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Advice from past grant recipients

These tips were shared by 2018 grantees in their final grant report. These tips reflect the opinion and perspective of each grantee. Be sure to consult the grant program guidelines and criteria for official rules and requirements.

If you’re a returning applicant, it helps the panel to know what lessons you learned from previous years that you are incorporating into your new application.

Scheduling and rescheduling

Metamora and Whitewater Canal: I would recommend for future performers and grant participants that they schedule their event mid-day on weekends, as the visitors to the Canal and Metamora tend to leave after the business there shut down at 5:00 PM. Also, the Benjamin Franklin, the large canal flatboat that attracts crowds and was discussed as a potential performance venue was in dry dock for repairs. That may change by next year's grant cycle. (Tom Roznowski, projects at Metamora and Whitewater Canal State Historic Site)

Flexibility is the key with the weather. Be ready to change plans and go with it. Have a back-up plan in place and let the parks know your plan so they can also let visitors know. Coordinating art activates with large events at the sites was important to the success of my demonstrations and drawing crowds to the park. (Patricia Rhoden Bartels)

I did two demos at both events. Most people who attended specifically for the demo left at the end of the first demo.  So the second demo seemed to not be as effective as the first. Also, the people at the beach seemed to tend to start to pack up around 3:00 p.m.(the events ran 1:00-4:00 p.m.).  I got a lot of feedback that the visitors wanted to try plein air painting for themselves. Children, in particular, want to try their hand at painting. I will provide the tools and materials for visitors to try plein air painting for themselves. I think this will provide an even richer, fully rounded, experience for visitors. The time change for the events will better serve visitors.  Providing visitors the opportunity to dig into the paint themselves will create an inspiring, direct, experiential experience. The public will have a better understanding and appreciation for the challenges of plein air panting. (Charlene Marsh. projects at Monroe Lake and Starve Hollow SRA)

One thing I learned from this is that doing an outdoor printing project on one of the hottest weekends of the summer is not a good idea.  We were so hot that we had to keep taking breaks to replenish our electrolytes. I also learned that being closer to the lake and the pool works better than being in a shelter house, even though it was close to the bike trails. (Stephanie Robertson, project at Versailles State Park)

Evaluation

I had sign-in sheets that I paid a naturalist to attend to. But there were very few people who actually signed. I had some hand out questionnaires but, they were also largely ignored. To me the most obvious and exciting way to evaluate the success of my demonstrations was the happy faces of the children who proudly shared their creations with their parents. All of the children who began a painting finished one. Now that is SUCCESS! (Patricia Rhoden Bartels, projects at Brown County State Park and TC Steele State Historic Site)

Lessons learned was the definite need to have more assistants responsible for the surveys, taking photos/videos. I can't and shouldn't do this alone.  (Nicole Williams, project at Potato Creek State Park)

Marketing

Youth enjoyed the opportunity to see an artist at work and were drawn to the events through a dissemination of information to schools, particularly the Brown County system where I taught art for 30 years. News releases to newspapers across the state, our local CVB and radio stations who announced a local calendar of events were very successful in getting the word out. People indicated that my news releases proved to be very successful.  Attendees indicated they had seen the announcement of my events in the paper, on the state Park site and the TC Steele web site. Both the State Park and TC Steele did a great Job promoting my demonstrations. This was due to a coordinated effort with lots of planning during the winter months. I also met folks who had traveled quite a distance to see me paint because they were familiar with my painting. (Patricia Rhoden Bartels, projects at Brown County State Park and TC Steele State Historic Site)

My Facebook page generated 220 Likes about the two events.  I don't seem to get much traction on my business Facebook page, so the results are never as good as I would like to see.  From what I have learned, unless one is purchasing Facebook ads and boosts, it is hard to get much traffic on a business page.  And I have heard from other artists that even paid ads are not particularly effective. (Charlene Marsh. projects at Monroe Lake and Starve Hollow SRA)

Sharing the demonstration/"make and take" events on social media led to an invitation to participate in an Art with Heart event for first and second grade students at school #70 in Indianapolis. Seeing so many children engage and learn was very rewarding. (Amy Greely, project at Brown County State Park)

One lesson that we learned is the need to collaborate even more effectively with the mansions to promote the concert. The Lanier mansion concert was full to capacity with standing room only in their great parlor, and staff had done extensive marketing and promoting for the concert in the small, tight knit community of Madison, IN. The audience at Culbertson was smaller, but very enthusiastic. Efforts will be made to utilize our contacts in Louisville to attract a larger audience if we are awarded another Arts in the Parks and Historic Sites grant this year. We have an excellent rapport and working relationship with the staff at the mansion and there is a strong desire to attract a larger audience. (Le Ordinaires, projects at Culbertson Mansion State Historic Site and Lanier Mansion State Historic Site)

I was made aware that I need to have better signage pointing the way to each program in the future. Poor signage may have resulted in fewer people attending. I will invest in some "garage sale" type signs to advertise next time. (Dani Tippman, projects at Ouabache State Park, Chain O’Lakes State Park and Salamonie Lake)

I will be intentional about publicizing the event to other organizations, i.e. Shelter for the Homeless, YWCA, Youth Services Bureau. (Nicole Williams, project at Potato Creek State Park)

This year, we implemented a new online registration system that gave me, the organizer and artist, more freedom and power to register our participants. Using Eventbrite, we were able to more quickly and smoothly register new participants and see the class list in real-time. I'll definitely be using this website again! (Kristina Knowski, Indiana Dunes State Park)

I will use Eventbrite for next year to help track those who will attend, send reminder emails, etc. (Nicole Williams, Potato Creek State Park)

Assistants

I also brought another artist with me to assist, and that was a brilliant idea because she was able to help facilitate, take photos and set up and clean up. That was an immense help and I could not have done this without her assistance. (Stephanie Robertson, project at Versailles State Park)

I learned I need to have more assistants responsible for the surveys, taking photos/videos. I can't and shouldn't do this alone.  (Nicole Williams, project at Potato Creek State Park)