I am working on developing a program modeled on Your Art Here (YAH) to place art on (billboards, buses, buildings, etc.).
Glad to hear it! Here is a list of frequently asked questions we’ve received over the years about Your Art Here. We’re not actively trying to establish organizations in other locations but we hope these answers will be of some use.
How would we get started?
Just come up with some ideas and do it! Our recommendation is to spend your time wisely. If your focus is putting up art in public spaces then go do that. If you want to be an organization then make that your priority.
Do you lease billboard space or do you own billboards? Both?
There are three YAH (community-run) billboard spaces, which are the most actively used because they are free. We lease commercial spaces for special or one-time projects. We leased billboards (usually about 8) for our kids art Billboard Generation project in addition to installing art on our community-run billboards.
How much does it cost to put up a billboard?
For the three billboards we own the only cost is for printing. Depending on the billboard, each image on outdoor vinyl is ~$200, which the artist pays and then keeps the image after the exhibition for whatever they like. This is relatively inexpensive when you compare it to the cost of making an archival photograph and mounting and framing it for a gallery exhibition that only a limited number of people will see.
What is your annual budget (expense and revenue)?
We are completely volunteer so our budget is dedicated to projects and comes from grants or donations (in-kind or cash). Occasionally we hold a rock concert, carnival, or art auction to raise funds for specific projects.
Do billboard owners provide nonprofit rates?
It varies. One local company gave us a discounted rate (half-off) but we sometimes needed to remind them of this. They were touchy if there was political content or we used sponsor logos with the art. Larger companies in Indianapolis have given us nonprofit rates while others there have completely ignored our requests.
How many display locations do you have?
The number of display locations depends on the project and our financial resources. For instance, our Mass Ave project always has just 2 display locations because we have 2 places in Indianapolis that offer us the billboard space for free. Our kids art project, Billboard Generation, on the other hand, varied depending on the entries we received. We currently have 3 locations (2 in Indianapolis and 1 in Bloomington) that are always available for billboard display.
How is art solicited?
A call for art will go out over email (we have a mailing list), we post it on our web site, and we post it to as many public online calendars as we can (the Bloomington area has some good online event calendars that we make use of). We also send press releases to local media (newspapers, radio stations). This tends to drum up at least a mention, if not an interview. We used to flyer around Bloomington too, but that doesn’t seem to have an impact worth the cost of the flyers. Facebook events are kind of the new flyering – we make use of that a lot. We’ll send the event to Facebook users who have joined our Facebook YAH group and to our friends on our personal lists. This spreads the word quite quickly.
How is it selected?
We always try to have a list of criteria for judging artwork that is entered for a project. Especially when there are a lot of entries, this helps keep us focused. For ongoing projects like Mass Ave that don’t always have a theme or focus, we take entries on a case-by-case basis and decide if they will work in the space and fit into the schedule. There are always certain things that have to be considered for billboards – will viewers notice and understand the billboard when flying by at 65 mph and from up to 500 ft. away? That’s always a big point to consider with any billboard.
Is selection done by an individual or a committee?
Selections are always made by a committee of some kind. Sometimes the committee has been the 3 of us running the organization (prior to having a Board), other times we have invited curators. We try to always have active artists involved and people who are familiar with the organization and the project.
How many works are received each year?
When we held Billboard Generation we received individual entries from children in several art classes in the Monroe County school system every year. We received over 500 entries from kids last year alone. Beyond that, our calls for other projects can generate 30+ entries and sometimes only 5 or so. It varies based on a number of things (how well we do PR, other art projects happening in the area, time of year, etc).
How many works are displayed each year?
The kids art project will have 4-8 billboards per year, split between Bloomington and Indianapolis. Mass Ave in Indy will have 2 pieces displayed each month from April – October so that’s 14 billboards. Billboard 101 is our free space in Bloomington which hasn’t been changed out quite as regularly but is approaching the same schedule as Mass Ave, so about another 5 billboards are displayed in that space per year. Any other projects are dependent on our funding and the goal of the project, so we have had 5-10 other pieces displayed in the form of campaign yard signs and bus advertising displays (external and internal) in previous years. So a good average is about 20-25 works displayed per year, but the format and number vary.
Are some pieces displayed in more than one location?
We have had at least one instance where the same piece was made into 2 billboards and displayed in Bloomington and Indianapolis. We have not created multiple copies of the same artist billboard and displayed them in the same town, though.
How long is the art displayed?
During the spring, summer, and fall months we tend to change out the free billboard spaces once a month. When winter comes and the weather turns cold and it would be uncomfortable or dangerous to be scaling buildings, we put up a billboard in each free space and leave those until the spring. It’s not a perfect schedule because it doesn’t give a fair showing to every piece, but it’s the safest way for us to work.
What are the dimensions of Billboard 101?
Length: 24 ft. for one image or 12 ft. for two images
Height: 10 ft.