Coronavirus & The Virtual Festival

On 19th April we sent an interim newsletter to all members with more information on the virtual festival and the changes to members' artist galleries, and ideas about getting involved. You can download this here. It includes detailed information on the themes for the daily art trails, advice on flipbooks and super-simple video making; and suggests what all memebr should be doing to help promote the festival in lieu of handing out printed guides. Additional support for the editing of your website gallery is here.

6th April Facebook Update to Oxfordshire Artweeks artists
One of our number has kindly put together these helpful sheets on how to upload a video from your phone or from your camera to YouTube. We hope they will be helpful.
Please note that the themes/tags for our promotional themes will now be available to choose from in your artist gallery after Easter.
The main resource for the virtual festival is these artist galleries though there will be additional changes to the website including the social media wall. Please do upload video as soon as possible - once I know what I have I can promote it. If there is very little additional content before May, it will be much harder. #Staysafe

On 28th March we sent our regular newsletter to all members: this included full instructions on the plans for the virtual festival. You can download it here.
It includes information in exhibition entry online options (including open by appointment only and postponed); the delivery of pre-ordered promotional items; your enhanced artist gallery on the website; and daily themes for promotional purposes throughout May. We ask all members to remember that Artweeks is staffed by less-than-one of a person and that, like so many of you, Esther and Jo are also managing COVID-19 challenges in their family lives. Therefore we ask that you read the newsletter through fully and carefully, before getting in touch with your queries.
Additional support for the editing of your website gallery is here.

Friday 20th March
Reminder to all exhibition organisers/those members who registered a solo/pair/group exhibition (sent by email) Dear Exhibition organisers
Thank you to those of you that have already replied to my last message and your requirements have been noted.
For those that did not reply – WE WILL NOT BE SENDING YOU ANY PRINTED GUIDES UNLESS YOU TELL US you require some BY 5PM TODAY. The majority of replies to date have said they do not require guides.
And please note - your online exhibition has be changed to ‘Closed – Corona’ unless we hear otherwise or you edit your entry to open yourself online.
Thank you everyone for your patience this week while we have been making emergency changes to the website, starting to put a whole new distribution system in place for printed materials, informing the various press and media organisations about our changing plans and reworking the feature pieces for all of these, as well as beginning to plan for a festival on-line. I am sure you have all been fire-fighting in your own families and work environments too.
More to follow in a week or two.
Take care and stay well.

Wednesday 18th March
Communication by email to all exhibition organisers/those members who registered a solo/pair/group exhibition on two important points
1. Your online exhibition will be changed to ‘Closed – Corona’ unless we hear otherwise.
2. Reply required – if you still require printed material.
Dear Exhibition organisers
We are in the process of tidying up the loose ends created by the change in plan and would like to let you know that all May exhibitions will shortly automatically default to ‘Corona: closed’ across the website unless you tell us otherwise. While as an organisation we have been guided by the government’s advice on social distancing and the need to avoid all non-essential social contact for several months, we are aware of a very small number of events that are going ahead regardless.
We are also reorganising the plans for the printed guide. Unless you are exhibiting in Watlington, please email back by return if possible to let us know whether you would still like any guide books or printed material and if so, what quantity, bearing in mind that many places that normally hand them out are closing for the foreseeable future and that the number of people likely to pick up a guide and plan spring visiting has been drastically reduced by the measures to combat coronavirus.
Our distribution arrangements for flags and bunting etc are likely to change as many local area distribution points are now closed to the public or self-isolating and we ask for your continued patience as we sort out new plans.
PLEASE REPLY with your NAME/GROUP EXHIBITION NAME or site number and your requirements.
We plan to be in touch with all members about what each can do as a “virtual festival” in due course and give support where required.
Thank you to those of you who have been in touch with kind words offering your support in these difficult days.
Best Wishes

Tuesday 17th Matrch
Dear Member (to all members by email)
In the light of the yesterday afternoon’s government guidelines that ‘Now is the time for everyone to stop all non-essential contact with others’, it is clear that it is currently inadvisable to go ahead with physical exhibitions which could put the health of members and visitors at risk.
We have discussed this with the the Board who are in full agreement and we will therefore now promote Artweeks 2020 instead as a ‘virtual’ festival, adapting where we can the promotional activity that has already been prepared. We are currently watching closely what impact closures of various businesses, cafes, theatres etc will have on our ability to distribute printed materials. However, we hope to encourage the general population which is self-isolating and social-distancing to enjoy a visit to the website to browse the artist galleries. If you have not already done so, therefore, please still complete your on-line gallery fully, with prices and contact details. The Board regret that this is the situation, but to do anything other than follow the government's advice would now damage the reputation of Artweeks and its members.
Best wishes and stay well.
Esther and Jo

Artweeks newsletter to all members 13th March 2020

Dear Member (to all members by email)
As a follow-up from the Artweeks’ Board’s statement last week (below), we wanted to give you some fuller information about the Artweeks position currently and our approach looking forward.

