Planning a cultural event – the essentials for success

Cultural events may take a multitude of shapes and can go from something as simple as an exhibition to extremely complex events like art festivals. But there are certain aspects that make planning a cultural event a particular challenge. We have tackled these challenges and came up with a series of guidelines that will make your task easier and will maximize your chances of success.

Choose your theme wisely

As you know, the theme will dictate everything during the planning process, so choose it wisely. It can be a celebration dedicated to an artistic personality that is connected to your city, region or country. It can be a festival dedicated to a certain art current or to the representation of a certain concept across arts. But whatever the theme is, make sure it is relevant to a wide enough audience for the scale you have in mind for your event. The theme will be the point of interest and what will actually sell the event.

Plan way ahead

When planning a small scale cultural event, take into account that you will start communicating it to the public 2-3 months in advance. So, start planning at least 6 months in advance. For a large scale, complex cultural event such as an art festival, you will announce it at least 6 months before its actual starting date. So, start preparing 12-18 months ahead.

Planning a cultural event – set the structure

Make it fun

There is the misconception that culture “doesn’t sell” because it’s not “fun”. But this can only be true if your event is a static experience. When you set the structure of your cultural event, make sure to insert opportunities for attendees to get together, socialize and relax. This can be a lounge or cocktail bar in the foyer of an art exhibition, an aperitivo after a day-long symposium on literature, or a party after a theater play. Occasions for socialization are even easier to insert into your cultural event schedule if the event is more complex, like an arts festival. Include street art performances and region-specific street food vendors to add spice to the event.

Make it exciting

Second, add an extra point of interest by including a competition (or more than one) into the event structure. This will get the artist community involved and will help spread the word about the event. Keep in mind that the competition has to be tightly related to the theme of the event.

Make it noble

You can include a charity dimension by auctioning art pieces related to the theme. You can use this as a publicity opportunity for local artists that could donate pieces to get their names known. Moreover, your event will gain in prestige because it will be associated with a noble cause. The cause can be humanitarian, or it can be related to the preservation or restoration of cultural assets in your area.

Make it manageable

If your cultural event is a complex one, make it a mix of free and paid activities, and ticket them separately. The free activities will act as incentives for people to “try out” your event and draw them towards the paid ones as well. To manage the whole thing, make sure you use an online platform to display and sell tickets for the event. If you use Metooo as your event platform, you can create the complex event as an event group, and add the separate activities as related events. Moreover, for each activity you can create various types of tickets and get your funds immediately as your attendees pay for them through secure transactions.

Budgeting and funding the cultural event

When planning a cultural event, you have significant opportunities for cutting costs, because you can get public institutions involved as partners. And since the costs that weigh the most in your event budget are those related to the venue, the opportunities are vast: from museums, universities, the city hall, and public libraries, to public parks. Make sure you start the application process with plenty of time in advance, as waiting times and the various rounds of project approvals in the public sector will make everything very slow.

Another cost cut opportunity is getting volunteers to work in your event planning team. Students are the most obvious option, as well as aspiring event planners, as volunteering experience would benefit them, too, while building their CVs.

As for funding, ticket sales alone will almost certainly not be enough to cover the total cost of the event. Which is why, even with the partnership of public institutions, your cultural event will need sponsors. A good place to start the search is among companies related to the art field, like publishing houses and art galleries. Art collectors and patrons of the art can also be an option, through donations.

Marketing a cultural event

For sure, web marketing will have an important role in in making your cultural event well known in the region. The event website will be the central point, while display advertising, email marketing and precisely targeted social media campaigns will help you spread the word.

For this type of event though, don’t underestimate the power of offline marketing. For cultural events, posters and billboards across the city are still an effective tool. Moreover, get institutions involved even further. Your event will be of interest for schools, high-schools and universities, so send proposals to educational decision factors, along with a series of discounts for student groups.

Welcoming your guests

During a cultural event, guest check-in is of utmost importance, especially if it takes place outdoor, or if it’s a large scale event involving a high number of attendees. Minimize waiting times and queues at the entrance by using an app to quickly scan tickets on a mobile device. If you you chose Metooo as your event management platform, you can do this with our Event Plan app that instantly scans the QR code on the tickets, for a stress free check-in, even from multiple devices at the same time.

And last but not least, security is another important aspect when checking guests in at cultural events. Make sure you have enough security staff to control bags at the gate, and also throughout the venue if the event involves art pieces on display.

These were our guidelines for planning a cultural event. The field is vast but we believe that if you keep these steps in mind during the planning process, your cultural event will have increased chances for success.

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