Coronavirus & The Virtual Festival

News release 8th October: looking ahead to 2021

The Board has given detailed consideration to the best way to approach 2021 at a time when, while we all hope COVID-secure physical exhibitions will take place, we cannot be sure that advice and regulations concerning/controlling the pandemic will not still be in place.
The following aproach was endorsed by the Artweeks membership at the AGM held in October 2020.

The Festival Guide
It is currently far from certain that the distribution of the 2021 can take place in the normal way: many places including libraries and theatres do not expect to be able to hand out any printed material until April at the earliest. We plan therefore to produce only a digital version, as a pdf and a flipbook. This will be distributed widely electronically. The website will also show all the information about each exhibition on an interactive map and visitors will be able to browse and search for nearby venues, specific artists and by keyword from their smartphones.

Cancelling the printing of the Festival Guide enables us to delay the deadline date so potential exhibitors in May 2020 can see how the pandemic evolves over the winter.

The revised deadline for registration is 31st January 2021.

Consider an appointment system
As you plan your opening times, consider offering appointments in the mornings/evening or on certain days – for example 12-6pm (10am-12pm by appt). You can plan to use an appointment system from the outset if you wish, simply writing ‘By appt only’ as opening times, or if you opt to do this later, details can be amended on the website on a venue-by-venue basis in real time, up to and during the festival.
Venues can, if they wish, individually link to a simple appointment system - ideally Calendly.com for consistency - from the exhibition text on the Artweeks website so visitors can prebook on-line. We note that opening by-appointment-only stops passing visitors popping in; however feedback shows those who make an appointment are more likely to buy.

All exhibition organisers must agree to take appropriate measures so that the exhibition complies with government guidance on being COVID-secure. If current or similar regulations still apply in May, take tips from shops and galleries on masks, hand sanitizer, etc and think how traffic flow could take a one way path through larger venues, for example. Your text in the festival guide might include phrases such as airy/open venue; large garden; etc. or even Covid-secure. You can alternatively add these things in your on-line text.

The recommended Artweeks COVID-secure policy should reassure even the most wary visitors that your venue is safe to visit.
COVID-secure policy
Risk assessment template
You may wish to include a link to a completed risk assessment in the ‘long description’ within your exhibition entry on this website.

Real time updates
The digital Festival Guide will make it clear that visitors should always check the website before setting out in case changing regulations have caused an exhibition venue to amend its open hours, to limit visitor numbers or introduce an appointment system at short notice. Although the information in the digital festival guide will be as registered, you can amend your exhibition details on the website any time until and during the festival. If circumstances cause last minute wholescale changes as they did in 2020, venues will then be able to choose to mark themselves as Open/Open by Appointment only/Postponed/Closed.

What will happen if the pandemic impacts upon or closes physical exhibitions in 2021?
• Alongside the physical festival, Oxfordshire Artweeks will host a virtual festival over the same period.
• All members can participate simply by completing their extended on-line profile before the festival begins with images and additional information.
• All artist profiles will be included in the on-line art showcase, the mainstay of the virtual festival, which will also offer visitors a choice of themed art trails and general searches/browsing.
• There will be ‘trailer’ videos again & the art showcase will remain on-line until 30th September 2021.
• Again a proportion of the virtual festival will take place live on social media and those who wish can take part for the full 24 days of the festival rather than a single geographic week.

In addition to the May festival, Artweeks support for artists in 2021 will include • NEW: The ability for members to promote workshops & Christmas events on the website
All members may upload details of workshops they are running all year round and Christmas events 2021 that will be listed, simply, by date on the Artweeks website.
• Monthly newsletters, opportunities for additional publicity and all year round networking on the Oxfordshire Artweeks artists Facebook group and through the activities of local Artweeks coordinators/groups.

We have also been asked ‘If the physical festival doesn’t go ahead again in 2021, will I get my money back?’

Unfortunately not. Oxfordshire Artweeks is a non-profit organisation which has worked to support both emerging and established artists for nearly forty years and it is entirely reliant on the income received from artists on a yearly basis. We don’t receive any grants or support from elsewhere.

The fees each year fund the staffing of the organisation by two part-timer, other running costs and the marketing of the festival including the website and web support, costs largely incurred before the end of February. This means income from 2021 registrations will have been spent/committed before we know for certain whether coronavirus will impact upon festival plans.

We therefore ask our regular exhibitors to be clear that this is a challenging time for Artweeks: if you are in a position to do so, please you show your support for the organisation through these difficult times, by registering this year as normal so that an annual Artweeks festival can continue to take place and support Oxfordshire artists in the future.