Festival Banner (the Arts Festival blog)

Plaza Art Fair
Kansas City’s Plaza Art Fair

Last week, Sidewalk Sale Coordinator Pam Lautsch and I had the opportunity to attend the Seventh Annual Arts Festival Conference sponsored by Zapplication, the folks who produce the software we use to manage artist applications and jurying for the Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition.

The conference was held in Kansas City, Missouri so that attendees could also attend the 84th Plaza Art Fair, one of the country’s top festivals. The Plaza Art Fair attracts 200,000 people and takes place at Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, one of America’s first shopping centers and one of its snazziest, too. The plaza’s buildings are inspired by models in Seville, Spain and it’s filled with upscale shops such as Coach, Williams-Sonoma, Tiffany & Co. It’s a handsome backdrop for an arts festival.

In addition to attending the conference, I assisted our digital guru Courtney Shelton Hunt of the Denovati Group in giving a presentation called Managing the Festival in the Cloud: Technical Trends to Enhance Your Festival.

As I’m sure you know, today, arts festivals exist not only on the ground, but also “in the cloud.” Our website and social media presence is up and running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Effective festival management means not just an excellent visitor experience in downtown State College and on the Penn State campus, but also to extend that experience into cyberspace.

While we can’t create dumping buckets on your laptop or turn your mobile phone into a delivery system for Creamery ice cream cones and chicken-on-a-stick, it’s still incumbent upon festival managers to provide the same care, attention, and resources to the virtual experiences festival goers have as they do to their “in person” experiences.

Our talk focused on our transition to a mobile-optimized website, and use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a blog to promote the Festival. In the past two years, we’ve put a lot of effort into this project under Courtney’s guidance, and I’m proud of our results. We’ve increased the number of online followers we have, but more importantly, we’ve increased their engagement throughout the year with the Festival.

We had a great session and were able to share ideas with artists and festival directors from such great shows as the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the St. Louis Art Fair, the Main Street Fort Worth Art Fair, and the Coconut Grove Festival of the Arts.

After our talk, we took a walk across the street to Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It’s a fabulous museum, but I gotta admit, my chest swelled a bit when I saw that while our Festival has a mobile optimized website, the museum didn’t.

Who said “Everything’s is up to date in Kansas City!”?