Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Forth Valley Open Studios- final preparations

(caption)Angie McLaren, '"Stop Ignoring Me"', Screenprinting, 8 May 2012. Photo: Ann Shaw. Angie, a lecturer at Forth Valley college, was among our group taking part in a screenprinting workshop organised by the Changing Room gallery, Stirling. Plans are well under way for these years Forth Valley Open Studios and publicity is beginning to kick in. Our local newspaper The Stirling Observer is featuring an artist a week in the run up to the event in June. I am very aware now of the need to tailor press coverage to different platforms. Gone are the days when you could have a scatter gun approach and send out information to newspapers and hope that some paper it a sympathetic reporter interested in the arts would give your event the oxygen of publicity. Now it’s the full works using social networks like Facebook and Twitter along with local freesheets. Once we would have turned our noses up at publicity in these papers but they now have an important role in the community especially as the big morning papers in Scotland – the Herald and Scotsman in our case rarely give coverage to events such as ours. The first year we did get some but that was because we had a novelty element. That’s no longer the case. We are now embedded as part of the cultural scene in the central belt of Scotland, and like other events, have to work hard to generate publicity for it. Because of the shortage of staff on local newspapers it is becoming relatively easy to get arts coverage providing you give them the copy and photos ready to go. What they don’t like is having to dig the stories out for themselves because they are up against such tight deadlines and very limited, not to mention inexperienced staff, most of whom will never have heard of the concept of Open Studios so it is a steep learning exercise for them. The easier we make their job the more likely we are to get publicity.