I recently received this message from fellow artist John Delaney concerning his frustrations with promoting art group shows and attracting people.

promote art group showsI belong to an up and coming Art group in my town and for the past year we have been having public art shows once a month. The problem we are having is that we are having a difficult time to get the public to come out to our shows.

The past couple of months we made our monthly show a charity show where we were collecting food and clothing for a local food bank/shelter. And along with collecting those items we (the artist) were offering to donate anywhere from 20 to 50% of sales of the art shown.

Now we promoted all shows on every social network online, flyers hung up around town in area's that have a high amount of public activity and even shared show info with local papers and radio. Our most recent show, which was on a Saturday from 1 to 8 pm, didn't have any visitors at all. I'm at a loss as to how to get the public to come out to our shows. With the new year coming up I would like to change this problem and I'm open to any ideas. Any help you can offer in advise I would greatly appreciate it. 


John is doing many of the right things to promote the shows – having a charity fundraiser, promoting online, distributing flyers, and sharing it with local radio stations and newspapers, but even then not having any visitors. In such cases, it may be necessary to take a more direct advertising approach to attract more people – and even considering creating a larger unique art event. Ask yourself these questions.

What type of audience are you looking for?
Where do these people normally spend their free time? (recreational activities, restaurants, etc.) This will help you determine where to place emphasis for promotions.
Put yourself in their shoes. What would it take for you to skip your routine activities and leave the comfort of your home to visit any event?

Here are a few promotional ideas that may help. If anyone has any other ideas, please share them below in the comments.


Ideas for attracting more people to a group art exhibition event

  1. email listBuild an email list. If your group continually holds art shows, you can build this list more each time you host an event. Have a guestbook and include an heading there for email addresses.

  2. Advertise your art show well beforehand and built momentum with your promotions toward the end. Send out a reminder email to your list a week before, and 1-2 days before the event.

  3. Pay attention to other major events, art shows, movie openings and concerts happening around the same time. It’s best to hold the exhibition on a weekend when there is nothing else going on.

  4. Brand your art group with a unique name and logo. Choose something that is simple and easily recognizable.

  5. art showLocation of art show. Ensure the location can be easily found, and has adequate parking. A location near a shopping center and restaurants may work better than something more secluded.

  6. Create a theme around specific group exhibitions. If the exhibition is a charity event, the theme can center around this idea. An idea would be to ask all participants to create at least one artwork based on the theme. Certain themes may work better than others and appeal to broader audiences, such as world peace, environmental issues, events in the news, etc.

  7. Ask all art group members to promote the group show at their Facebook, Twitter, and their own email lists. To make it simpler and more convenient, send them a sample Facebook post and email message.

  8. Advertise the art exhibition in local newspapers, community channels, and radio.

  9. Write a press release and submit it to newspapers, TV stations and radio.

  10. finger foods art showHave plenty of refreshments and advertise this fact in your flyers.

  11. Create flyers and include all information about the event, including all participants. Spread your flyers all around town – coffee shops, businesses, community bulletin boards, bookstores, art schools, and more. Place emphasis on places related to your intended audience.

  12. As for art schools, post your flyer there, and ask for volunteers who will help in setup, organization, etc. – all of which will give them great experience.

  13. Create your own Website!Try to get corporate sponsorship from local businesses, who will advertise for you, or donate refreshments, etc.,  in exchange for their logo appearing on flyers.

  14. Have live entertainment at the group exhibition (preferably at least one performer who is well known). Some examples may be poetry readings, musicians, actors, and other performers. Ask them to promote the show as well, and mention their name in your flyers.

    You may also consider having multiple performers throughout the day, which could create an art festival type atmosphere. Each art show participant can have their own space of time in between performances for a talk about their artwork.

    This could turn into a unique event, one which includes all facets of the arts.

    This may require having groups shows less often, but may just be the thing that brings lots of people out of their homes to see the group artwork show.

These are just a few ideas to help promote your art group show, and hopefully attract more people.

Feedback is encouraged for this post! If you have any ideas or experiences to share in this regard, please comment below.

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  1. I own a group art gallery in a small town in West Texas. Last September we held our first group art show and it was a big success. I had promoted the show nearly seven months in advance. I can say that there were things that I tried that did not work at all and things that I truly believe made the show a success. I studied our town (I just moved here a little over a year ago from a Houston, TX) I learned that nothing gets a crowd out in this town unless there is free stuff to giveaway. I spoke with our local museum director and asked for advice and joined a few non-profit boards and paid close attention to how they promoted their successful events. First I chose a theme for the show and gave the artists plenty of time to work on paintings just for the show. I promoted the show heavily on Facebook and made posters to put in local businesses. I also made sure to talk about the show to everyone I encountered leading up to September. I also have an email newsletter that I send out every month, this was also mentioned every time. The closer the date was approaching the more focused my advertising became. I rented a sign to be displayed on our street that gave time, date and other event info for a whole month. Our local newspaper also called me, having heard about the show, and published a full page article about our event in the Friday edition. I also paid for a radio ad to run for two weeks also prior to the show. In addition I approached local businesses to sponsor the show and instead of money I asked for door prizes. This gave them a logo on all the advertising and mention on the radio. Every flyer and ad said the same thing about the show, what would be there: free wine and beer, a raffle, contests, dj playing music and how many artists were to be in the show and contact info directing people to our website. A few days before the show I was getting emails and phone calls like crazy. I also opened the show to local artists not in the gallery and offered a temporary display space for a small fee only for that day. We sold nearly 70 percent of the paintings and more after the show since we kept it on display for the entire month. The biggest benefit from the show wasn't the sales it was the credibility we gained as a gallery for putting on quality shows. Our next big show is in April and I am doing exactly what I did on the last one, minus the mistakes.

  2. Thanks Castanon. It would be interesting to know what did NOT work well or the mistakes. I would rather learn through others.

  3. There was a Great Gallery in our town who had mostly Wildlife Art. They had small events at their shows such as Baby tigers from Busch Gardens or various wildlife to see and touch from the zoo programs at the local college. They asked the artists to show children how to draw a specific animal or bird. Parents are there with the kids and see the art. Percentages of sales go to wildlife preservation groups,etc. If you have a lot of floral paintings, include a florist to do a demo or a garden club to show their specimens. People want an event not just another Art Show. Food themes are always good have snacks from around the world, invite restaurants to pitch in and give them plenty of advertising.

  4. Yes, I'd like to hear a what not to do list please. How about for online gallery's call to artists!? Best way to promote a first time call to artist for an online exhibition?!

  5. Don't do it alone.

    Don't not know your public and who you are promoting.

    Don't be unprofessional, no matter the circumstances, at any event.

    Don't not network or have no way to network.

    Don't not promote your group.

    Don't make decisions for the group without knowing how it will affect the group and the purpose of why you are meeting in the first place.

    Don't take and accept counsel from others on group policy unless they are part of the group that makes these decisions.

    Don't not survey your group for what is needed and wanted.

    If you take group leadership over from someone else, DON'T change anything until you know what was successful and not successful. Continue to do the things successful and eliminate publicly things that don't.

    Don't not communicate clearly with the group.

    Hopefully this helps. These are mistakes I made from a group I ran that went down the tubes because I didn't follow these steps.


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