“How to Throw an ART DAY Party” by Becky Mate

Is there chocolate involved? Of course! Then I’m in.

International Art Day, a day dedicated to the appreciation of the arts, art collectors, arts organizations, arts supporters and artists of all disciplines, was founded by Artists for a Better World member Becky Mate in 1998. It is a holiday, like Valentine’s Day or Arbor Day, but instead of hugging your sweetheart or hugging a tree, you hug an artist! Since 2006, the various Mayors of Glendale, CA, have proclaimed the second Friday in August as Art Day, and Glendale the Home of Art Day.

So it’s official, for starters, in Glendale. Art Day has been celebrated on a grassroots basis in isolated spots in England, France, Russia, Malaysia, Brazil, Belize, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas, Hawaii, Canada, Puerto Rico, etc.

Now I realize, all you creative types, that I don’t really need to tell you how to throw an Art Day party. Invite artists, poets, writers, dancers, actors and musicians. Encourage them to share a little bit of their work. Arrange for food or have it be potluck. Voila, you have a great Art Party!

Simple and fun.

With this article, I’m letting you in on a few secrets that will make your great Art Day party into an awesome one. There are 7 large hats (job titles and their duties) for you and yours to wear that make the difference. Each has 3 smaller hats, making 21 things to make sure get done. Enough with the math. The last three are the most important, so I’ll list them first.

PARTY PRODUCER HAT

Find a good location for an art party, arrange refreshments (don’t forget the chocolate,) have a party and leave the place cleaner than you found it.

SUB HAT #21: FOUNDER’S REPRESENTATIVE

Does this mean you need to invite me, the Founder of Art Day, to your party? No (but you may if you like), it means that at some point in the party, you need to remind everyone that the Art Day holiday is not a single party, but a worldwide grassroots movement to appreciate artists and patrons, and to bring funding into the arts. Your guests are part of a greater whole; they are making history. You are establishing an Art Day tradition in your neck of the woods.

SUB HAT #20: ARTS ACTIVIST

Get ready to do battle against those who wish to destroy the arts and artists. Forbid art criticism at your party. Glare ferociously at anyone who intimates that art is frivolous or that creativity comes from the murky subconscious (whatever that means). Oust anyone who is antisocial, trouble or a pain. Make sure that any needed permits are gotten and laws are followed. The Arts Activist is there to create an environment where it is safe to be an artist.

SUB HAT #19: THEME SETTER

It makes for a better party to benefit a greater need. One year at my Art Day party we had a small silent auction to raise funds for a new theatre in town. Another year, we sent Art Day greeting cards to various consulates — pick a country, any country. Another year, we awarded the winners of the Randy the Handyman Artists and Writers Contest. Another year we celebrated the fact that the gardens of my apartment building were the historical site of the very first international Art Day party — complete with a homemade plaque. Set the goal of the party.

TASKMASTER HAT

Gets people to help with party tasks, as in “You, hang decorations. You, keep the food table stocked and neat. You, don’t do that; come over here and have guests sign the guestbook.”

SUB HAT #1: TASK ASSIGNER

Everybody helps. Let them know what to do and how to do it. You’ll have participants delighting in contributing their efforts and talents to such a marvelous party.

SUB HAT #2: CHIPPER SKIPPER

He makes sure everyone is happily getting along with lots of communication, such as audience experiencing the art and performances, and people discussing the arts and Art Day. As well as engaging that lonely person in conversation, you can also have the Chipper Skipper mail or email the invites, and man the phone for people calling for directions, etc. If he’s on his toes, you’ll have cheerful dialogue among participants.

SUB HAT #3: THE ENFORCER

I had a friend who felt that non-producing artists were treasonous to themselves and to society for denying their talents to the world. An actionable offense. Perhaps those artists are mired by clutter, or don’t really know who they are as artists or are in doubt between whether to do art or a “day job.” Or, they’ve been hanging around people who subtly or openly chastise them for doing art or who put down their art. Besides tracking attendance, media attention and other statistics, the Enforcer gets artists creating again, and brings about artists who are willing to be artists and do art.

PARTY PUBLICIST HAT

Lets people know there’s a party and encourages them to RSVP.

SUB HAT #4: PARTY PROMOTER

The creativity begins with the invitations (mailed or emailed), and extends right up to the party with signs letting people know they’ve arrived. I’ve made Art Day mugs, t-shirts, buttons and bags. For extra fun, buy or make art greeting cards, and put “Happy Art Day” inside. (Or buy some ready-made.) You can have the Chipper Skipper send invitations in the cards, or send out cards by themselves, or give the cards to guests to send to their beloved artists and patrons. The Party Promoter produces invitations and signs and other things that generate a desire to participate.

