If you missed the beginning of the story, you can read it HERE.
So I go to the place the night of the event, and a couple of my awesome art teacher friends where there setting up artwork on tables with table easels, as planned. There was no one around from the organization yet, so I took stock of the situation.
Artwork from 4 of the 6 schools was there in the room, which was perfect because I had heard from teachers at the other two schools who let me know they dropped their work off early. I also noticed that, despite planning to the level of detail that included a sketch of the room layout, there were not the right number of tables in the room. They were not arranged like they were in the sketch either, but teachers from two of the schools had set up their table displays already, so… whatever. We’ll go with it.
Eventually, the man who I had worked with to do all of this planning arrived. Let’s call him Sam. Sam didn’t realize that this was not the right number of tables, but was happy to get more. (Dude, you drew the room layout diagram! But, not a big deal.)
I asked Sam about the artwork from the other two schools, and again, as if we had never discussed the plans, he had no idea there might be artwork someplace else. He went to ask about this, found the work, and brought it into the conference room. All good!
I asked Sam about volunteers from the hosting organization. According to the plan, volunteers would set up artwork for teachers who could not be there to set it up themselves. Sam had no idea what I was talking about and clearly had no one coming to help.
Ok. Not the end of the world. The teachers who were on site offered to helped me set up the rest of the work, so we got to it.
A we did this, Sam asks, “So what happens with all of this work tonight after the event?”
At this point, I really wanted to pull up the detailed email I had sent with all of the plans, and the one he sent in response that said, “This sounds fine.” But I was trying to be polite. I explained, as calmly as I could, that we had planned to have volunteers from the organization take all of the work down and sort it back into the provided portfolios at the end of the night.
Before you know it, Sam was back in the room with a woman who was a manager of some sort. She starts to tell me that this venue normally charges $150 per hour for additional take down responsibilities.
Whoa, Lady! This is not even my event! I am just helping out!
I reminded Sam and this manager woman that he had also agreed that the work could be stored on site until the teachers could come to pick them up in the next day or two.
“We can’t keep this artwork here. The teachers will have to come get it first thing in the morning.”
The morning? A weekday morning? Do I have to explain what teachers do? Um… THEY ARE TEACHING IN THE MORNING!
Oh! My! God!
(My blood pressure is going up just retelling this story, so let me end it.)
After some conversation, I gave up and agreed to come get all of the work, and all of the easels, and return it to the schools myself. I was able to slip in the suggestion that if a display of artwork is ever to be included in this event in the future, that things would have to happen differently. I was quietly pleased to hear Sam suggest they would probably not even try. “It’s just so much work, and there are so many logistics.”
And this is my point… To all those people out there in the world who think, “maybe we could just have some student artwork on display,” please realize that there is a lot involved. I appreciate that folks want to recognize our programs and the work of our student artists, but realize that for each of the challenges shared in this story, the teachers dealt with another before the artwork even got to the venue. They had to work with their students to gather the work, mat it, label it, package it, and deliver it. I don’t mean to suggest that you should never consider a display of student artwork, just that you have to be prepared to support all of the logistics involved.
Despite the debacle, I was pleased to hear that the event went well, and everyone was very impressed with the artwork. I am extremely grateful to all of the teachers at the participating schools for all of their help. Your work is appreciated, and the student art you provided really did enhance the event. I thank you!