There’s an art to promoting an arts town, and the Cannon Beach Gallery Group is looking for someone with that skill.
For eight years, professional event organizer Bonnie Gilchrist, of Lake Oswego, worked with gallery owners in the Gallery Group to promote the group’s two annual events, Spring Unveiling and Plein Air. She also assisted the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce in organizing the Stormy Weather Arts Festival.
But Gilchrist retired this year, and the group is seeking someone who demonstrates the art of promoting the arts. The application deadline is Thursday, Nov. 15. Check the Gallery Group’s website for details.
“We’re looking for someone who really knows PR, who is good with writing and can promote Cannon Beach as an arts town,” said Jane Brumfield, co-owner of Imprint Gallery.
Where the person lives isn’t as important as their knowledge of and interest in Cannon Beach.
“It’s more important that it’s the right person than where they live,” said group President Jeffrey Hull, painter and gallery owner.
Allyn Cantor, owner of White Bird Gallery, agreed.
“Portland, or Seattle doesn’t matter,” she said. “For a lot of people, this is their ‘spot.’”
‘We all help each other’
Gilchrist said she enjoyed working with gallery owners, meeting artists and forming lifelong friendships in the community. She also appreciated the freedom to expand the two festivals and bring more visitors to Cannon Beach.
But there were challenges, too, including working with different personalities, gleaning information on deadline from busy gallery owners, establishing relationships with distant editors and working within the city’s restrictive sign ordinance that prohibits event banners.
The new Earth & Ocean Arts Festival next September, which will replace Plein Air, presents more challenges, Gilchrist said.
“Creating and promoting a ‘new’ festival will take a lot of work, as it will have to be carefully crafted to appeal to the demographic that includes art buyers (and) collectors,” she added.
It will take a person who can deal with the diversity of arts represented in the group’s 11 galleries. They include printmakers, jewelry designers, painters, sculptors, photographers, and blown and fused glass artists.
While the Gallery Group, a nonprofit business association, includes a diversity of arts and artists, there’s more cooperation than competition among the galleries, Hull said.
“Maybe it sounds idealistic, but I do think we all help each other, just by being here, being successful,” Hull said.
A go-to place for art
For several years after Spring Unveiling started in 2001, the gallery owners organized the event themselves while still running their businesses. But the event grew to include receptions and artist demonstrations in nearly every gallery and musical venue in town.
Then, they added Plein Air 10 years ago.
“We grew too big for our britches,” Hull said. “I think there was a measure of burnout that took place.”
By then, the city’s Tourism and Arts Commission started allocating lodging taxes to nonprofit-sponsored events that attracted visitors. Those funds enabled the Gallery Group to pay Gilchrist. The budget for the new coordinator, including salary and expenses, is $20,000.
The Gallery Group’s goal is to remind people that Cannon Beach is the go-to place for art.
“We’ve got such high-quality art in this town for such a small town, and we have the backdrop of the natural beauty to match it, Cantor said. “And it’s a friendly place to come — it’s not pretentious — to look for art,” Cantor said.