Exhibition/competition organisers require numerous skills surrounding the writing of a brief, format, set of guidelines or directives to encourage textile artists to enter competitions or exhibitions.

The pre-planning required to constitute part of the vast processes of mounting such an event is monumental.

But, let’s not forget, every time an exhibition or competition is held, it’s an opportunity to positively impact the public’s view of textiles as art – increasing their respect and appreciation for this medium as a valued and valuable artistic medium.  So, it needs to be right.

A well-organised event could include an educative element, hands-on workshops, scheduled artist talks, guided tours, a saleable catalogue or book and a well-publicised opening event – hopefully, all endorsed by comprehensive attendee e-mail lists and positive social media coverage, cementing an image of professionalism and a well-rounded depth of knowledge of the textile arts.  It’s all about links and networks.  Circles within circles.

This is also the time to think of social media exposure – dipping into the valuable networks of the venue, the organisers, the entrants, sponsors, textile-related businesses and textile-based magazines, but, also including community involvement by inviting local dignitaries and involving/supporting other local community-based businesses.

A good photographer/videographer is essential to capture moment-worthy images and videos to be used for print and online media.  These can be uploaded onto social media within moments – scary but true.  Best to use your own, rather than lose that one-off opportunity for promotion – or worse, having it done poorly by someone else.

It’s a truck-load of work, I know.  But organisers, don’t be daunted – just be organised.  Done well, with adequate thought given to all these components, the work of putting up an exhibition or competition is made a lot easier for everyone, including the entrants, volunteers, staff and sponsors.  Plus it’s more enjoyable for the viewing public when everything is harmonious.

An inspiring team, led by a visionary team leader is crucial – along with a sense of humour too I think.  A timeline needs to be constructed, working from the end-of-event, forward – ensuring adequate time is allotted for advertising and promotion, collection and collation of entries, curation of hanging and hanging day itself – as well as take-down, the opening event, photography, production of a book or catalogue, plus other event-related offerings – and thank you’s to all involved including Judges.

And that includes a lot of writing.  Writing that seduces, invites and entices artists to want to enter, but is also comprehensive and easily understood.

The best exhibitions/competitions I’ve entered are the ones that tick all these boxes.

Why?  Because, as an entrant, it makes my job a lot easier if all the necessary information is there, presented in an easily understood format that intrigues me and makes me want to read on – and even enter.

The brief answers all of my questions so I don’t have to contact organisers, I simply follow the steps – and many organisations, thankfully, now offer great online entry formats, making things so much easier and more efficient.  Images are uploaded, payments made and a copy of my successful entry immediately flicked to my email.  Plus it’s paperless!

So we all have our jobs to do.  Organisers to be organised.

Me, the entrant, to ensure I know what’s expected of me.

Best of all, we’re all promoting and supporting our industry as deserving the designation of art.

cathy jack coupland