegate this task to someone else rather than taking it on herself, because she has too many other things that she needs to do before SOS.
  • Consuelo (Fashion) - We didn't see any posters in Davis.
  • Summary:
    • We should revisit mapstand locations. Have a meeting this winter. and possibly use more, or a variety of new and old stands. Individual artists might want to adopt some to put in front of their houses. For public spaces, we will need permits, so would need to settle on this early.
    • Need to do outreach to media, including print, radio, and television. Build up contact list, write press releases, develop media kits. Need volunteers and strategy.
    • Promotional graphics (and possibly posters) need to be created and released earlier. Maybe by a volunteer, rather than coordinator.

How do we promote more volunteerism?

  • Ron (Volunteer) - we only had one meeting
  • Ellie (Mad Oyster) - Attendance was very low
  • Dave (home) - maybe committees to draw people out?
  • Ellie (Mad Oyster) - We regularly send emails to all 1600 people
  • Matt C (Central St) - I wonder how many on that list really know how the event is run, and how it's a nonprofit and stands on the work of volunteers?
  • David (home) - from my perspective, until this year I just sent in my check and these mapbooks appeared. It needs some demystifying.
  • Ron - we didn't make effective use of the Volunteer Form on the SOS website ( This needs to be populated with tasks, dates, and team leads several months in advance. Ellie did not know the form existed. Rachel and Emily used it extensively in 2013 and 2014.
  • Jane (Vernon st) - A sense of ownership is very important.
  • Consuelo (fashion) - We should give an official sticker you get for participating, so people can show they are officially part of SOS, and display how many years they've been doing it.
  • Pat (home) - Maybe when you register, you get an email reminding you it's a volunteer group and invitation to volunteer yourself.
  • Hilary (home) - In the past, we used to stuff envelopes. We did a mailing to the whole list, with everything on it. We could a mailer with a sticker and decoder ring, membership card, etc
  • Ellie (mad oyster) - Yes, emails got lost - not always effective. A real snail mail might be good.
  • Matt C (Central St) - We could send a mailer, and make an event out of the mailing.
  • Ellie (mad oyster) - and stuffing a few hundred envelopes isn't such a big deal.
  • Jane (Vernon) - it's a party to work together.
  • Ron (Volunteer) - let's develop the web form. Maybe in January.
  • Dave (home) - could insert volunteering form in registration?
  • Hilary (home) - that might already be there for new members, but returning members can bypass it?
  • Nancy (mad oyster) - We could use or something could help to choose your shift. Nave gallery and dogfest use it.
  • Summary: We need more volunteers! Need to work on demystifying SOS, and make it clear that it rises and falls on volunteers. Also, volunteering is fun and good way to gain experiences and skills.
    • Work on the volunteer form on the website, and integrate that into membership process somehow?
    • Mailing the membership with info could catch people's attention, make the group seem more real, and pull people in - and be a fun opportunity for volunteering. Also could convey or provide a sticker to give sense of ownership and legitimacy.
    • More volunteer meetings

What would help you notice networking events?

  • Heather (Central st) - groups like "social fun" or "Nerd fun" are good for socializing and connecting. Urban sketchers group
  • Kolika (workbar/board) - Paintnight, etc could be fun. Focus on things in Somerville. Gather here, in Inman.
  • Ellie (mad oyster) - Yes, like Plantnight. Muse in assembly.
  • Consuelo (fashion) - Share on facebook that you registered
  • Summary: There are fun art-related activity groups in Somerville we could partner with for networking.

Fashion show

  • Ron (volunteer) - the fashion show went really well! The turnout was great.
  • Consuelo (fashion) - we tried to work with the high school, and that comes with challenges. We did not work with fashion students, because they closed the clothing program at the high school, so we didn't work with them again.
  • Ron (volunteer) - we should try to work with the Prospect Hill Academy charter school.
  • Ron (volunteer) - We didn't participate in Artweek. Sometimes we enter the fashion show in that. One more thing for the list.
  • Summary: Fashion show went really well! How do we repeat this success? What can we learn from it? And are we effectively using high school and other volunteer communities?

Board and summary comments?

  • Hilary (home) - we need more volunteers. We need to use our lists more effectively. We can't do it alone. Can't get complacent.
  • Peter (Vernon) - We need to have more work meetings - increasingly the work is happening through the board. Let's have more meetings focused on tasks.
  • Matt (volunteer) - I think we can bring in more volunteers if we offer fun stuff to bring people in, maybe across the summer - like a hike in the fells, a beach trip (revere), summer barbeque, etc. Nothing fancy. Lots of artists are craving community, and once they meet more artists, they'll want to get involved and maybe pick up some skills by volunteering. Postcard from the volunteer shot. So, let's try to do one fun thing a month, and see if we can use that to build up some targeted volunteer sessions in the fall and winter ("learn to write a press release night" at the diesel, etc).
  • Nancy (Mad Oyster) - The problem with our "last Wednesday" program was not a lack of interest. Everyone wants to go, but we had trouble finding hosts. Also, volunteering is good way to learn skills and make friends.
  • Matt (volunteer) - tshirts are good, fun publicity. We should make them again.
  • Ellie (Mad oyster) - mugs are coming! And head shots from the volunteer show.
  • Nancy (mad oyster) - we should share these notes!
  • Summary: we really need to work on communicating the centrality of volunteering to SOS, and to SOS's future. Volunteering is fun, community-building and skill-building, but it's also essential to getting the work of SOS done. Without it, we will have a serious problem.