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A recent workshop run by president of the Dorchester Art Club, Bev Stephens
A recent workshop run by president of the Dorchester Art Club, Bev Stephens

Art Club Business - ways to organise indoor practical meetings


John Grant - Posted on 01 Feb 2012

Last month in Leisure Painter, we looked at one of the most popular indoor events, demonstrations.
However, because demonstrators’ fees can be an expensive item in club budgets, their sessions are likely to be infrequent. So this month I propose to examine some of the other ways an art club committee can arrange its programme of indoor meetings.

Activity meetings

Activity meetings, when club members practise their drawing and painting skills, often form the bulk of the programme. The venue hire cost is an issue when deciding the frequency of meetings. Are these to be held monthly, fortnightly or weekly (or perhaps, like DAC - the Dorchester Art Club’s meetings, twice a week)?
And what subjects or themes will feature in the programme? A club facing financial pressures may have to review these matters frequently.


Once the number of meetings is agreed, how do you decide the content of the indoor programme?
Preferably the themes and subject matter of the meetings should be varied, decided on democratically by members, and, hopefully, members will run the meetings themselves. The committee could set a thematic framework – a rolling sequence of about six themes over six consecutive meetings: for instance, landscapes, figure drawing, still lifes, flowers, abstracts and buildings. This pattern could then be repeated throughout the season.

In DAC, our newsletter encourages members to sponsor meetings, suggest subjects and introduce or provide material for each meeting. This rolling framework aims to avoid the easy option of several members offering to sponsor still-life meetings in succession. Our current programme secretary, Jenny Dee, notes those who have recently attended meetings, and invites them to sponsor future meetings. Only if insufficient members come forward to share the burden will the programme have to be completed by the committee.
How is the running of the programme to be managed? Does a committee programme secretary or coordinator need to attend each meeting, to open the doors to the venue, and to arrange for refreshment supplies to be provided, etc? In the past, DAC has provided volunteer sponsors with a guide to these basic functions, but it is helpful if a club member experienced in arranging meetings is present to back up a nervous rookie sponsor.
Lighting (to be the subject of a separate article) is another feature of successful indoor events, since floral, abstract or figure subjects need good illumination for effective paintings. So spotlights should be available, with the use of reflectors to focus lights and shield the glare of lamps.


Workshops need experienced artists to run them, in presenting a particular technique or subject area, and in setting some form of exercise that uses it. As with tutorials (see below), if the workshop leader produces handouts to summarise the essence of a workshop theme these can be worth producing.
I plan to cover this in a future article on presentation techniques for inexperienced speakers.


Tutorials are a more elaborate form of workshop, often provided by a professional artist, sometimes in a normal two-hour meeting slot in the indoor programme, or as a one-off full-day occasion. Unlike regular activity or workshop meetings, all-day tutorials may require an extra payment from those attending to help meet the artist’s fee and expenses, and venue hire if outside the regular programme.
In some cases, a club member (who may or may not be a professional artist) might be persuaded to run a tutorial, perhaps for a reduced fee if he or she lives locally.

Other readers of Leisure Painter would be interested to hear about how your club handles its indoor meetings, so an email describing such practices would be welcome. I will include as many suggestions and ideas as space allows in future articles. Contact me at jaybgee@btinternet.com.

John offers practical advice on the smooth running of art clubs in every issue Leisure Painter.
Why not save money with a subscription and make sure you don't miss a single part of this, and all the other great series, as well as the many practical art features included in the number one learn-to-paint magazine every four weeks?

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