With a frenzy of sales and gobs of interest in its artists, jotta’s recent DEVOUR exhibition at the Affordable Art Fair opened the floodgates for its exhibitors to become coveted names in the art world.
DEVOUR showcased the work of 20 recent graduates in Battersea Park from March 10 to 13. The exhibition’s location next to the venue’s entrance ensured that each of the more than 20,000 attendees could marvel at DEVOUR’s collection. DEVOUR also had a relaxed and calm atmosphere in contrast with the busy, chaotic feel of the rest of the art fair. Visitors could stroll through DEVOUR’s spacious exhibition and absorb the varied works, from large scale sculpture, including a mirrored bear, to video installations, prints, photographs and paintings.
Note: Originally published on jotta on March 22, 2011
As the clock winds through the hours, the efdeay collective hosts Tic Toc, a pop-up shop featuring prints made by artists in only 24 hours. The collective includes jotta members Andrew Thorpe, Andy Ainger, Joe Baglow, Ross Bennett and Sean Fitzpatrick. The shop’s opening hours run for only four days for 24 hours total starting March 17.
How did efdeay get started? What is the relationship between its five members (Andy, Joe, Ross, Sean and Andrew)?
Sean Fitzpatrick: EFDEAY started through rebellion really. And call us rebels, but we think of ourselves more like mavericks. It started through a mutual yearning to be doing something different other than coursework, where we could experiment without constraint, produce work that sometimes had no meaning and did not have to be backed up by that dreaded thing research.
Note: Originally published on jotta on March 17, 2011
Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11 killed thousands and left many thousands more missing, the disaster has inspired the creative community to action, using the tools they know best. From Japanese-themed cake sales to t-shirts and prints, artists and designers are rallying fast to raise awareness and donations for the relief effort in Japan.
See how the creative community is helping the rescue and relief efforts in Japan, check out these organisations and events.
Note: Originally published on jotta on March 17, 2011
Ben Buckley’s dreamlike landscapes mix elements of ancient and modern societies as well as bold colours to allow the viewer to amend the environment with their own imagination. His technique of painting without a brush further distorts the reality of his work. Buckley, a 2009 graduate of Camberwell College of Art, was one of 20 artists to exhibit with jotta’s DEVOUR exhibition at this year’s Affordable Art Fair.
Your work brings together old world buildings with modern signs and advertising. Could you tell us about the use of Indian iconography and Japanese architecture?
I enjoy the contrast between traditional and contemporary architecture and modern Western advertising, particularly Japanese and Indian. The neon signs that sit atop thatched houses in my work for me is a really interesting image.
Note: Originally published on jotta on March 15, 2011
As a painter of space and colour, Slade School of Fine Art graduate Nina Royle attempts to capture her own experience in the world using architectural elements. Influences from her extensive travels in India and her native Cornwall are reflected in her work, as she draws on the stability of architecture to create a framework when harnessing her surroundings. Royle is exhibiting with jotta as part of DEVOUR at the Affordable Art Fair from March 10.
Using architecture in her paintings allows Royle the freedom to pin down ideas that are both abstract and difficult. She describes a blank canvas as a “plot of land” – a space where she can build upon her own ideas. Line, colour and form make up the building blocks of Royle’s canvas where she makes abstract ideas tangible. Each of these elements represents a larger idea that has developed as a result of her spatial experience.
Note: Originally published on jotta on March 12, 2011
Growing up close to the Alps may seem like a fairytale, but for Tobias Wootton this enchanting setting sparked inspiration for his later photographic explorations. With German background and Scottish schooling, Wootton is widely exhibited across Europe. In an era plagued by CGI, his images encourage viewers to question what is real and what is artificial. Wootton will be exhibiting with jotta as part of DEVOUR at Battersea Park from Thursday March 10th.
In a time when computer-generated imagery (CGI) is so prevalent, how do your landscapes make the viewer question what is real versus what is unreal?
In an early series of mine, I illuminated whole landscapes at night for the camera, and most people would not believe it was not digitally generated. That bothered me, because I felt the image was more important than how it was made. In my recent work I just take a straight photograph of a scenery, and still a lot of people are not sure whether it’s real, a model, a montage or a 3D rendering.I find it interesting, that over the past decade, we have become so accustomed to artificially generated imagery, that we now seem to no longer trust photographs of ”real” scenes. Through my work I am interested in finding out what the parameters for the real and the unreal in captured images are in order to evoke the artificial in the real.
