For many of us in the arts community, especially in cities that feature a wide variety of art opportunities to explore, we are often tasked with a dilemma: what is the best way to find not only events that are close to me, but also events that my friends and I will enjoy the most? As is often the case, this is where technology comes in. The New York Times reported yesterday on a group of young arts professionals in New York City who are using social media to not only find those very events that are the most appealing to them, but also to organize like-minded individuals to join them at the newest buzz-worthy art gallery opening or museum exhibit. The tools and tactics these arts professionals are using can serve as an excellent model for artists and art lovers in any city where the arts are appreciated.
For those who are looking for more targeted art opportunities, there are a number of social media outlets where you can discover more information. The first is Meetup.com, a website where millions of people have created and found scheduled events in their communities. A good section of the site to bookmark is museums.meetup.com, where you will find dozens of groups and thousands of members all across the country who meet regularly and advertise upcoming arts events. For example, here in Pittsburgh one of the many great arts groups is the Pittsburgh Cultural Arts Group, home to 550 members who organize regular arts-related events and shows.
Organizing events and participating in MeetUp activities is not only a great way to find out about upcoming shows; it also serves as a place to meet fellow arts lovers and make contacts in the arts community. Especially for those young people who are either in school or new to a particular city, MeetUp can serve as a conduit to meeting others who share their unique interests. Instead of attending that upcoming exhibit you were looking forward to alone, you know have the opportunity to share the experience with people who share your passion and interests.
So meeting and befriending fellow arts lovers is the first step. Once you have found a group of people committed to discovering the latest and hottest events, what’s next? Instead of using more general platforms like Facebook or even text messages, the young professionals profiled in the NYT piece and many others have used Twitter to share news and events not only with their friends, but with the entire world as well. They use the hashtag #artstech to promote events, share tips and/or links to more information. The great thing about this technology is that it is completely open to everyone: searching for #artstech on Twitter will show you all recent postings by anyone who tweets using that hashtag, whether you follow them on Twitter or not.
The hashtag is one of the most important tools Twitter offers, and you can tailor it to your group’s interests. Are you involved with a small group of museum lovers in Cleveland? Start using the hashtag #ClevelandMuseumLovers when tweeting about local museum events, and as more and more people view the tweet and re-tweet, the more ubiquitous it will become, especially if you have a large Twitter following (for example, one of the hashtags we use here at Technology in the Arts on our Twitter page is #TechArtsReads to share interesting stories about the intersection of arts and technology with our thousands of followers).
But perhaps the best part about using technology and social media to discover new and exciting arts opportunities and events is the ability to use these tools to facilitate and improve the offline relationships that are so important to us. Social media is merely the first important step: meeting new people and developing new contacts is integral to our personal and professional lives, and is bound to open up exciting new opportunities that may not have been available before.
With many museums, arts organizations and galleries using social media to reach out to art lovers, there has never been a better time to use some of these technology tools to better organize and share the exciting new events and opportunities in your area.
What tools do you use to learn about art events in your community, and how do you share this information with fellow arts lovers?
(Photo: CC by Emilio Santacoloma)