Connect10 competition tips from artists and venues

These presentations were delivered at our Museums at Night briefing sessions by venues who took part in the 2013 Connect10 competition and successfully won the artist they pitched for, and one of the Connect10 artists who shared an alternative perspective on taking part in the competition.

We asked venues and artists to discuss their experiences, what they learned along the way, and their recommendations for other organisations thinking of pitching for a Connect10 artist to lead their Museums at Night 2014 event.

Matthew Chesney, founder and director of BACKLIT in Nottingham, broke down how his team successfully campaigned for public votes in the Connect10 competition to “bring back” local artist Mat Collishaw. With only minimal resources, BACKLIT reached out to their local audiences online using social media – for example, this 1-minute video:

Matthew also explained the success of their Museums at Night event with Mat, and what the legacy has been for the organisation as a whole.

Paul Homer from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings created this presentation to demonstrate the excitement of bringing Connect10 artist Jake Chapman into his venue. They staged two separate events, one for adults and one aimed at children, both inviting visitors to get down on the gallery floor and draw “Exquisite Corpses” in a giant game of Consequences.

Here’s one final tip from a large venue that successfully secured a Connect10 artist, but wasn’t able to confirm exactly what they’d be doing in time to write a detailed description in their marketing materials. A priority for this venue was to offer visitors reasons to explore all their rooms during the event, and stay for longer:

My best advice for anyone who ends up in a similar situation to us is to plan a range of small events or activities throughout the evening, so the sole emphasis isn’t on the artist and what they may or not be doing.

Sculptor Julian Wild was one of the artists who participated in the 2013 Connect10 competition. He explained the background to his work and gave examples of the structures, objects and materials that inspire him. Through pictures, he demonstrated how he responded to the venue which won him to lead their Museums at Night event – Enginuity, the science museum at Ironbridge Gorge.

A man and two children constructing an enormous sculpture from white plastic pipes

Julian Wild helping children to create the “Making the Connection” sculpture out of half a kilometre of glow-in-the-dark piping (c) Enginuity

He showed pictures of each stage of the creation of the vast, luminous “Making the Connection” sculpture and told us how families got involved with the construction process.

Traci Dix-Williams, Director of Operations at Enginuity in Ironbridge Gorge, gave this presentation explaining the venue’s perspective on how she and her team successfully entered the Connect10 competition, and won Julian Wild to lead their participatory Museums at Night event.

She shared the possibilities and challenges presented by their space, staffing and resource levels; how they built on Julian’s previous work to make this luminous participatory sculpture as part of their Museums at Night event; and the effects that the project had on her team.

Photographer Simon Roberts participated in the 2012 Connect10 competition when he worked with Salford’s Working Class Movement Library. He shared his experiences and recommendations at the Cardiff briefing session:

  • Once you win an artist, their site visit to your venue will make a big difference to your event planning! The sooner you arrange this the better: introduce them to your collections and be open to the possibility that your original event idea may change completely in response.
  • Budget carefully.
  • Be creative, but have realistic expectations of what can be achieved in the time available, and what the artist will be able to do.
  • This is a collaboration – the artist is giving up their time, so make sure that the event you devise together is a mutually beneficial experience and takes into account their background, current projects and interests.
  • Marketing and publicity are very important. Make the most of this opportunity to raise your profile locally and reach new potential visitors. Capture quotes, photos and email addresses from your visitors – this event can be the first step towards a long term relationship with a different audience.
  • Consider the legacy of your artist-led event: what new skills, artwork, or resources will your organisation end up with?

One response to “Connect10 competition tips from artists and venues

  1. Pingback: Can a small venue take part in the Connect10 competition? | Museums at Night Blog