Friday, 3 June 2011

Can your Business help Volunteers in Hull?

It's National Volunteers Week, and with it also being the European Year of Volunteering, not to mention the recent fourth launch of the Big Society by Government, which has volunteering at it's core, the Public are very much being encouraged to give some hours back to their local area.

Charities, Social Enterprises and Community Groups are often the way to go for people who want to volunteer. With the Big Society agenda of decentralisation and localism, these are taking responsibility for more and more local services, from running libraries and leisure centres to providing for the NHS.

Personally, I've been volunteering for about two years, since eskimosoup let me take time to pursue more charitable work. As I've mentioned before on the blog, part of what I decided to do with this was to use my expertise in Social Media to help promote art in our home city of Hull.

I started, which is actually based around a facebook page, and now showcases over 4,000 pieces of art by more than 150 artists born or living in Hull with upwards of 30,000 post views a month. It's completely free to display work and no commission is taken on any sales.

Over 1,300 people subscribe to the page and offer great feedback to professional and amateur artists, many of whom have never had the chance to display their work before. Working with local creative organisations and the Arts Unit at the City Council, Hull Art also provides a platform by which to raise awareness about events and what's going on with art in the area.

So, all very good for a few hours sat in front of a computer each week and I can certainly say that volunteering in this way does offer many rewards apart from the usual financial motivations. I've had so much appreciation for my efforts from the artists involved and there does seem to be a general consensus that it's been great for the city.

But it is still solely online and with the art events and pieces of work being very much in the real world, venturing there could do so much more. Happily, this week we've been given that opportunity.

As Hull Art makes no profit, with the usual income of commissions being absent, taking it into the real world has been a difficult prospect. Being based on facebook has allowed us to determine that there is in fact interest and demand in Hull for what we offer, and it's provided a means by which to build on that, create a buzz around the concept and cultivate a vibrant community. All things that would be a great advantage in opening a premises, but without money, how do we hope to do that?

Taking the lead from the Big Society encouraging business to take more of a role in the good of the country, we looked to small businesses in Hull. We found Artyfax, a small commercial printer, who happened to have a spare shop next door to theirs, which they very kindly donated to us for two weeks. As promotion with the local media is very much on the agenda, we can hopefully return this kindness with some positive PR for Artyfax.

The marketing activities of big business at the moment are all about what they give back to society, with the Great Swapathon at the start of the year being a great example, involving numerous companies such as Coca Cola and McDonalds. I can certainly foresee more small businesses following that example and we'll see if it pays off for Artyfax. Either way, we're very grateful and they've been very kind.

That's not to mention eskimosoup, who have allowed me to write this blog about the project. There's obviously relevance with the aspects of Social Media and 'marketing for good', but it's still very much appreciated. Thank you guys!

The Hull Art gallery has been going great guns in the four days since it opened, with new artists bringing their work in every day and a lot of excitement building around the venture. We've had a good number of people volunteer to staff the gallery and making contributions with things we need, such as coffee and biscuits and yes, it does all feel very Big Society.

It's also been a great example of a facebook page working with a real world establishment, as we've been regularly updating the page on what's new in the shop and our visitors have responded to that when they come in. If they're not actually familiar with the page, seeing our logo on the shop front or coming in to talk with us has introduced them and increased awareness and uptake on the page.

As we go into our second week, we're now looking to bring other local businesses on board. Whether supporting their local artists by decking out their premises with some original artwork or if we're really lucky, offering us space they may have spare, we're hoping they'll appreciate just what a positive thing it is that we're doing and jump at the chance to get involved.

If you're interested or know anyone who might be please contact me at '' or pop in to our gallery on Beverley Road (opposite NETTO). Again, massive thanks to Artyfax, eskimosoup and everyone who's helped out so far. For more information and to see how we're getting on, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment