Friday, 1 July 2011

Business helps Volunteers in Hull

A little over a month ago we published an article about a personal project of mine, Hull Art, which aims to offer exposure and support to artist communities in our home city. I mentioned there how the not-for-profit venture had recently moved into the real world, by opening a gallery in premises donated by a local business and how we hoped to find further support from others.

This week, I though I'd offer an update on how things are going. Again, thank you to eskimosoup for their support in giving me the opportunity to write about the project, to showcase the Private and Third sectors working together for Social good in our local area.

The first thing to say, is that the gallery is still up and running. Our landlords, Artyfax Commercial Printers, had originally been generous enough to offer the empty unit free of charge, but only for two weeks. This deadline has now been extended for at least a month or two, thanks in main to the great reaction we've had, which is really building momentum.

We started with a virtually empty shop space, but almost immediately had artists through the doors, encouraged by our facebook page, and it soon started to fill up with their work. Their gratitude and appreciation for us staffing the place voluntarily and taking no commission has already made it worthwhile.

There's also been artists and others drop in while passing by, with no knowledge of our two year old online community. This has been a primary aim of having a real world presence, to raise awareness and we've seen the results with numbers increasing on the facebook page. We've posted news there on the coming and goings in the gallery and updates on developments, which in turn, has brought people back in to see us.

Extending our marketing beyond facebook and the web has presented a problem though. A lot of online marketing can be done for no cost, though unless you know what you're doing, the results may fall short what's possible. That's why it's always a good idea to employ a marketing professional, but in our case, we already had me, so that cost is eliminated.

But offline, costs are often unavoidable, with such things as the production of leaflets and posters needing paying for. With no income, how could we do this?

Well, we had our first 2,000 leaflets handed out this week, so how have we managed that? Basically, through sponsorship. The printer and distributor both included adverts for themselves on the leaflet, in exchange for their work. This wouldn't quite cover it though, so yet more generosity and support for what we're doing from them took care of the rest.

Looking around us to the other businesses in our immediate area for more sponsorship may be the next step. These are small shops who would appreciate the footfall. Beverley Road where we're based, doesn't have a great deal of these and it's fair to say it's a pretty run down area. Certainly not where you would expect to find an art gallery.

It's more by accident than design that we're at this location, but since we are, it's increasingly becoming a large element of the project. Beverley Road is the main road through Hull and the wonderful architecture there is testament to it's vibrant and affluent past. Those days are long gone though and it's now just a route into the town centre, rather than a destination in itself.

Next week, we'll look at how the project is growing beyond it's original remit of helping local artist communities, and also becoming about how we can make a significant contribution to Beverley Road's regeneration.

If you're a local business owner and would like to see how you can get involved in Hull Art, please email'. Thank you.

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