The downtown artwalk: Measure your event for better outcomes

Many communities conduct monthly or seasonal art walks. The events can create an evening vibrancy downtown, encouraging foot traffic. But in even the most successful events there are still opportunities to broaden the reach and impact.

This season, consider working with your partners to tie an outcome measure or two to your event as a way to challenge it to do more.  Measuring an indicator on a regular basis might spark ideas for boosting attendance and outcomes:

What percentage of Main Street merchants are open for the event? 
What is the average number of visitors in the shops and venues?
What are the cumulative retail sales for the evening? (Including food and beverage)
How many new customers did merchants report?
What percentage of storefronts (occupied or not) have some relation to the event?
How many willing artists have unplaced work?
How many willing storefronts/venues have no art?
How many local civic/student/community groups are involved?
How many nonprofits got involved?

More merchants and offices on Main Street might get involved with a little help–and some ideas from you.  Create strategies to boost performance in your measure area.

Help service and retail shops connect with artists relevant to what they do, or to link their service to the event in some visual way.  For instance a shoe repair shop might host and artist who paints shoes, or create their own found-art sculpture of shoes and socks. Encourage a civic club to do the walk together as a social outing.

In Marion, consignment shop Kim’s Klassy Closet, Inc. got involved by enlisting customers to wear some of the store’s clothes in the display window during the Alive after 5: Downtown Marion Second Fridays Art Walk.  One of the newest businesses in Downtown Marion, the Klassy Kloset is already staying open late on this one night of the month and serving refreshments to art walkers, and building community around Main Street. 

How is your community making your art walk better this year?  Share the ideas at work in your downtown art walks by sending them to douglas.jackson@dhcd.virginia.gov.

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