Note: Originally published on jotta on March 3, 2011
Given the ever-changing landscape of social media, which includes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, finding the best form of social media—matched to organizational resources and goals—is vital in connecting with an audience, according to experts at Massachusetts nonprofits.
Before launching a presence on social media, an organization must figure out how much time and how many resources it can dedicate, said Charles Howe, the online giving coordinator at Boston-based Partners in Health (PIH). By figuring out early on what resources an organization can commit, nonprofits will have a better idea what types of social media work best for them, he said.
“Like many organizations, we are in a constant process of figuring out what works well for us,” Howe added.
PIH, which works to bring modern health care to poor communities in a dozen countries, saw its popularity on social media platforms soar after January’s earthquake in Haiti. Prior to the earthquake, the PIH Facebook page had about 8,000 “fans,” said Howe. Today, PIH’s page has more than 60,000 fans. Facebook users become a “fan” of an organization’s page to receive updates and photos on their own newsfeed. Becoming a fan of an organization also allows users to comment on anything PIH posts on its page and interact with fellow fans.
Currently, PIH has limited itself to gaining a strong foothold on both Facebook and Twitter before expanding to other forms of social media. To do so, PIH updates its Facebook and Twitter pages at least one to two times a day, said Howe.
The difficult part of these forms of social media is its constantly-changing nature, he said. Twitter and Facebook work on timeline features, meaning the most recent posts are seen first when a user logs into their account. The danger with this feature is that someone who only checks their Twitter account at night might not see something PIH posted earlier in the day, said Howe.
David West, the online community and communications specialist at PIH, said social media allows his organization to “unpack” information for its audience. He said PIH’s six-month report featuring the organization’s relief work in Haiti since the earthquake will be unpacked into smaller pieces so that fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, can read it at their own pace.
More Forgiving than Email
West said social media is “a much more forgiving environment than email.” With email subscriptions, West said, PIH would send the six-month report in its entirety to subscribers. With the aid of social media, PIH pulls out pieces of the report and posts relevant information on its pages so as to not overwhelm its audience with too much information at once.
Nora Ganim Barnes, director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, recently published a report on how nonprofit organizations nationwide use social media. She examined how the nation’s largest 200 organizations charities use social media and found that charities are using social media at a higher level than businesses or academia.
Of those 200 nonprofits, 97% use some form of social media. The motivation behind nonprofits building a social media presence is mainly financial, said Barnes. Nonprofits seek ways to communicate that did not cost a lot of money, so they turn to free social media outlets, she said. When she started examining social media and charities three years ago, 25% of the organizations Barnes studied were not involved with social media; today, that number has shrunk to only 3%.
“Social media is very user-friendly and does not have a huge learning curve,” said Barnes.
Although her studies focused on some of the nation’s largest charities, Barnes said the same logic in social media applies to smaller organizations. She outlined three steps a nonprofit organization of any size should take to be successful.
For some smaller organizations, the path to a successful presence on social media is not always clear.
“I don’t know if our social media is helping yet, but we’re setting a platform for the future,” said Margaret Nupp, director of special events and public relations at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts/Metrowest, located in Framingham and Worcester.
Although Nupp spearheads most of the organization’s social media, she said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts/Metrowest could increase its online presence if a full-time staff member were dedicated to this area. Currently, the organization has about 10 staff members and covers 40 towns and cities. While social media is important to have, it is not a priority with the limited resources the organization has, said Nupp. Eventually, Nupp said, she would like to see the organization’s page full of interaction among its fans.
Debra Foley, a marketing specialist at Springfield-based United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV), said her organization also faces difficulties with resources.
“We need the time and money to provide for a part- or full-time person who can focus on devoting attention to different social media outlets,” Foley said.
To learn more about opportunities available through social media, Foley said staff at UWPV attended a conference held for United Ways of New England on how to engage an audience in social media. After the conference, UWPV set up a framework for its social media presence, focused primarily on its Facebook page. While UWPV’s page reaches many of its donors, volunteers, and staff, Foley said the organization faces challenges in engaging more fans and providing valuable content to reach them.
Quality Is What Matters
Susan Countryman, director of communications and development at the Public Conversations Project (PCP) in Watertown, said it does not matter what social media outlet an organization chooses to use or how frequently it updates these outlets; what matters more is the quality of what is posted.
Simply updating a page or posting new content just for the sake of doing it will not help an organization’s efforts, she said. What is necessary, she added, is quality content that will circulate among the organization’s core audience and attract a more viewers.
“If you post content that is meaningful and valuable, people will react and respond,” she said.
