Running a Live Art Event During the Pandemic

by Carolyn Edlund

Artists are selling their work at in-person events again, despite the pandemic. Two event organizers share how they made this happen while keeping safety in mind.

 

Artists working in sculpture studio

Barbara Liss Studio is a stop along the tour in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana

 

After months of shutdown forced by the spread of COVID, art events are cautiously reopening to allow artists to display and sell their work to a waiting public. Two art leaders, in Montana and Florida, organized and held recent in-person sales.

Montana Studio Artists Tour

The 12th annual Artists Along the Bitterroot Studio Tour, originally scheduled for June, was postponed until fall. The Tour is held in a rural county that had experienced only four cases of COVID, so there was a high comfort level with in-person events in the community at large. Still, it was only promoted in two counties in order to keep attendance manageable.

Sculptor Barbara Liss, owner of Montana Bliss Artworks in Hamilton, MT and an arts leader involved in producing local live events, worked with others on the local Downtown Association to proceed in a modified way. The three-day tour included 17 art studios located over a 35-mile route. It was rescheduled for September to take advantage of warmer weather. Studio access was limited to only a few people at a time, so outdoor displays and artist demonstrations were held for the enjoyment of those waiting in line.

The Studio Tour planners gained additional publicity for their event by collaborating with the Bitterroot Builders Tour of Homes, a paid event running on the same weekend. The work of participating artists was displayed in the builder’s homes. This in turn offered a preview of the Studio Tour, which was free to attend.

A survey of participating artists indicated that most were very happy with their results. Going forward, they want to keep events scheduled during warm weather to allow for open doors.

 

Masked artist in her gallery space

Artist Brenda McMahon wears a mask as she invites visitors to her Gulfport, Florida gallery

 

Florida Community Art Walk

In early October 2020, the First Friday Gallery & Art Walk resumed it’s monthly schedule in Gulfport, Florida with artist tents spaced widely along scenic Beach Boulevard. Artist and gallery owner Brenda McMahon was instrumental to helping this traditional event take place after being cancelled earlier in the pandemic.

The reemergence of the Art Walk was contingent upon recent COVID numbers, deemed to be well below levels of concern in Pinellas County. The official go-ahead was given by the Gulfport City Council, with the understanding if the numbers spiked last minute, it would be shut down.

As the chair of the Arts Committee on the Gulfport Merchants Chamber, McMahon worked closely with the city to ensure that all necessary safety precautions were put in place. These included mandatory masks for participants, most of whom took extra measures to ensure that spaces were hygienic and shoppers were protected. Mask use was suggested for the public, and free masks were handed out by volunteers during the event.

The Art Walk was well-attended, with outdoor art exhibits, live music, restaurants and local shops doing a booming business.  McMahon felt confident about the thorough way in which the event was approached, the great help of volunteers, and the accommodations of visitors who respected the town’s decision to stay masked and social distance.

She said, “I am thrilled to help my friends and colleagues get back out there, share their art and make money. When we work together, we all rise together…. and then we are exponentially greater than the sum of our parts.”

 

 

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Comments

  1. Sheila Grillo says

    How do I display. my art with Artsyshark. What do i need to do? I would like to know everything involved..
    Thank You!

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