Sunday 25 January 2009

Post Script to McMichael Media Preview of Three Art Exhibitions

So, after reading about how the McMichael Canadian Art Collection went against traditional PR practises and staged not one but three art exhibition media previews at the very same time on the very same day, you must be wondering how it played out? Very well -- although the very unstructed nature of the event(s) called for flexibility that even I found difficult to provide.
This is what happened. The National Post did not respond to the Media Alert. Instead, a reporter from the Ottawa Citizen called the gallery and conducted a phone interview about the Brush with War exhibition. His story appeared 10 days before the media event and was picked up by a number of Canwest papers. A few days before the Media Preview, the National Post called the gallery and requested pictures from the War exhibition. Three days before the Preview, the National Post ran a two-page expanded version of the Citizen story.
The Toronto Star called to say they wanted to see the two Karsh shows. "But", they told me, "We can't wait to Thursday. We have to come out Tuesday or we won't be able to come at all." Their reporter did visit the gallery and did get to see the Karsh exhibitions ... sorta. Not all of the pictures had been framed yet and nothing was hung ... we leaned the Karsh masterpieces against the freshly painted walls at floor level to give the reporter an idea of what the show will look like by the time the Media Preview rolls around.
The Vaughan Weekly came out a half-hour early on press preview day, and left just as the event began. The Vaughan Citizen, Rogers TV, a Chinese Daily Newspaper, Beach Digital and the Globe and Mail came out on Thursday at 11 and got to meet six war artists who saw action while covering Canada's involvement in peace keeping assignments and in war time. They also got to interview the three curators of the exhibitions and take pictures of the people installing the art. And, for the first time in years we had coffee and tea thanks to he Canadian Forces.
After the Media Preview ended a TV crew from Bravo came and did a story on all three shows (we asked the curators and artists to stay for the taping). At the very end of the day North Magazine came by to take photographs of the McMichael's CEO and the gallery's new head curator.
Great turnout for the McMichael even if they went, as usual, against Weir's rules for when to hold a press event.