Guest post: Sue Grayson Ford explains how to take part in The Big Draw

If you enjoyed running an event for the Museums at Night festival, your organisation may like to be part of another national festival as well! Today’s guest post comes from Sue Grayson Ford, Director of the Campaign for Drawing, who explains what The Big Draw is all about and how you can get involved.


The Big Draw: the largest drawing festival anywhere!

Starting life as a one-day event, The Big Draw is now in its 14th year and lasts throughout the month of October. It involves all of the UK and 15 other countries so far, and every year some 200,000 people of all ages participate. This makes it the largest drawing festival anywhere, yet it is run by just three people – who reach exhaustion every 31 October!

A blurred image of a group of people drawing on walls covered with white paper

Why we do it

The Campaign for Drawing is fuelled by the belief that everyone can draw, and that drawing helps us think, invent and communicate.  It is the most effective and economical interactive tool for learning in galleries, museums, heritage sites and elsewhere.  Drawing animates museums, opens gallery doors, reaches out to new audiences and changes lives.

The best drawing activities are simple, relevant to their environment, connect to artefacts or current displays, and offer new ways to see and interpret.

How we help Big Draw event organisers

Our new mini-magazines are packed with event-planning and marketing suggestions, and help you find ideas for pushing boundaries, family friendly activities, working with young organisers and keeping it simple and easy.

young men holding up drawings

We offer CPD, free resources, publications and case studies of successful events to make drawing accessible.  And this works – I am constantly amazed by the imagination Big Draw organisers use to overcome all barriers, and to engage the least likely suspects.

We also promote The Big Draw through press, digital marketing, FacebookTwitterPinterest and The Big Draw Blog.

Creative event ideas

As a lifelong football fan, I was excited when the Colchester gallery Firstsite partnered with Colchester United for The Big Draw, to show supporters how drawing is used to plan and analyse the game. The junior squad demonstrated the artistry of passing the ball with tape glued to their footballs, while match programmes were printed with a blank page for spectators to sketch impressions. 

At London’s Zabludowicz Collection, workshop participants were inspired by flamboyant dancers and improvised music.  By focusing on rhythm, movement, enjoyment and experiment – rather than finished artwork – drawing came easily.

A hula-hoop dancer performing in a gallery

A hula-hoop dancer inspiring artists at a drawing workshop (c) Campaign for Drawing

At the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, one million colour-selected adhesive spots were laid on transparent plastic on the gallery windows, creating 3-D illusions of atoms forming functionalised molecules, such as crystalline structures and graphene.  Nobel Prize-winner Kostya Novoselov, who actually discovered grapheme, brought his young family to join in the fun!

Two toddlers covering a window with colourful spotty stickers

Children joining the dots at Manchester Art Gallery (c) Campaign for Drawing

Science and technology can also connect people with their hidden creativity: at Tate Liverpool, artist Tony Hall encouraged families to construct ‘brush bots’ – tiny robots which drew as they moved.

Rewarding organisers

All these events received Drawing Inspiration Awards, which reward twelve organisers of each year’s most innovative Big Draws with up to £1000 each.

Draw Tomorrow in 2013

Who knows what our suggested 2013 theme Draw Tomorrow will bring?  The Elgar Birthplace Museum will invite visitors to draw musical instruments for 3013; Manchester Museum will create a rainforest of the future, and young visitors at the V&A Museum of Childhood will art-direct top Central Illustration Agency artists.

A father and daughter drawing on the floor of a gallery

Sign up NOW!

Register your event  here by 1 September for inclusion in our press campaign, and help us demonstrate the power of drawing to connect and engage audiences.

If you’d like more information we’re here to help: please contact, or call 020 8351 1719.


A woman in the sunshineSue Grayson Ford is Director of the Campaign for Drawing. She says:

My proudest previous achievements were founding the Serpentine Gallery (aged 22), running the Wakefield Centenary Festival, putting sculpture into the first International Liverpool Garden Festival and public art into Cardiff Bay, directing the Photographers’ Gallery, and chairing engage.

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