1) It is impossible to postpone wholescale to an alternative set of dates. The work to promote the May dates has already taken place and the cost of producing printed publicity materials has already been incurred and Artweeks has neither the money nor the time to reproduce this. In addition, the majority of venues and artists would not easily be able to switch to an alternative set of dates.

As these costs cannot be recouped, there is no economic sense in cancelling the festival. The Board will only do so if government guidelines clearly state that we should, and we note it is still eight weeks until the festival opens and ten weeks until Oxford City week: the trajectory of the epidemic is unknown, and their advice between now and then – around social distancing, for example - is likely to change regularly.

2) Although Artweeks is considered a festival because of the length of time for which it runs and the number of events taking place, the venues are geographically-dispersed so it is not a 'mass public gathering'. Artweeks encompasses a wide variety of event types and venues, including pubs, hired venues and home studios: each of your events has a different exhibition set-up and there is a wide variation in expected visitor numbers from venue to venue.

Even the larger venues (mostly) have visitor numbers in the 100s not 1000s, staggered throughout the day(s); for many artists/venues, a person might expect to come into contact with no more people than they would on a day going to work/the supermarket, travelling by public transport. Many Artweeks events are largely outside in generous gardens, and some are unmanned. Others take place in libraries, museums and schools and should be guided by the organisations within which they are showing their work. Each artist/venue is free therefore to make their own decision based on their personal situation. You can choose whether or when to cancel your event at any point between now and the end of the festival.

3) We have made changes to this website to enable you to cancel very easily. If you do feel that your own event should not go ahead, the person who registered that exhibition on the website should log into their web account and choose their exhibition entry under “My Items (2020). At the top of this page there is a new check box for “Closed due to coronavirus” which you should tick. You must then scroll to the bottom to save the change to your exhibition details. This will remove you from the festival map although the venue can still be found using the search engine. Please let us know by emailing esther@artweeks.org.

Artists/exhibitions organisers can also make the decision to cancel within the Artweeks period and reorganise the event to new dates of their own choosing. Again, the exhibition organiser should log-in as described above and then update the “long description” text in their exhibition entries to keep visitors informed of any new plans. Again, scroll down to save the changes. You will then be able to market this yourself in due course as a “postponed Artweeks exhibition.”

Individual members exhibiting within pairs/groups should log-in and update the “Exhibitions and news” section of their own on-line gallery in the same way. Please note that galleries only appear on the website if they include images.

4) For the majority of venues choosing, at this stage, to go ahead with their exhibitions we ask all artists/venues to keep a close eye on the latest guidelines as they are issued by the government/Public Health England. We ask all members to take sensible precautions to both prevent the spread of coronavirus and to minimise the risk to themselves as appropriate to their personal circumstances. We will post both links to useful documents and government advice, and suggestions about ways you might both help keep you and your visitors safe on this new webpage.

5) We will also offer reassurance to the public, signposted boldly from our homepage, that the festival is expected to go ahead, although it may be reduced in size, and that venues are taking sensible precautions. In due course we suggest each venue/artist tells their own mailing lists of the safety precautions taken in your own venue. You may also need to consider the arrangements for any Private View carefully.

6) On Friday 13th March The Board decided to cancel the Artweeks launch event, scheduled for 30th April at the Sewell Gallery Centre at Radley College, mindful of the health of the wider community and the benefit of social distancing.

We continue to monitor the situation closely and further updates will follow if and as required.

Total UK cases COVID-19 Cases Update from Public Health England

Coronavirus: a statement from the Artweeks' Board
10th March 2020 (to all members by email)

While we acknowledge this is a rapidly-changing environment, and we encourage all artists/venues to take sensible precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus and the risk to themselves as appropriate to their personal circumstances, the Artweeks board are keen to reassure members that the festival as a whole will only be cancelled if government guidelines clearly state that we should do so. We encompass a wide variety of event types and venues, including schools, libraries, pubs and museums as well as hired venues and home studios: each of your events has a different exhibition set-up and there is a wide variation in expected visitor numbers from venue to venue. Each artist/venue is free therefore to make their own decision based on their personal situation. Members/venues may do this according to their own timescale – whether that is now or just before the exhibition is due to open. We would ask that you amend your own event entry on the website* and let the Artweeks office know you have done so.
At this point in time we expect the Artweeks launch to go ahead as planned.
As an ‘umbrella marketing’ organisation Oxfordshire Artweeks is not in a position to offer any financial recompense: income from membership and registration fees covers the cost of the administration and marketing for the 2020 festival which is already in place. If closure is required by Public Health England, you may be able to claim from your own event or business insurance.

Over the next ten weeks the board will be monitoring the situation and will keep you up-to-date with any further information and changes to this position.

[*the person who registered the exhibition can log into their web account and amend the ‘long description’. More details instructions on how to do this will follow in due course. If you submitted a paper application then you should email artweeks@artweeks.org and we will make the changes.]

The link to the government's information: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
The government's plan of action [3rd March]