How to Host a Children’s Community Art Show in Your Town

by , posted on May 1st, 2012 in Art School, Arts & Crafts, Parties & Celebrations, Style


Remember the Art Show I put together? You guys asked for a post outlining how to host one of your own. You ask? You get! Here it is…

If You Find A Place to Host it, They Will Come

Find a space. Local coffee shops or cafes are a good place to start. You may want to ask a restaurant too. Try indie places first. They’re typically easier to deal with than corporate. Also, many independent proprietors already have a deep sense of community and are looking for inventive ways to grow their roots.

Something to keep in mind as you’re scouting locations, you’ll need good wall space and room for patrons to walk around.

Watch the video:

Classic Play Kids Art Show from Dave K Cooper on Vimeo.

It’s All About the Timing

Schedule a time for the show. Keep in mind many parents are shuttling kids to and fro on the weekends. Organized kid sports are huuuuge in my area. So I had to keep that in mind, which meant no Saturday morning or afternoon. Oh, and avoid school nights if you can. One of the last things a parent wants to do after a long day at work is rush home to rush right back out again, only to rush back home to make a weeknight bedtime.

For our show, my friend suggested doing it on a Friday evening. Bingo! You may want to ask if you can arrange for the shop to stay open later or on a day when they’re not typically busy. First, you’ll want the space and second you can bring in more business for them. But be sensitive because some folks can’t afford to pay staff to stick around past normal operating hours.

To Sell or Not to Sell?

When your putting together the collection, decide on whether or not you’ll offer pieces for sale. We didn’t sell any pieces, at the request of our artists. Plus, I didn’t want the responsibility of collecting money this first time around. But that didn’t keep folks from asking if they could purchase work.

Which got us thinking…

Next time we do this, we’ll look into raising money to fund an arts camp/project, or playground in our area.

As for you? Well, you’ll know your town best and what the kids in it need. For some communities, it’s a playground. For others, it’s an after school program. In some places, it may be for an artist in residence program at the school.

Art Procurement

I contacted art teachers at schools to see if they wanted to participate. That part was easy. Most art teachers love getting their students’ work seen. I gave them a maximum size for the pieces and that was it. I didn’t go into the show thinking of a theme other than celebrating kids’ art. However, you could develop one and put out a call for submissions among your friends and those in your community.

Just be prepared to have a cut off limit and a set deadline, or else you may end up taking on more than you can handle.

Rally the Troops

You’re going to need help. I happen to have some amazingly incredible-awesome-super-fantastic friends who helped me hang art and put together a hands-on project for the kids to do at the opening. Artist Jen Menkhaus, who you may remember made the flower I wore in my Apartment Therapy/Cottonelle interview, came up with an easy and exceptionally clever craft—kids made flowers out of pipe cleaners and planted them in a little community container garden. Genius!

Put a Frame On It

One of the things I did to unify the look of the show and make it feel more like a gallery was to frame the art work. I even put together a little DIY for you. Click here for the tutorial.

I purchased foam board from Uline and paint pens from a local craft shop. You can get foam board at most craft shops, but it was cheaper to get it from Uline in the quantity I needed. After tallying the receipts, I spent about $100. If you’re short on cash, get some friends to chip in or find a sponsor.

All in all, I’d say this little community outreach project WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT! And I can’t wait to try it again next year.

Planning on hosting a show in your town? Have any questions? Ask away and I’ll do my best to answer!

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5 Responses to “How to Host a Children’s Community Art Show in Your Town”

  1. Melanie Says:

    May 1st, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Jen, this is amazing! I’d love to do something like this sometime. I’m adding it to my Mighty Life List.

  2. Aliza Says:

    May 1st, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve been to Atwater’s twice since the opening, and can’t tell you how much I enjoy seeing all the kids’ art, including Leo’s!

  3. Joya Says:

    May 1st, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    With the added option to bid on art and donate to a charity reminds me of that neighborly idea I had while living in Chicago on our tiny street! I had thought of hosting one in my home, maybe I’ll finally do it?

    Jennifer Cooper Reply:

    Yes, you even wrote about it here!

  4. Hana Says:

    May 4th, 2012 at 4:18 am

    I just love your video – and I think it is such a fun idea to host a children’s art show! I’d love to try something like this one day – I bet the kids will be talking about it for ages!!

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