The Association for Visual Artists’ Gallery Hop almost didn’t happen this year. Tight staffing and budget woes led AVA to pull the plug, but an appeal from an artist led to a new approach that AVA hopes will be sustainable for the long run.
“It was getting to be too much for our small staff,” explained AVA Executive Director Anne Willson. “You’d think with our experience doing 4 Bridges, it would be easy to carry out a smaller event, but we have so much volunteer support around 4 Bridges. Gallery Hop was just too big for us. AVA did everything for everybody, and it was overwhelming. It wasn’t sustainable. We were going to let it go.”
But after the decision was made to drop the Hop, Willson said local artist Miki Boni called and asked what she and other local galleries could do to save the Hop.
“Miki sat down with us and convinced us how much it meant to everyone,” Willson said. “So we asked how can we do it as a collective.”
This year Gallery Hop has been reconfigured as a collaborative between AVA and participating galleries and artist studios.
“The spirit of it feels different,” said Willson. “For the first time ever, we had a big meeting with all the galleries. We set up as many chairs as we could and were crowded in the AVA main gallery. That has never happened before.”
The result of the brainstorming meeting was two-fold. The set up is the same: 15-20 galleries, but rather than AVA carrying the entire administrative workload, galleries and studios will pitch in by printing and distributing Gallery Hop maps and hanging posters around town. Boni helped out with graphic design of the poster map.
Perhaps more importantly, though, asking for input from participating galleries and studios brought out some new ideas to make Gallery Hop more attractive. This year, “hoppers” will have bigger incentives to visit more galleries. Everyone who visits at least ten galleries will be entered into a drawing. The grand prize is an “Instant Art Collection,” consisting of one artwork donated by every participating gallery. Second prize is an overnight stay for two at Boni’s Artist’s Gallery Residence. Third prize is 10 free passes to the 2013 4 Bridges Arts Festival.
Because the Gallery Hop map will be available year round—at galleries and online at avagalleryhop.com—Willson hopes it will help promote galleries long after the Hop is over.
“This shift had to happen, but some good things are coming in around it. It turned out to be a gift,” said Willson.
The reconfigured AVA Gallery Hop will take place from 2-8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. For more information, visit avagalleryhop.com.
Gallery Hop 2012
• Art at the INCubator
• Area 61
• Gallery 1401
• Gallery 301
• Gannon Art Center
• H*ART Gallery
• Ignis Glass Studio & Gallery
• In-Town Gallery
• Shuptrine’s Gold Leaf Designs
• Tanner Hill Gallery
• UTC Cress Gallery of Art
• Winder Binder Gallery & Bookstore
• Yada Yada
• Ashley Hamilton Studio
• Miki Boni Studio
• SweetCycle Apparel