5 Lessons We Learned from our 1st Big Event

On May 1st at 6:30pm, all of our hard work - talking with sponsors, collecting films and visual art, promoting the event, learning about Special Event licenses, and so much more - came to fruition. The Back Alley Artists Night was a success! We had approximately 60 Vancouver artists - of many disciplines - arrive to watch ten fantastic short films, admire the art of ten inspiring visual artists, and get to know each other. 

For that we would like to say... thank you! We are so honoured by the interest in our event and we want you to know that it couldn't have been a success without you.

Even though we consider the event a success, we also feel like there is always something to learn. The process of putting together this first independent event was gruelling and the learning curve was steep.

Here are five of the most important lessons that we received during the making of this event:

  1. Incredible artists are all around us, we just have to find them!

    There is, in fact, still a plethora of kind, supportive, talented artists still residing within Vancouver. Not everyone has migrated to Toronto! That is not yet, but if we - The Purple Stapler and yourselves -  continue to come together and promote each other's shining talent, we can help revive Vancouver's fine art scene. It will take a lot of work! With your passion and incredible talents, however, I know that we can do it.
  2. Everything takes longer than you think. Everything.

    We started planning this event only a mere month before its launch. While I’m very glad we did, there is something to be said about having plenty of time incase of mistakes and setbacks. Especially when it is an organization’s first big event! We are happy with the way things turned out but given more time we would have liked to add more personal touches.

    For example, our Audience Choice ballots, while functional, were not very formal. We missed turning off the digital film file titles at the start of the screening - TheBigHula.MP4 doesn't look very pretty.

    Something else that would be better to have more time for next time around (and we do plan to host this event again!) would be to have more time for the submission of films and artwork. As it was, we were only able to announce the list of films and artists no sooner than a week before the event which didn't allow for much planning on our audience's part. With more time, however, people can see the playlist with plenty of time in advance to mark our event in their calendars. 
  3. Help is… well, very helpful indeed.

    Instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off on the day of the event, next time we plan on enlisting more volunteers. Trying to organize everything that was left to the last minute, move around objects in the venue, and run the actual event by ourselves became overwhelming.

    We are so, so grateful to the five volunteers that we had on the day. The event would have been a disaster without you! So thank you and next time we definitely need more people helping out from day one. That will make it less stressful and more fun for everyone involved.
  4. Success can mean very different things.

    There are different types of success when it comes to hosting events, especially with the mandates of The Purple Stapler’s mission statement. We want to promote networking, creativity, and human depth in projects. We love it and are confident that our event was successful in achieving those goals. I feel very much like we were able to bring people together and share meaningful works with the community.

    We did not however, succeed in raising any funds for our short film: Yes, Obviously. We will find other ways of funding our project, without a doubt, but it did teach us an interesting lesson. I felt fulfilled and happy with the reception of our Back Alley Artists Night when I finally got home around 2am. I wish that we could have raised some money. I wish that we could have, dare I say, broken even on our production costs. But this was something that was worth losing a couple hundred bucks over. There are more important things than money. Though it is good to be self sufficient. 
  5. People are hard to predict!

    Every person is individual and always evolving but as an organization hosting its first independent event, we got a first hand taste of how hard it is to estimate things like: attendance, alcohol consumption and the need for snacks. Not having had that experience before, we got a much better idea of the reality of those expenses and ideally will be able to apply that to our next event. our goal next time is not to lose money on buying to much overhead.

Well there you have it. The five things we learned from hosting our first event. Do you have any thoughts on ways we can implement these? Any suggestions? Critique from the night?

Please let us know! We want to learn and accept feedback after each event we hold so that we can make the next one even better for you and the arts community of Vancouver.

Thank you again! We hope to see or hear from you soon.