by Charlotte Poulain
Hi there everyone,
I am happy to inaugurate this “Behind the Scenes” segment, in which we will regularly document HAYP’s progress and activities. You’ll find out a bit more about who we are, how we started, what we’re working on now… in short, our Behind the Scenes will serve as the travel diary for our pop up.
Glad to have you on board!
A wild idea appears!
At the beginning of every project, there is an idea. And HAYP popped up in Anna’s mind last summer, as she she was walking around Yerevan and noticed all these abandoned buildings and vacant storefronts. As a creative person, she tends to see artistic opportunities everywhere, and those empty, dusty places certainly were one for her.
Photo credit: Anna Gargarian
Our project really started at the end of October, when we came up with the name HAYP – Armenian Pop Up Gallery. Note to our non-Armenian followers: to fully appreciate the pun you have to know that “hay” is Armenian for “Armenian”.
By October 25th, Anna had a great idea, a cool name, and an overly excited French person on board (yours truly). We gained momentum as more and more people pledged to get involved. Several of our friends were interested in writing articles to feed our blog; others connected us with artists and art lovers from all over Armenia. Kohar Minassian, a gifted young film director is currently editing our promotional video; Aramazt Kalayjian from Jarakite Studios agreed to polish our logo for us.
The pressure was on, so we refined our project proposal late into the night until it was shiny and ready to be sent out to the entire world.
In the first two weeks of November, we met dozens of artists, benefactors and professionals in various fields, and pitched the Pop Up gallery to literally everyone we bumped into. It’s been great to see so many people excited by the idea, and wanting to get involved in the project.
Things usually get serious when the money talk begins. How much would this cost, and where would we find all the drams / dollars / euros necessary to make our Pop Up dream a reality? More importantly, how could we make our Pop Up gallery a sustainable project in the long run?
We foresee three major expenses :
1) Costs for the space. That includes the renovation expenses (cleaning, re-painting the walls), and the exhibition expenses such as lights, wall hangings, and display elements. Depending on the space, we may also need a generator for electricity, and space heaters or heating lamps.
2) The art. We want to be able to cover some of the material costs for the artist, and also have an honorarium for the artist(s) who participate in our exhibitions.
3) Marketing costs. Of course all of those efforts would be pointless if nobody were to show up to our Pop Up. So our marketing costs would include printing (flyers, posters, business cards) and other communication expenses such as filming or photography to document the project.
Of course, the costs are cheaper in Armenia than, say, in Paris. But the budget is still considerable.
We needed to work on establishing a precise budget – that part was both exhilarating and exhausting. On a sunny Saturday afternoon two weeks ago, Anna and I engaged in what can only be described as hardware shop crawling, comparing prices for drills, paint, brushes, generators, extension plugs and space heaters. The shop owners seemed slightly confused by the two foreign girls awkwardly trying to explain in Armenian what they were up to. As usually happens over here, some of them were genuinely keen on helping us, while others tried to rip us off or dismissed us completely. But at the end of the day, we had managed to create a beautiful excel table with all the prices listed, and we had also added several useful armenian words to our vocabulary. Multi-plug, wood pannel, plaster.
Many of the items on our list would not only be used for our first pop up, but for the following exhibitions as well.
We don’t want our Pop up to be just a one-time attraction; we want it to be sustainable, to last, grow and expand – even beyond Yerevan at some point. So we worked on establishing…
A sustainable Pop Up business model
How could we make our Pop Up sustainable?
We had several options for funding: we could look for sponsors, apply for various grants, start a crowdfunding campaign…
Our ultimate goal was for our Pop Up gallery to be self-sustainable. Many Pop Ups around the world are efficiently financed by sponsors – mainly local and international corporations concerned with corporate social responsibility. For example, in 2013, Martini sponsored a pop up at Milan’s Design Week in order to celebrate their 150 year anniversary. They created an exclusive event and provided drinks, DJset, and performance, and successfully promoted themselves as lovers of the Arts and Design.
Here in Yerevan, the many events hosted at our Pop Up throughout its 10 days of existence would constitute a great opportunity for a local brand to associate themselves with a young and artsy crowd.
We know that a one-time grant, or a crowdfunding campaign are not sustainable in the long run. However, those two financing options will definitely give us a head start to purchase initial equipment, and set up and promote our first exhibition, that will help us attract sponsors for our future exhibitions.
The power of the crowd and the latino-canadian boost
Some of you may have heard of crowdfunding before – but let me explain briefly. As the name suggests, crowdfunding describes the process of financing a project by the crowd (you, me, our friends and neighbours, and people around the world) through the internet. Basically, the project description is uploaded on a crowdfunding platform (Kickstarter and Indiegogo being the most famous ones), and anyone who likes the project can make a donation (from 1$ to… much more) to make it happen.
Crowdfunding has allowed awesome ideas to become realities, in all walks of life: humanitarian causes, local businesses, art projects, films and books. A girl opened a “cafe des chats” in Paris last year thanks to the hundreds of cat-lovers who backed her idea with small donations. The Acopian Center for the Environment recently raised 30,000 dollars to buy the scientific equipment necessary to test the impact of mining pollution in Armenia. Some guy even gathered $55,000 to make a potato salad… Of course, for all these success stories, there are always the projects that somehow don’t manage to get a single pledge, a.k.a our worst nightmare. But it won’t happen to us.
We were lucky enough to welcome the fantastic Oscar to our team two weeks ago. Oscar had had previous experience in crowdfunding and offered precious advice on the do’s and don’ts of running a successful campaign. He also added his awesome social media skills to our team, not to mention his fine taste in liqueur.
Together, we decided that a crowdfunding campaign was our best shot for launching a successful first Pop Up gallery by mid-december. We don’t need a crazy amount of money; we have an original idea that has a lot of public appeal. By running a crowdfunding campaign, we hope to both attract the public eye, and secure funds for setting up our first pop up exhibition. This first exhibition will then serve as an entry ticket to various funders and sponsors.
From personal experience, and extensive googling on the topic, we found out that crowdfunding campaigns with a video presentation are more likely to reach their funding goal than those without. As we obviously want to reach our goal, we shot a crowdfunding video last week with the help of our friend Kohar Minassian, at the Tumo Center for Creative Technology (thanks Tumo!) – the video shoot will be the topic of my next article.
Last thursday, we attended a conference on Crowdfunding at the American University in Armenia (AUA), during which Oscar seized the opportunity to present HAYP and our upcoming campaign. That same night, our social media accounts were up and running (and if you haven’t yet, I strongly encourage you to follow us on Twitter and Facebook).
We decided to launch our crowdfunding campaign on Monday, November 24th.
That’s this monday – we have a busy weekend ahead of us. Our campaign will be short (and efficient… we hope), as our first exhibition is scheduled to start on Friday, December 12.
EDIT [26/11] OUR INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN IS UP: http://igg.me/at/HAYP
Our next Behind the Scenes article will pop up next week as well… so stay tuned !