When PCP first launched its blog in the fall of 2009, PCP staff did not think it was practical to have just one person working on the blog as a full-time position, Countryman said. Instead, PCP asked members of its staff, interns, and guest writers to prepare entries every few weeks so the voices present on the blog constantly change. This switching of voices and perspectives is reflective of PCP’s mission to bring together a wide range of views and voices.
When dealing with the public, it is important “to remember the social part of social media,” said Sofiya Cabalquinto, manager of media relations at the Museum of Science in Boston. The best way to keep an audience engaged and active on social media platforms is to provide information people want, she said. For example, before a recent meteor shower, the museum updated its Facebook page with details.
“You need to stay on top of what the audience is looking for,” said Cabalquinto. “It’s hard because that changes a lot.”
Cabalquinto said the museum is now interested in reaching out to the public on Foursquare, a location-based social networking site that allows users to update their current location and earn points based on where they are. Though the museum does not have any deals with the site yet, Cabalquinto said she is eager to join this relatively new social media platform.
A number of Massachusetts nonprofits have turned to special license plates for supplemental revenue, but while the tags can generate a steady source of new funds, organizations need to appeal to a broad audience – and be prepared to market hard.
Consider the Cape and Islands plate—featuring Nauset Light in Eastham and the cliffs of Siasconset in Nantucket and Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard—which raises an average of $1.2 million each year to support the economy of the Cape and Islands.
The program is a great way for a nonprofit to receive funding, but organizations wishing to apply for a special plate must first understand what is in store, said Paul Rumul, chairman of the Cape Cod and Islands License Plate Committee.
He should know. Since that plate was launched in 1996—93 years after the first license plate was issued in Massachusetts—Rumul’s group has issued more special plates than any other organization, raising more than $17 million.
“In order to be successful, you need to appeal to a large audience statewide,” according to Rumul.
One of the most crucial elements of any license plate campaign is its marketing, said Rumul. His organization has a designated marketing team that works to build awareness about the product all over the state. Each year, his team uses a $100,000 budget to market the license plate through online advertisements, radio commercials, and its Facebook page.
Rumul’s team knows it will sell plates to Cape and Island residents, but also strives to target people who live in other parts of the state but own summer homes on the Cape and Islands. Ultimately, he said, the special license plate will be seen in all areas of Massachusetts, increasing the benefits of the license plate program for organizations affected by the Cape and Islands plate.
Five different organizations working with the Cape Cod and Islands License Plate Committee. distribute the funds to nonprofits in the form of grants. Any nonprofit organization wishing to receive a grant must prove it will use the funds to improve economic development or enhance tourism on the Cape and Islands.
Though a nonprofit may have a tight-knit and dedicated base of supporters, this does not guarantee the license plate program will be beneficial, according to Rumul. Organizations that reach a wider audience and can appeal to drivers from western Massachusetts to the tip of the Cape are more likely to gain large revenue from the program, he said.
One in Every 22 Cars Has a Special Plate
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) offers 18 special license plates. There are approximately 222,326 registered special plates in the state, said Ann Dufrense, a spokeswoman for the RMV, which means that about one out of every 22 of the 4.8 million cars registered in the state sports a special plate.
Given that, on average, about 11,200 of each plate have been issued, the Cape and Islands plate has been especially successful, with more than 48,300 issued to date. Next most successful has been the Red Sox/Jimmy Fund plate with about 42,600 issued.
To obtain a special plate, nonprofits should follow the RMV’s list of criteria that can be found on its website by clicking here. The criteria, created under a 2002 law, require the organization to post a $100,000 bond and collect applications and a $40 fee from 1,500 customers before the plate can be manufactured. Before taking these steps, any organization interested in applying for a special plate should meet with a representative from the RMV to discuss the process in detail.
Once the plate is manufactured, 1,500 more must be sold within the first two years, so that the total number of plates reaches at least 3,000. Organizations may also collect 3,000 signatures in place of the $100,000 bond.
According to the RMV’s website, drivers pay $90 every two years to have a special plate. Initially, the RMV collects a portion of the first payment, but subsequent renewal fees go directly to the nonprofit organization.
Since 2003, the Massachusetts Animal Coalition (MAC) has raised approximately $678,000 from its special plate with close to 8,000 plates issued. The coalition distributes its revenue from the license plate program as grants to organizations that spay/neuter dogs, cats, and rabbits.
Ultimately, the program has been successful for MAC, said board member Kara Holquist, but it did face challenges during the application process. The Animal Coalition plate was one of the first to be made under the 2002 law.
