Case study
Running an arts festival using no-code

An arts organisation reap the benefits of no-code platforms for managing their content.

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An art festival with numerous live events happening and a regularly-updated online gallery needs some serious content management. For Peninsula School of Art, turning to no-code solutions has made running their website, and updating info in real time, a whole lot easier. 

The business

The Peninsula School of Art, based in Wisconsin, is an independent non-profit dedicated to nurturing the visual arts. Every year, the school puts on the Door County Plein Air Festival: a celebration of the country’s best outdoor painters. It features events where painters come and paint, and an online hub where visitors can look at (and purchase) their beautiful work. Each year, around 40 artists create and share around 5-10 of their pieces. On the festival’s website, you can find out about the artists, their creative process and key details about the work they’re creating during the festival. That adds up to a fair bit of information and a large amount of content to manage.

This is art

The problem

The organisation has a small team dedicated to working on the event. From a content perspective, along with publicising the various happenings, they need to profile the different artists involved and info about their work before – and during – the event. The problem they faced was that the way they were receiving information was pretty laborious. Artists would typically submit info about their work via paper forms, which then had to be manually entered into a clunky organisational database. There was then no simple way for Peninsula to link that data to a website that people could access. All in all, an already busy team was having to undertake a lot of manual work.

So executive director Catherine Hoke decided it was time to change things up. There were three key areas to tackle:  

  • Data management. The organisation couldn’t keep inputting and managing the artists’ data manually as the volume of info was huge. 
  • Updating the website in real-time. Due to the nature of the week-long event and artists’ creating and uploading new pieces, it was essential that artists were able to input info and updates themselves, in real-time.
  • Creating an engaging way to display the art. They also needed a dynamic website to display all the different pieces in a unique and compelling way. To showcase the art in the best possible way.

How they tackled it 

Step 1: Finding a better way to manage their data

The first issue to solve was finding an efficient way to manage all the data without demanding hours of manual work. Catherine did some research and found out that database no-code tool Airtable seemed like a great option for her team. The power and flexibility of Airtable meant it could turn manual processes into automatic ones.

Step 2: Finding the best front-end solution

Now the data was stored and ready to be updated with the click of a button. But the team also needed a way to bring this level of automation and efficiency to their website. They needed to find a front-end tool that they could link to Airtable which allowed them to create a complex and beautiful website at the same time. That’s where website and web app no-code builder Softr came in. 

Using Softr, Catherine saw that she could use it to build a website based on Airtable data. ‘It sounded too good to be true,’ she adds. It allowed the organisation to create a connection between their Airtable data and a front-end website.

The finished product

Step 3: Using the templates at their disposal

The team chose one of the Softr templates that best suited an online gallery and made the necessary design tweaks and edits to match their own branding. Once the design was done, Catherine connected Softr with Airtable by taking advantage of its simple integration feature. After setting up this integration with just a few clicks, the website was online and ready to go.

Step 4: Presenting the new solution

In order to fix all the problems Catherine had set out, it was vital that the artists featured at the festival were able to utilise this new tech set-up and input their own updates. The Softr dashboard needed to be approachable enough for artists to be comfortable using it. Catherine presented the solution once everything was ready to roll. The artists found it intuitive and easy to use, and the Door County Plein Air Festival website was created. 

Takeaways 

It increased audience engagement

According to Catherine, the new website had a positive effect on audience engagement. The website had far more hits, with artists’ sales increasing by 15%. Patrons of the festival also provided super positive feedback about the new look of the platform – specifically how easy it was to view artworks even if they couldn’t attend the events in person.

The artists liked it too  

Catherine adds that the artists who participated in the event were impressed by how easy the submission process was. Updates were instantly reflected on the website, and there were no deadlines with complicated technical aspects to carry out. 

It has sparked ideas for more no-code projects

The team at Peninsula Art School are already planning on how to use their experiences to make this a big part of their operations. With a regular roster of events, Catherine says that she’s already thinking about how she can incorporate Softr elsewhere in the business to build intuitive, easy to manage platforms.

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