Assemble’s tips and tricks for dealing with the everyday tasks associated with doing all of this
Running an art gallery, a community space, and an afterschool program all at once is a lot to deal with! And even if you only want to do just one of these things, there are some very real practicalities you’re going to have to deal with: recruiting kids to register for your program, or balancing your vision with the resources at hand, or just making sure everyone gets to eat! This section offers some practical tips and tricks for how Assemble deals with these everyday tasks that keep the engine humming.
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What happens when nobody shows up? Well, you can have a lot of fun assembling by yourself...but seriously the point is to get people (and especially kids) through the door and into your space so they can start assembling with you. That's not just going to happen all by itself. You'll need to put your promoter hat on and leave it on most of the time (we know, it's getting crowded up there).
If you do one thing, make a flyer, print as many as you possibly can, and never stop handing it out. Put a handful in your bag and take them with you wherever you go. Tack them up and leave behind (with permission) in neighborhood spaces. Use them to strike up conversations with people. Send people on their way with a flyer to put up on their fridge at home. Hand them a second flyer to give to their neighbor across the way. (If you're new to the flyer game, check out our Examples of Program Flyers.)
On that same note, don't underestimate the promotional power of just talking to people—neighbors love to know what's happening and they're more happy to spread the word.
Schools are like superpowered neighbors: everybody knows them and they know everybody. If there is a school nearby, reach out to them and introduce yourself and let them know about what you're offering at your space. Ask if they have a directory of out-of-school learning spaces you can get on or if you can send flyers home to parents through the school's digital or print distribution methods.
Try This: Once you do have people in your space doing your thing, consider them a captive audience! Save a few minutes at the end of each session to promote the next session: "If you loved what you did here today, you won't want to miss next week's session when we'll blast off to Mars!"
What can we say about social media that hasn't been said? Not much! It's just a fact of life now. For many people, their entire experience of the internet happens within the confines of the social media platform of their choice, so you'll need a social media presence if you want people to find you.
At Assemble, we maintain accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We use each of these platforms differently because we know that they all have their own audiences and norms:
We make sure to share important info consistently across all three platforms, though. One of the simplest ways to create this consistency is by posting images of your daily or weekly schedule on your social media platforms. Another is to capture photos and videos from sessions you're running and posting them to show people what it's like and why they should come to the next one.
And don't forget to get the kids involved! Chances are they'll be better at creating content for the latest craze like TikTok, or whatever has replaced that by the time you're reading this.
If you have a budget for paid advertising, we'd recommend keeping things small and simple. Design, print, and mail postcards to homes in your neighborhood. Buy time on your local radio station's schedule to have your programming calendar read on the air. Buy a corner of the local newspaper or alt weekly to advertise your next gallery show.