GOAL: PROMOTE AND MARKET THE DISTRICT
Effectively promoting events is not easy, particularly as online communications become more and more crowded and we are often faced with an overwhelming amount of information. By working together to promote the Spencer Arts District, the Board, organizations, artists, and arts supporters can work together to develop a cohesive message and create a known arts destination.
THE ARTS DISTRICT BRAND
Essential to supporting the efforts of every group involved in the Spencer Arts District is the creation of a strong visual identity or brand. Consistency between events, organizations, artists, and the marketing materials of each will both build name recognition for the District and create a link between events in Spencer to build an image of the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
A logo and brand will visually reflect the character of the district and will, over time, generate a positive response in the people who see it. The brand should lean on what makes Spencer unique, as it will provide a platform and visual identity to tell the story of Spencer through arts and culture.
- What makes my community unique?
- What are our visual icons – what do people see when they think of us?
- How does this tie into community’s goals for the future?
As part of the action plan, McClure has developed a preliminary brand for the Spencer Arts District. The inspiration for the logomark is defined below; further brand guidelines can be found in Appendix Q.
COORDINATION AMONG PARTICIPATING GROUPS
Key to the success of the district is an image of cohesiveness between existing organizations. Consider creating partner organization agreements that articulate the marketing expectations of each party, the Arts District and organization:
- Requirement of Arts District logo on event posters and marketing materials
- Inclusion of Arts District logo on the organization website
- Co-marketing expectations: pre-show announcements of upcoming events, partner organization posters and marketing materials distributed during events, etc.
- Wayfinding signage including each organization
- Inclusion of artist/organization events on a shared online calendar
- Physical marketing material distributed throughout the community listing events of all Arts District organizations
- Informing organizations of potential scheduling conflicts, encouraging scheduling activities to maximize audience for the district.
Public signage provides the opportunity to reinforce the identity of the Arts District and tie the physical assets of the District together. In addition, the creative feel of the logo and the corresponding signage acts as a form of public art, encouraging exploration between attractions.
Wayfinding signage takes several shapes, all of which can be phased in as funding permits. Consider including funding for public signage as an Iowa Great Places project.
Gateways: Gateway monuments signify the entrance to a district and are normally designed to introduce the feel of the district. In this case, a gateway sign doubling as a piece of public art could be installed near the Grand Avenue bridge or, depending on specifications, at the corner of Park Street and Grand Avenue.
Graphics: Creating window graphics or other small graphics for participating organizations and businesses will reinforce the connectivity of the district and drive cross-traffic to different businesses, both cultural-related and general businesses. Window clings in restaurants, for example, can signify promotions related to other Arts District events.
Boulevard and Temporary Banners: Banners can be a temporary measure, either in the absence of permanent signage or for upcoming events. Coordination with Main Street can provide for a year-round rotation of event banners, including both existing events such as the Grand Meander and new events sponsored by the Arts District. The same can be said for wraps, around utilities, vehicles, or installations in temporarily vacant storefronts.
Additional information is available in Appendix I.
WEBSITE & MARKETING MATERIALS
The Spencer Arts District website will be a coordinated activity of the Arts District, Main Street, and included organizations. Central to the website will be an online events calendar listing all arts and culture events upcoming in Spencer, a needed resource that emerged from every visioning session in this process. A lack of a coordinated schedule causes public events to be scheduled simultaneously, leading to a lower attendance to events which would normally otherwise have a larger audience.
Calendar editing should be accessible to all participating nonprofits, and nonprofits should consult with a web editor to set up an automatic process where events from their online calendar are also entered into the Spencer Arts District calendar. In addition, the website should include an “event submission” form for individuals, artists, and new organizations. These submissions can be reviewed by the Arts District staff and posted.
AN ONLINE HUB FOR ARTS AND CULTURE
In addition, the website should include:
- Organization Resources (including the Arts District logo files, branding FAQs, overview of the Arts District, etc.)
- Artist and Organization directory
Building on the work previously done by Spencer Alliance for a Creative Economy (SPACE), the website should include an “opportunities” page listing the following:
- Calls for Artists & Auditions
- Tools and Resources
- In collaboration with Main Street, identify possible cultural space on Grand Avenue and the surrounding Arts District
McClure has purchased this domain for the Spencer Arts District; once established and staffed, the domain and hosting will be turned over to the District Staff member. If the District wishes the website to be rolled into an existing City website, the domain can be redirected as needed.
The online calendar should also be recreated in brochure and poster form for distribution at local restaurants, hotels, and at the Great Lakes. Consider your existing audience and your potential audience – where are the people coming to the region who do not come to arts and culture events? Where do they shop, dine, stay, and look for things to do?
Finish logo and branding, incorporate into future marketing materials
Staff, nonprofit organizations, Board of Directors
During announcement of Arts District, unveil logo, potentially playing off the new Spencer city logo. Create an online press kit for organizations to download the logo, colors, fonts, and related files. Create agreement of use between nonprofits and the Arts District to ensure inclusion on event publicity to raise awareness of the district.
Manage calendar submissions and calls for artists
Create portal on website for submission of community events, which will go to Arts District staff for inclusion on online website. Check with those submitting after several months to gauge effectiveness and ease of use.
Install Arts District signage on Grand Avenue and along Riverfront
Staff, Board of Directors, City staff, Spencer Main Street, Spencer Alliance for A Creative Economy
Apply for Iowa Great Places funding for permanent construction of Arts District signage; work with Iowa Lakes Community College, Spencer Community College, and/or TechKnow in the design and build of signage.