Community Outreach

Community Outreach

Overview:

Community outreach is an important part of developing any program. It is essential when planning art programs for visitors with visual impairments and other disabilities .

People with visual impairments have a broad range of experiences with the arts, both positive and negative. In the past, people with disabilities found museums inaccessible and felt that the visual arts and museums were not interested in visually impaired audiences. Thus, outreach is especially important, not only to ensure that your programs are enjoyed, but also to encourage visually impaired participants to become museumgoers and art enthusiasts.

In this module, we will review outreach resources and strategies. You will find practical tips, a sample media plan, outreach letters, sample meeting agendas, and checklists. We have found that an Open House can be a particularly useful outreach tool, and you will find specific tips and checklists for this type of event.

Practical Considerations:

Sample Agenda

Checklists

Troubleshooting Tips

Funding Strategies! Low Cost. No Cost.

 

Contributors and Reviewers:

Back to top

 

Practical Considerations: Community Outreach

Establishing connections and creating a community outreach program requires research and perseverance.

Making Contacts
Take advantage of resources you already have in the museum. Survey staff members who serve on boards of different community organizations. Other possible contacts include:

Older Audiences

Programming and Information Strategies

Be Part of Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month

Another way to begin reaching out is to make your efforts part of Art Beyond Sight's annual Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month. Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month provides an opportunity for museums, libraries, schools and other community institutions to showcase the work they are doing to promote art education for people who are blind and visually impaired, as well as to raise public awareness. On the Awareness Month Web site, you'll find ideas for a wide range of activities for museums, libraries, schools, and recreational facilities to fit a variety of budgets or schedules. The following resources were designed for Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month participants, but can be used or easily adapted for your institution's programming needs:

Back to top

 

Practical Considerations: Open House

The Open House is a useful tool for introducing programs and resources to a larger community. It provides an informal, commitment-free environment for meeting and information exchange, and can take place at the museum, a community center, or other space. It can be “open” to the public in general, or have a more limited, targeted audience, depending on your needs and budget. If you can, link your Open House to a variety of activities, such as a sample tactile-exploration tour, a verbal-description tour, an appropriate exhibition, or a conference. Ideally, the event should be planned with a variety of community partners, such as the members of your advisory board, to ensure good attendance and focused activities.

Goals of an Open House

The Open House is an opportunity for relationship building between your institution and a variety of communities. Prepare and provide these materials:

You may want to plan your Open House during the annual Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month to take advantage of the international synergy and additional programming.

Getting the word out is equally important after the event. After your successful Open House, present your results at professional conferences such as the National Art Education Association (NAEA), the American Association of Museums (AAM), and the College Art Association (CAA). You can put together a panel of your participants, or be part of a poster session. This is an excellent way to take advantage of the momentum created with the Open House, as well as to learn how to improve your programs and facilitate the growth of other new programs. Art Beyond Sight also has a broad range of listservs, where you can brainstorm ideas and solicit participants in your panel or presentation.

Back to top

 

Practical Considerations: Media Tips. Getting Coverage for Your Program

PLEASE NOTE: The following materials have been taken from the Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month Web site to provide an example of how to create a media program. Please feel free to adapt it to your needs.

How to Become Media Savvy in One Easy Lesson

Good media coverage should be a major priority! If you want to let your local community know about your upcoming Awareness Month event(s), use the media to help spread the word. Here's how:

1. Update your media lists of local newspapers, radio, and television stations.

2. Invite a local news anchor or reporter to participate at your program, whether that be taking a touch tour or attending the awards presentation for an art show.

3. Find out deadlines for submitting all materials. Focus on events that offer good visuals.

4. Two weeks before your celebration date, send out a media advisory to people on your press list.

5. A few days later, call the people on your list to be sure he or she received your media advisory - and invite the reporter to attend your Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month event.

6. Fax or call your key media contacts the morning prior to (or a day or two before) your event, as a reminder.

7. Have enough visuals - colorful books, interesting backdrops, a diversity of students and teachers - to ensure interesting photo opportunities for the press.

8. Please! Please! Send a personal note to thank the media for their coverage.

Adapted with permission from the National Education Association

Back to top


Sample Media Work Plan

PLEASE NOTE: The following materials have been taken from the Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month Web site to provide an example of how to create a media program. Please adapt it to your needs.

Month-by-month Strategies and Tasks
Get the Most from Your Local Media

With the Sample Media Work Plan below, you are just a click away from media outreach success for your activities! This plan is designed to help local groups focus media attention on the annual October Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, and the issue of art for people who are blind and by artists who are blind, as well as assist Art Beyond Sight organizers in reaching out to their local media to obtain event coverage. Adjust this plan to your own issues and events, and be sure to make full use of the resources on the Public Relations page.

Objective #1: Focus media attention on the issue of art for people who are blind and visually impaired, using Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month as a hook.

Tasks:

Objective #2: Obtain publicity for the Art Beyond Sight Collaborative, Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, and your institution.

Tasks:

Objective #3: Focus media attention on Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month events.

Tasks:

Adapted with permission from the National Educators Association

Back to top

 

Media Advisory: Sample Media Alert

PLEASE NOTE: The following materials have been taken from Art Beyond Sight's Awareness Month Web site to provide an example of how to create a media program. Please adapt it to meet your needs.

Distribute two weeks prior to event:

Use this media advisory to alert the people on your media list about your upcoming events. For maximum effectiveness, you should send it out two weeks before your events. Be sure to read Media Tips for information on building a media list, and to see how this advisory fits into your overall media strategy.

Contact:
Phone:
e-mail:
For immediate release
[today's date]
[headline – INSTITUTION joins others across the world in a massive Art Beyond Sight outreach activity]

Blind people in [your town] will join thousands of their peers around the world in experiencing and celebrating their access to art during the month of October.