SUB HAT #5 ART STUFF GUY

Did you know during the month preceding Art Day, and on the day itself, it is traditional to wear jewelry and clothing that promotes the arts? A tiny canvas necklace, a paint pallette pin, an Art Day button, piano suspenders, an arts festival shirt are just some of the things that remind people of the arts. (Think snowmen, Santa, and reindeer paraphernalia, along with creches, in the month before Christmas.) It is true that you get what you promote, so promote the arts. Another way to promote the arts is with books, from how-to books, to books showcasing the masters, to a homemade coloring book about daisies celebrating each of the arts on Art Day. During the party, the Art Stuff Guy gives out (or sells) stuff and he ends up with people who understand Art Day and who promote the arts.

SUB HAT #6: THE SEDUCTRESS

It takes some bread to throw a party. A breadcrumb gets you an intimate party, a giant loaf of bread gets you the party of the century. Whether you feed loose change into a piggy bank that you break into each year, or whether you solicit corporate donations, the objective is adequate funds to have a grand party with some left over for next year. The other ingredient for a party is lots of guests, which takes personal contact in order to bring attendance up to or surpassing your quota.

PARTY SUPPLIES GUY

He’s in charge of buying and keeping the party gear.

SUB HAT #7: PIGGY BANKER

Collect up and stash the Art Day funds in a safe place.

SUB HAT #8: THE SHOPPER

Whether you go with the red-blue-yellow basic colors of the palette, or some other creative direction, party decorations are a must. Party supply stores will yield music and some visual arts decorations. Some may have to be made out of construction paper or imagination. Buy balloons, chairs, fluttering banners and streamers, banners announcing an art day party, tables, chocolate fountains and anything else that says “art.” At my parties we’ve supplied the hot dogs, hamburgers and basic drinks to go with the potluck. Fancier parties may wish to hire caterers, or those who make artistic food. The idea is fun party decorations and food purchased within budget and delivered to the party site.

SUB HAT #9: RECORDKEEPER

Keep the receipts and any records safe, store the party decorations for next year, and keep the press book, if you have one.

MASTER OF CEREMONIES

It is in the hands of the MC to increase the art ability of the culture, one small party at a time.

SUB HAT #10: PARTY OPS (OPERATIONS)

Hangs the party decorations, signs, balloons and sets out Proclamations of Art Day by the Mayor, etc. and takes them down at the end of the party. Party Ops ensures the guests are welcomed, fed, entertained, appreciated, happy and uplifted. When this hat is successfully worn, there are delighted guests.

SUB HAT #11: DIRECTOR OF CREATIVITY

How does he fire up an artist’s creativity? He encourages artists of any discipline to wear their hat, such as a visual artist, dancer, writer, poet, musician, flower arranger, gourmet chef, and so on. He directs projects that help promote the tradition of Art Day (such as mailing Happy Art Day cards to consulates, or putting together poetry books and handing them out in the neighborhood.) He has arts and crafts for children to do, including those, such as coloring an Art Day coloring book, that let the children know there is now a holiday for the arts, Art Day, second Friday in August. He educates people on the valuable role of the artist as a creative cultural leader. His job well done would mean parents wanting their children to go for a higher calling than doctor or lawyer — they should be proud to be among those rare and beautiful creatives, the artists.

SUB HAT #12: DIRECTOR OF ARTIST APPRECIATION

This could well be the most important hat of the entire party. I learned about this from a fellow who ran a weekly arts group called Creative Artists Forum for Expansion, or C.A.F.E. At the group, after going around the room finding out what each of us did in the arts, measuring our productivity against the week before, and stating plans for art production in the coming week, we’d share our art with the rest. Bruce Gilham, Sr., was the best at admiring artists and their works. What you say matters after an artist presents their soul-wrought poem, their imaginative story, their visual vision or their heart-felt song. What would you like to hear after your presentation? You don’t want syrupy false praise; you don’t want scathing criticism; you don’t want to be brushed over by the Master of Ceremonies who goes right on to the next act without so much as a “thank you.” Just the fact that you are asking guests to bring and present their art carries a certain amount of appreciation, whether they are knee-knocking novices or consummate pros. Give them a “Wow that was great!” (if it was) or “Very impressive!” (if it was) or “Well done!” You get the idea. It is best to put this hat on someone who can truly see the creative intent and beauty in just about any art. The person should love his art “live and fresh,” meaning unfiltered and unprocessed by popular media and entertainment outlets. At a party, you may have guests at the top of their game, or budding artistic overtures. The goal here is that each and every artist knows their art and their artistic efforts are welcome, enjoyed and valuable.

