Art shows are a sure sign that school is nearing the end of the year and the visual representation of your students hard work is about to be realized.
Whether you are a one-person organizer or have a team of volunteers, here are a few systems that helped me make my art shows manageable.
Asking for help…
I’ve been so very fortunate to have a slew of involved parents at many of the schools I have worked at. This is especially helpful during the art show season. There is not school that has a surplus of anything, especially available parents, but most schools can drum up volunteers if given the chance.
I come from a PTA background. I’m proud to say that I was a PTA President and a board members for years at my children’s school. Did I have surplus time on my hands? Yes. But there were many other dedicated parents who had very busy professional and home lives that found time to volunteer. Did we always have enough volunteers for back-to-school bar-b-que’s, school auctions and jog-a-thons?
Not really, but we always squeaked by,
The point is, is that even with one helper, you can do it!
Watch my video below on everything you need to prep for a school art show!
Download the Art Show Checklist below and get prepared for art show season!
The secret to asking for help is building up the reputation of the program that needs support.
If the art show at your school has always been organized and managed by the art teacher, then finding volunteers to help that first year is going to be challenging (but not impossible).
Try asking a parent with whom you have a strong rapport. Ask for a small amount of help and be super organized with their time. Their experience might be a positive one, and they will then ask someone else for help. Soon, you’ll have a reputation that you can build on.
On the same note, if you are fortunate to have one person donate their time for a few hours, stick to their agenda. In other words, don’t abuse the volunteer.
Give very specific volunteer instructions
I have a handout that I give to the classroom teachers on the suggested way to mount artwork. I like to stage a day when volunteers can come and go as they need to.
I reserve the multi-purpose room for the day. This is not always easy, so check with the office manager for help in reserving time to mount artwork. Sometimes you need to be flexible. If everything is set out and easy to understand, volunteers can pop in for an hour to contribute.
Organizing supplies and basic set-up directions
I measure the length of my papers and prepare an easy way to cut lengths of the paper in bulk.
TIME SAVING TIP: Place a piece of masking tape on the floor, measure the length of the paper and place another piece of masking tape at that measurement. Now all the volunteers have to do is roll the paper from one tape to the other and cut. No need to get out the measuring tape every time.
No Volunteers? Try Community Service
Does your school have community service hours for sixth graders? If so, utilize it! Sixth graders are extremely capable and can staple artwork and cut paper. Perhaps they can do it on their lunch break.
Tearing down and removing artwork is the ideal job for sixth graders. They can pull the panels off the walls, then remove stapled artwork from the paper with a stapler remover and deliver to the classrooms. If anything, have students help with dismantling.
As for the display panels? The multipurpose room added to the campus had no ceiling wires in which to hand student art. Now, we just have three walls and we’ve created cool looking displays on wheels.
These were pretty easy to make.
Each panel requires two 36″ x 80″ hollow, no-hole, pocket doors. Buy the primed ones so you don’t have to paint them. You can find them at your local Home Depot (around $40).
We used two metal hinges to allow for folding and four casters on the bottom of the panels so we could roll the panels around. The hinges allow for the panels to be folded and stored against a wall. Then we added a small chain at an angle (you decide) so that the panels would open up and fall.
We made 3 panels the first year and it cost me less than $200. Parents in subsequent years have made 3 more.
The panels are great for small display areas as they hold a lot of art and are great for set design in stage performances.
For the art display, I staple/tape art to a long sheet of paper (36″ wide) and attach the paper panels with two masking tape strips on the top. Surprising enough, this is all it takes!
Organizing an art show takes an extraordinary amount of work but with a little organization, a plan and a few helpers, you’ll be well on your way to creating an experience your students won’t soon forget.
I’d love to hear what went well and what didn’t in the comments below…
And of course, make sure to tag @deepspacesparkle with your art show pics on Instagram!