The preparations for My House Arabianranta, an event in September 2012 that showcased local houses and their architectural solutions, were started in January 2012. Below you’ll find a bunch of observations that may help someone out there replicate the event and develop the concept further.
For organisational reasons and media relations it’s vital to have one appointed person others can asks for advice and who channels the publicising efforts. In all other respects it’s a good idea to share responsibilities. My House Arabianranta event introduces more than one residential building to event guests, and so it would be very functional to give to the volunteers from these houses the responsibility for providing content right from the start. The clearest way to might be to have each house put up their own programme and take of any permits.
The local district association Artova has drawn up a form that the volunteers from the event houses can use to participate in joint publicity efforts. There’s a deadline for handing in the form, and the information to be filled in looks something like this:
- house address
- description of the house or of the event programme
- opening hours
Arabia Street Festival did something that sounds useful. They had a common, black-and-white poster template that anyone could print, complete with their programme info and colour in (optional). The event logo was also available online so that volunteers could add it to their other materials. The street festival preparations started with written announcement of how the district association contributes and what things are for each participant to take care of on their own.
In September 2012 we tested a system where the event happened over the time period of one week and each house had one day at their disposal. A week turned out to be a long time for one single event and the turn-up on weekdays was a challenge – the volunteers and the event guests alike were busy. We gathered the most visitors on the weekend. Therefore it would seem that future events would work better either as a presentations held at regular intervals or as a more interactive weekend sort of thing.
Another choice we made in 2012 was to time the event for autumn so that it would fall in with Helsinki Design Week and OpenHouseHelsinki. It was great to be able to offer a new approach to the big, well-known events. In addition, we had plenty of time to prepare. On the other hand, there were some 200 free World Design Capital events around the city in September, including Helsinki Design Week and OpenHouseHelsinki that appealed to the same audience as My House Arabianranta. That might have affected the visitor count together with a relatively modest publicising. When you decide the time of your event, take into account other events that share the same target audience.
Valuable favours, product gifts and leases provided indispensable support. Even though you’re volunteering, the organisation requires some cash. The budget for My House Arabianranta was initially 800€ but it grew to 2800€ by the end thanks to our partners.
The very first partners we contacted were the housing companies. The criteria we used for choosing which houses and housing companies would showcase in the event were the following: an environment that encourages people to spend time together, fresh ways to make use of common areas or at least enthusiasm to develop these aspects. Residents could suggest their own home building for the event, and we went through these suggestions and then found out whether the other residents of the house were interested in the event and whether the architects and (percent for art scheme) artists would like to participate.
At its best, co-operation can showcase local talent and services and help event visitors find these and make it a part of their everyday life. All co-operation in regards with media visibility and publicity is particularly valuable. HelsinkiDesignWeek and OpenHouseHelsinki gave a hand with media visibility by letting us advertise in their materials, which in turn increased their visibility in the Artova area. Altogether there were some 20 partners.
Looking for partners
The earlier on you start to look for partners and the more you reserve time for it in the project the deeper the co-operation will be. We had a very simple system where each partner offered one or two things: their time, equipment or money.
Translations by Pigasus Translations.