“Being one of the first programs to need to get the pre-orders and post the bond required some learning curve,” said Holquist
The license plate program is a lot of work, Holquist added, but organizations that represent a broad issue or cause are likely to find it beneficial.
“Fantastic Revenue Source” for Firefighter Memorial
Some special plates have a very specific purpose, but still attract thousands of drivers across the state. The Massachusetts Fallen Firefighters Memorial plate has 6,665 registered drivers. Revenue generated from this plate, which originally funded the Fallen Firefighter Memorial statue at the State House, now sustain maintenance and activities of the memorial.
“The special plates are a fantastic revenue source as well as a continual marketing campaign to bring awareness to the memorial and the brave men and women who protect residents across the Commonwealth every day,” said Melissa Hurley Sullivan, executive director of the Massachusetts Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
Other successful plates benefit from relationships between professional sports teams and nonprofit organizations. The Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics all have their logos alongside the names of nonprofit organizations on license plates. The Jimmy Fund, one of the Red Sox’s official charities for nearly 60 years, has pulled in approximately $5 million from its special license plates since 2002, said David Giagrando, director of corporate partnership at the Jimmy Fund.
This fall, the RMV will release a new version of the Jimmy Fund plate with updated letter prefixes; because all the number combinations with the current letter prefixes have been exhausted, said Giagrando. The need for more letter and number combinations shows the growing popularity of the plate, he said.
Last April, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts (GSEM) began collecting signatures for their potential special plate. The organization is teaming up with the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) to get 3,000 signatures by September 30, said Stacy Wilbur, a spokeswoman for GSEM.
“This plate could have a lasting effect on girls and the programs we want for our girls,” said Wilbur.
The organizations use Facebook and Twitter to show the more than 38,000 families involved with Girl Scouts that license plate signatures are needed, said Wilbur. The two Girl Scout organizations are joining forces for the first time with this project, she added. If they collect 3,000 signatures and manufacture the license plate, Wilbur said revenue derived from the plate will be distributed based on where the funds come from. For example, funds from plates registered to drivers in towns in central Massachusetts will benefit GSCWM.
Note: Originally published July 2010 on massnonprofit.org
Beginning in July, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley will award $30 million in grants to 160 area nonprofits, reflecting a new approach to funding based on community goals.
The funds will be distributed over three years to partner organizations that meet goals in target issue areas outlined by the United Way.
Last August, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV) outlined specific community goals and objectives for its partner organizations to follow in the areas of healthy child development, family financial stability, and increasing youth opportunities.
In the Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley region, more than 1,000 businesses and 6,000 donors contributed funding toward the United Way’s pledge of $30 million to area nonprofits. The organization is redistributing existing funds to cover this pledge.
When the United Way announced its goals and objectives last summer, more than 200 organizations in Greater Boston and Merrimack Valley were eligible to apply for funding. Various community leaders, volunteers, and donors met with United Way staff last fall to review the organizations that applied. The group evaluated each organization based on its governance, fiscal accountability, and capacity to contribute to the United Way’s long-term goals. After the review process, 160 organizations were selected as United Way partner organizations and granted three years of funding.
This year’s multi-million funding will support intervention or treatment to nearly 10,000 children at risk for behavioral issues or developmental delays, provide academic support to more than 21,500 youth, and help more than 10,000 families retain permanent housing and more than 5,000 people gain employment, according to Meghan Keaney Anderson, UWMBMV director of communications.
The grants to be made in July reflect a paradigm shift the organization made in 2007, said Anderson. A that time the United Way moved from a funding model based on historical relationships with its organizations to one which connects its funding of organizations to specific community goals and measurements. The United Way redesigned its investments proportionally to the outcomes of partner organizations.
The United Way now bases its grants to provider organizations on their ability to drive progress and meet defined sets of goals in its issue areas. This next stage in funding will help improve program quality and coordination.
“We believe that the organizations we funded are in the best position to help us make progress against our community impact goals of ensuring children enter school ready to learn, youth stay engaged in school and graduate ready to compete, and families achieve financial stability,” said Anderson.
For example, the United Way will no longer just measure the quality of after school programs in its network, but will track how many youths in programs sponsored by the organization advance from grade-to-grade, she said.
The funding “will enable the organization to bolster successful programs, adjust funding to those not reaching goals, and drive a greater impact across the region,” said UWMBMV President and CEO Michael K. Durkin in a statement.
Last year, The Boston Foundation also announced a change in the way it would provide grants, moving from a purely programmatic approach to providing grantees with general operating support.
Note: Originally published May 2010 on massnonprofit.org