Post-pandemic, the real estate market has emerged shakily, with brands and galleries hesitant to commit to owning a space, or even longer-term rentals.
On the other hand, consumers are gravitating towards experiences of exclusivity – activations that take place over a short period of time are drawing more attention than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
It is undeniable that the Pop-Up Economy has been booming for years. Pop-up spaces for art exhibitions, clothing brands and concerts are skyrocketing in popularity.
So what makes a pop-up space successful, and how does one know how to stage a great public art activation?
As independent curators, Art Pharmacy is no stranger to the world of pop-up art shows. Our team has been staging successful and impactful pop-up art exhibitions for over a decade – our first being a show on Sydney’s Oxford Street in 2012 – and we’ve definitely learned a thing or two along the way.
Here are our top 3 tips on how to curate, organise and realise a great public art activation.
Choosing a space with big, clean windows is a must – the space must be visible from the street. You don’t want to be tucked away; no matter how great the art you’re displaying is, if passerbys can’t see it as they walk past the area, you won’t get a substantial audience.
It’s also easy to let the practicalities of the space slip your mind with the excitement of running a pop-up art show, but make sure the space has all necessary utilities, like powerpoints, natural lighting or a lighting system to illuminate the artworks, a security system and storage. Ideally the space has been passed with crisp white walls and a decent lighting system.
Host an opening night to include locals, the community as well as other arts organisations in your project. Invite people from press, the media as well as relevant VIP guests. Budget for a professional videographer and photographer to produce content to use post-event, and organise drinks and catering. Invite your neighbours and if you think it is going to be a huge event let the police know in advance.
Spread the word! Promote your event on social media, reach out to local arts and events publications and ask your artists to use their own social presence to market your event. Make a website to direct interested people to, and get a graphic designer to create flyers to hand out. Make sure you organise signage and an A-Frame sign for the pavement outside so passersby know what’s going on.
Art Pharmacy is one of Australia’s leading art consultancies, and has over 10 years of experience curating pop-up art exhibitions. We also have a comprehensive profile of both emerging and established creatives excited to activate spaces, so if you are a developer or landlord and have an empty space that you would like to see great art and culture in, get in touch!