Burlington, VT

Contact Name
Adam Brooks
Project Dates
September 6-8, 2013
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2013
Tags
Event, Marketing
Now in its 20th year, the South End Arts & Business Association has presented a remarkable exhibition of visual art, Vermont’s largest, the South End Art Hop.

The South End Art Hop is a three day event occurring on the weekend following the Labor Day holiday. It attracts over 30,000 visitors, the majority from outside Burlington. Visitors are attracted to the South End artist’s studios, and local businesses that are refit as art galleries and exhibition sites for the more than 500 participating artists. The event celebrates the unique characteristics of the Pine Street corridor, in particular the development of concentrated creative and artistic activity that has been established in numerous re-purposed factories and warehouses within the District. This corridor has been designated, and r
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
The goal of the South End Art Hop is to provide a free event for 35,000 people over 3 days. SEAH is the largest exhibit of visual arts in Vermont, and includes live music, over 500 artists at 105 locations...of which SEABA curates 15-20 sites each year, STRUT Fashion Show, Hopapalooza concert featuring the best in local live music, live art, comedy, performing arts, Kids Hop, juried show, and much more. The goal is to increase attendance, increase programming, and increase in sales of artwork, and provide a fun safe event for everyone.
Have they changed over time?
The South End Art Hop has changed, grown, and adapted over time. The goal twenty years ago had been to put on a true celebration of the visual arts. It has turned into the largest exhibit of visual arts AND the event has turned out to be the main revenue producer for artists in the South End, and a true celebration of the arts in general.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Artists & small businesses in the South End, our Board of Directors, the City of Burlington,and sponsors.
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
An event of this magnitude requires an overwhelming amount of organization. With 5 staff/coordinators, 250 volunteers, and many sites and artists...the first step was to set up roles & responsibilities of the staff/coordinators. Inform and register sites & artists. Create a marketing plan, along with budget. Timeline is essential to ensure items are accomplished prior to deadline. And of course, if you did everything above, the execution of the event will be seamless!
Have they been refined over time?
As the project has grown, especially over the last 5 years, more organization and staff has been required to put on a fun...yet safe event. In 2003, the South End Art Hop contained 200 artists at about 40 sites, compared to over 500 and 105 sites in 2012.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles?
Safety of the 35,000 visitors to the event. We needed to think about security, police presence (it can get a bit rowdy), fire marshall and DLC inspections, crossing guards, water stations, info booths, bathrooms, trash/recycling, and evacuation plan. We actually had a hurricane warning in 2012 during our Kids Hop event, and needed to move over 300 children and their families.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
The Executive Director is ultimately responsible for the safety of the visitors at the South End Art Hop.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Start small
Organize to eliminate
Talk to others who have succeeded, and failed.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
We estimate that 85% of businesses in the South End participate in Art Hop, for many businesses and artists...it is the one opportunity during the year to have a packed storefront. The economic impact of this event is tremendous for the South End, greater attention is normally paid to the downtown district, and larger box stores in the suburbs.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
It is estimated to be the largest attendance at an Art Hop event at 35,000, we did expand to a three day event, with Sunday being more of a day for potential art buyers. Which paid off, artists reported excellent sales on Saturday and Sunday primarily. Programming was increased to include a Friday night live music concert, a secure beer garden, pop up performing arts, flash mobs, a comedy club. From reports received from the city and police department, there were very few incidents of open containers, and no other tickets issued over the weekend. Parking was spread to outlying areas, with shuttles bringing folks in and out of the South End. Many walked or biked, where crossing guards played a key role. The South End Art Hop was chosen as a Top 10 Fall Event by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.
Were there unexpected impacts?
The one real impact of producing a large, FREE event...is the need for the South End Art Hop to look at potential revenue streams while keeping our mission of providing a free event to the community.
CCX Workshop Handout