HAPPY CAMPERS DUDE

This is someone with an eye to quality control, who fixes what needs to be fixed, and who rewards what’s going right.

SUB HAT #13: OVERSEER

This person would notice that someone mistakenly put the giant penis art in the middle of the children’s crafts area. He would spot artists who aren’t currently creating but who want to be. He sees where all is well, but notes where there is room for improvement. He goes for a smooth-sailing party.

SUB HAT #14: THE FIXER

He’s the one you’d send to move the giant penis art out of the children’s area, or to troubleshoot the non-arting artist. He’ll bring the party back on the rails.

SUB HAT #15: PATTER ON THE BACK

There’s nothing like putting something in writing to make it so. This person would go for getting an Art Day Proclamation from the local Mayor, on the basis that their town should honor Art Day as it is home to many wonderful artists. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I have received written praise of Art Day from a fine arts school with over 20 locations, from a US Congressman and, by email, from several in other countries. Last year at my Art Day party, I gave a pat on the back to those who helped me greatly over the years by giving them Certificates of Appreciation in cool Art Day canvas tote bags. There may be stellar achievements of artists or patrons or supporters at the party, which should be touted in front of all the guests. Champion Art Day. Champion those involved in the arts.

HOSTESS AND HELPERS

Greet the guests and make them feel as welcome as family, for you are among the largest single family on earth, outside of the family of Man — the global family of artists of all disciplines.

SUB HAT #16: PR AND MEDIA

Let the world know about Art Day and, specifically, artists participating in Art Day. One year, an article in the local paper mentioned 7 artists at my party. This is good publicity. If you have a clever PR person, they will find ways to publicize artists by utilizing their involvement in Art Day festivities, social activities and events. Document your party by inviting a photographer and a press release writer. Keep a press book. You want the word spread about this super-cool holiday and those fabulous artists who observe it.

SUB HAT #17: SIGNER-INNER

Have people sign in so you can contact them, such as to survey them to improve the party for the next year or to invite them again. Encourage them to share their art. The Sign-In sheet can not only collect contact info, but can ask what they do in the arts or for their favorite branch of the arts. Signing one’s name and writing down one’s art form can be empowering, especially to novice talent needing nurturing. A further step, if you invite the whole town like I do, is to make a nametag for each one, also with their arts specialty. Nametags can enable like-minded disciplines to engage in conversation, and lends itself to being a party where the arts are freely discussed. A friend of mine didn’t dare admit he was a visual artist to those at the corporation where he did computer programming, but he’d open up among others with the finer sensibilities. Many folks have painted a little but don’t consider themselves an artist. Let them know that anyone who has done art is an artist. We want welcomed, logged-in guests who are, with a light touch, recognized, acknowledged and appreciated for their role in the arts.

SUB HAT #18: MAGIC PICTURE FRAME

Santa, for the arts, takes on a new square look. Think of a large, ornate picture frame minus the painting — a horn-of-plenty which pours out gifts of art or art supplies. He can be an idea or a real physical frame, perhaps with added eyes and eyebrows.

There is a gift-giving side to Art Day which is designed to bring funding into the arts. Whether it is giving baskets of art, sharing theatre tickets, exchanging hand-made art or a collector buying a painting for himself, art changes hands on Art Day. There is a magical side to Art Day, because an artist, using imagination, creates something from nothing. (If you don’t like the word “magic,” then think “spiritual,” as in celebrating The Creator who bestowed us all with creativity in His image. The true magic of Art Day comes from the motivating force of creativity within us, a spiritual quality that we make manifest with our art works.)

In essence, the Magic Picture Frame is for kids. A favorite at my party is the Art Hunt, which is like an Easter Egg hunt, except we hide art supplies, small art, CD’s, books, videos, statues, and so forth. I take the kids aside and explain to them that each year the Magic Picture Frame hides art for the kids, and the story becomes as embellished as time is needed to complete the task. Yes, make it up as you go along. Each child is given a basket, or a cool Art Day tote bag, and they are sent out to forage for art in the garden.

People can be deputized as Art Day Ambassadors by the Magic Picture Frame (or the PR person.) I asked a gal, headed for a school reunion in the Philippines, to tell at least 5 people about Art Day, which she did. Even those who can’t make it to the party can celebrate Art Day in their own way wherever they are, and can let others know the holiday exists. It is a sincere wish of the Magic Picture Frame that every civilization on planet Earth celebrates their arts, creativity and culture on the same day each year, Art Day, the second Friday in August, a day of global peace and happiness. (Or at least that weekend.)

Have a Happy Art Day!