"Everyone has to the right to learn about the shared culture and art of our world and to participate in the thrill of artistic self-expression. Since all the research shows that people who are blind can experience art,” says [president of your institution], "museums, schools, parents, and community members are joining together to make universal access to art a reality.”

Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is sponsored by the Art Beyond Sight Collaborative, an international group of researchers, blind people, educators, museum professionals, tactile graphics experts, and people from pretty much every field that is in any way related.

One of the goals of Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is to make people aware of just how important pictorial literacy, or familiarity with common visual images, is in daily life. Conversation is sprinkled with references to common visual experiences that people who are blind do not commonly have, but which they could have, and which Art Beyond Sight is committed to giving them.

WHO:

WHAT:

WHERE:

WHEN:

Visit www.artbeyondsight.org for the latest information about other celebrations to include here.

[If you have photographs appropriate to your event/press release, include them in your press kit, and key them to captions at the bottom of this page. Or, note that “photographs are available upon request.”]

 

Sample Letter

This letter is written largely from the viewpoint of a museum professional. Feel free to adapt it to your needs.

Dear _________,

[Institution] has been always been at the forefront of diversity and inclusion, and, true to its mission, it is now taking a leading role in Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month. Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is a project of Art Beyond Sight and the Art Beyond Sight Collaborative of which [institution] is a proud member.

The Art Beyond Sight Collaborative includes institutions and professionals who have been working for years on the joint issues of researching the cognitive capacity of blind people to understand and enjoy visual information, creating the tools with which such information can be conveyed to people without sight, and raising awareness among both people who are blind and institutions providing services to those people about the research and tools that have been made available. Among these institutions are the Museum of Modern Art in New York , the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens in Florida , the Finnish National Gallery, the Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille, and our own [institution]. During Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month, [insert dates], m useums, schools, libraries and blind and sighted people from around the world come together to address the problem of making art and the cultural history of the world accessible to all.

[Institution] will be hosting a [event name] on [date] for [target population]. [While the event is targeted to people who are blind or visually impaired,] this is an opportunity for the whole community to come out in support of our museum and its diversity. [If having community event, such as art show or concert, elaborate].

Sincerely yours,

[name]

[institution]

[phone]

[e-mail]

[address]

 

Sample Letter

Save the Date!

Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month [event name]!

[Institution] invites anyone and everyone with an interest in making arts and culture a part of the lives of people with visual disabilities to a community day of learning and interaction. [insert date] is Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month around the globe, an international initiative dedicated to making art accessible to all. You will learn new things about making museums and our culture's rich visual heritage accessible and appreciable to those people who are blind or have low vision.

One of the goals of Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month is to make people aware of just how important pictorial literacy, or familiarity with common visual images, is in daily life. Conversation is sprinkled with references to common visual experiences that people who are blind do not commonly have, but which they could have, and which Art Beyond Sight is committed to giving them.

Join members of your own visually impaired community and others worldwide at [insert location], on [insert date]. At [insert time] there will be a [event]. Come; bring your family, and friends. There will be plenty of fun for everyone!

Mark your calendars now! If you have any questions, feel free to call [insert contact name and phone number].

Join in! The Art Beyond Sight Collaborative listservs are your resource to experts in every field. Go to www.artbeyondsight.org for more formation about our listservs, Awareness Month and other invaluable resources.

Back to top

 

Agenda: Open House

Meeting with Advisory Board About an Open House

Back to top

 

Checklist: Community Outreach
  1. Compile mailing list of local organizations and contact persons, using this list as a guideline. This may be a good project for your interns.
  1. Design publicity, according to your budget, ranging from simple large-font fliers, to color postcards, and posters. Re-design these files for e-mail distribution.
  1. From your mailing list, create a database to track responses to mailing.
  1. Contact your information services manager to determine what kinds of networking options you might have: listservs, newsletters, automatic mailing lists, etc., to keep the flow of information between potential participants and museum fast and efficient.

Back to top

 

Checklist: Open House

Before Event:

  1. Design publicity for your Open House. Verify information, such as date, time, place. Make sure it is as accessible as possible to the visually impaired: large, clear graphite font, clear contrast. Refreshments are often a draw—mention them in the publicity if possible. The design can then be incorporated into fliers and invitations.
  1. Generate small posters or fliers and distribute to community partners.
  1. Mail press releases two to three weeks before and week of event.
  1. Mail invitation and/or registration-form mailing.
  1. Track RSVPs. Follow up on those who do not respond, if possible.
  1. Create information packets (folders or bags) that can include:
  1. Design and organize tour of your institution. Contact security, visitor services, etc., to alert them of your needs.
  1. Design other activities—lectures, tactile demonstrations, verbal description demonstrations, meet the artists sessions, and so forth.
  1. Organize refreshments.

At the event:

  1. Provide contact/mailing list sign up sheet. You may want to give those attending the option of obtaining a copy of the list, as well as having their names distributed as a contact. This will help the participants contact each other. They, of course, may choose not to have their names disseminated and just be on the museum's mailing list.
  1. Have enough staff and volunteers available to assist attendees, answer questions, and serve refreshments.

After event:

  1. Generate a contact list (compiled during the Open House and distributed it after the event to facilitate networking follow-up calls).

Back to top

 

Troubleshooting Tips: Community Outreach

Back to top

 

Troubleshooting Tips: Planning an Open House

Back to top

 

Funding Strategies: Community Outreach and Open House

Low cost.

No Cost

Back to top

bullet About UsbulletNetworkbullet Teachbullet Learnbullet Changebullet Home   

Getting Started: Assess Your Institution
Museum-School Partnerships
HANDBOOK HOME

 

© Art Beyond Sight
Site Credits
Contact
Eye logo