Gigs in Museums Top Tips
It’s a real pleasure to share these tips, which I have built up whilst developing my programme, Get it Loud in Libraries.
Since 2005, we have been programming high quality, live music events in libraries throughout the UK. Our programme seeks to challenge and change perceptions of libraries and to engage new audiences, particularly young people.
Here are my simple tips for your planning, delivering and fundraising for your event – best of luck!
Planning and delivering your live music event
- Start with a strong idea
Planning an event requires detailed planning, organisation and staff hours, so make sure your starting point is sound and will motivate your colleagues throughout the process. Regularly ask yourself of your work “So what?” If you can answer with confidence, your idea should be strong enough to work.
- Give yourself ample time to plan
Aim for a three month lead in time for your event. Give yourself plenty of time to make bookings, plan and train staff, hire equipment and promote and publicise your event. Sold out events don’t happen overnight – they require commitment and strategic planning.
- Ask questions about the viability of live events working successfully in your museum or library
Explore your concerns at an early stage, so there are no nasty surprises on the night. If you are unsure whether sound vibrations from amplifiers will affect your artefacts, or anything else, then get professional advice in advance.
- Learn about your audience
Where is the audience you are hoping to engage and develop? Go where they spend their leisure time and publicise your event there – as well as in the venue, where, potentially, they won’t catch sight of it.
- Be true to your own ethos
Don’t get distracted by what other people do and design an event that fits you. For 12 years, we have resisted the call to serve alcohol at our shows. The shows are purposely designed for people of all ages and aim to be inclusive. We now receive widespread plaudits for taking this stance.
- Get ALL staff on board early for live events
Share information regularly with staff and generate a buzz for new events. Don’t ignore what might be under your nose in terms of staff expertise. If a young volunteer has experience of social media or sound engineering, make them part of your planning.
- Get the best you can afford
If you are going to do it, do it properly. It’s worth shelling out for quality artist(s), sound production, staging hire and security.
- Remember to collect feedback, capture photos and videos, and evaluate your work
Your event will fly by. Remember to collect statistics, feedback and images from your show. You will need a capture a great snapshot of the event to share with senior colleagues, funders and stakeholders.
- This is just the beginning
Give yourself time and remember it’s a journey. Get it Loud in Libraries has developed over 13 years. Think in terms of pilots and milestones. Things might not immediately go as planned, but if your ideas are appealing and fundable, believe in your work and keep going.
Fundraising for live music events
- Be passionate and authentic
A passionate voice is more persuasive. Make it clear to the funder that you believe in your work. Communicate your excitement and invite others to join in and support you. It will encourage arts partners, organisations and live booking agents to want to work with you and create a buzz for your museum or library.
- Focus on the funder’s criteria and eligibility information
How do their focus, interests and priorities meet your own? Look for a funder who is compatible with your work and identify how you can work on their behalf to achieve both of your aims and objectives.
- Don’t be boring
Funders read a LOT of applications and yours needs to stand out. Think how live events will increase the cultural allure of your venue and how it will look and feel. Let this vision power you forward.
- Leave enough time to write a cracking application
Pulling all-nighters to complete and submit a bid in time will play havoc with your spellcheck and word count! You won’t have a friend to read through your work either. Allow good time, avoid buzzwords and sacrifice your word count wisely. The funder will thank you for it.
- Don’t be shy – ask for what you need
Value your project. Ask for what you need and always make it clear what the money will be spent on. You will need adequate funds to deliver any live event professionally. It costs up to £4,000 for us to showcase a premier artist, so bear this in mind when making your own costings.
- Don’t assume people know stuff
Just because you are delivering work in an economically challenged area with rampant transport poverty, don’t assume the funder has all this data and local knowledge at their fingertips. Make it clear what benefits and opportunities your work will create.
- Ask yourself what will change because of your work
What’s in it for your audiences, your artists, your participants, your staff and yourself? If there is fresh, positive change which would not have happened without your work, articulate this and make it clear in your application. If you feel the community will benefit and it will positively transform your venue, go for it.