Cambridge Open Studios takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12 (North/West) and May 18 and 19 (East/Central). Artscope managing editor Brian Goslow cornered Julie Barry, Director of Community Arts for the Cambridge Arts Council, who oversees Cambridge Open Studios, to discuss event preparations, what makes the open studio experience special and what they offer to the arts community.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN OVERSEEING YOUR OPEN STUDIOS WEEKEND?
The Cambridge Arts Council took over the organization of Cambridge Open Studios in 2009. This is our fifth citywide Open Studios even. I have been working on the event since its inception as I started at the Arts Council in the summer of 2008.
WHAT – OR WHOM – BROUGHT YOU ABOARD?
The Cambridge Arts Council had been in dialogue with the local open studios volunteers’ organizations NoCa and CAOS for some time around the possibility of use becoming the administrations for the Open Studios in Cambridge. They had been opportunity independently in their neighborhoods for almost 20 years and had come to a point where they needed some assistance with the organization of the events so the Arts Council took up the charge and opened participation to anyone living or working in Cambridge and made it a citywide event. NoCa still exists and operates markets and the like but CAOS has dissolved.
WHAT DOES THE JOB ENTAIL?
This is a big questions, as the organizer for Open Studios we do everything from securing empty store fronts for artist displays to collecting artist data and populating a detailed brochure with maps of the areas and each artist participating. We also organize a free shuttle service, MBTA and other marketing campaigns, community meetings to help educate artist about open studios and how to market their work, a VIP launch party and much much more.
HOW MUCH TIME GOES INTO IT OVER THE YEAR AND WHEN DO YOU REALLY BEGIN TO RAMP UP PREPARATIONS AS THE EVENT APPROACHES?
We start registration in November and then really get things moving in January working diligently all the months through until the fruition of the events in mid May.
WHAT MAKES YOUR OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND UNIQUE?
Our weekend is unique because it is actually TWO weekends, because we have so many artists and so many business and other venues that wish to participate we have split the city down the middle with all artists in the North/West region opening their studios and homes on one weekend – May 11 & 12 and all artists in the East/Central on another weekend – May 18 & 19. Our open studios is also unique in that we as the organizing body arrange for empty store fronts and other locations where artists who do not have a place in which to show their work may still participate in what we have come to call our ‘common venues’.
WHAT MAKES OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND AN IMPORTANT EVENT FOR YOUR FACILITY AND THE PARTICIPATING ARTISTS?
It is important because it provides artist with an opportunity to showcase their works to a large audience that they would normally not have access to.
IN THE PAST, WHAT HAVE ATTENDEES SAID WAS AMONGST THEIR FAVORITE PARTS OF THE EVENT?
Seeing the individual characteristics of the neighborhoods where Open Studios takes place, getting an inside peek at home, and seeing an unprecedented amount of art work in just a few short days.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT IT?
Meeting the artists that I represent throughout the year, getting to know them personally and experiencing their work.
From an artist’s standpoint, what is the value of the event? How much is about introducing their work to new audiences and how much is about making sales? It depends on the artist that you ask — so would say audiences some would say sales; I think it’s about 60/40.
FROM AN ARTIST’S STANDPOINT, WHAT IS THE VALUE OF THE EVENT? HOW MUCH IS ABOUT INTRODUCING THEIR WORK TO NEW AUDIENCES AND HOW MUCH IS ABOUT MAKING SALES?
It depends on the artist that you ask — some would say audiences, some would say sales; I think it’s about 60/40.
I’VE FOUND MYSELF OVERWHELMED WHEN I ATTEND OPEN STUDIO EVENTS. ANY SUGGESTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERS?
Plan ahead!! Visit the website or pick up a brochure and really look it over, know which artists you really want to see and understand that realistically you, might not be able to get to them all. Also take advantage of the free shuttle services to help get around.
ANY SPECIAL PERFORMANCES OR ACTIVITIES SCHEDULED FOR THIS YEAR’S EVENT?
For the last few years we have help a performing artists show case at CCTV in Central Square this year it will be on Saturday May 18 from noon-4 p.m. This too is free and open to the public.
WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING ON THE MORNING PRIOR TO THE DOORS OPENING?
Helping artists in our common venues put on the finishing touches and getting ready to great the visitors.
AND WHEN THEY CLOSE?
On the Sunday of each weekend we assist out artists in helping to uninstall their works, pack up, and head home for so much needed rest after an art filled weekend. It’s during the day on Saturday and Sunday that I love the most though as that is when I do my very best to get to each and every one of the studios and common venue participating in a specific area to show support to Open Studios artists and to experience their work.
(Cambridge Open Studios takes place Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12 (North/West) and May 18 and 19 (East/Central). For complete details, please visit http://www2.cambridgema.gov/CAC/Community/Cambridge_Open_Studios_Visitors.cfm?minor.