For the first time open house – Toby Mason (Colour Laine)

Preparation – the more you put in, the more you get out!

  • Plan the space that you are going to use to exhibit – wall space, floor space, garden, etc. Think about “gallery” but also the space as your home – important to get the balance right.
  • Cordon off areas that you don’t want visitors to get too – buy rope/ribbon/hooks.
  • Take time to clear out furniture (storage?), non-exhibition artwork, make good walls, hoover and clean. If you have young children, perhaps plan some days/weekends away with friends or relatives!
  • If you will be using your garden, make it look attractive – tidy and sweep, think about covering/waterproofing, chairs, table, deckchairs, etc.
  • Organise your exhibits – frame pictures, etc, have everything ready in plenty of time.
  • Co-ordinate with others exhibiting – think about curating the space in an interesting way – themes, colours, etc. Also agree on costs, and spread of expenses in advance. Agree in advance time commitments to setting up and closing up, also time manning the exhibition.
  • Flyers to deliver to local houses and businesses – some shops are happy to take flyers and help promote your house. Encourage your local community to come along – great way of meeting neighbours and generating a feel-good atmosphere on your street!
  • Think about signage to go down your street – anything to help draw people in.
  • Buy cash box, cash book, receipt book, and think about setting up for card payments “SumUp” also donates to AOH. Do you need business cards, paper bags, anything else for displays?
  • Think about clear pricing for your work – beside work, plus on info sheets. Plan info sheets to have beside entrance, explaining what you are exhibiting and perhaps explaining about techniques and you as an artist – make personal. Perhaps make an exhibition space “map”.


  • Plan any food and drinks – soft drinks, teas and coffees, savouries and cakes. Not obliged to offer anything, although it can be a good way of making visitors feel at home, and stay longer. Will you charge, or have suggested donations?
  • Arrange public liability insurance, go to
  • Plan any private view or events – can promote on AOH website. Are there any other places that you can promote your AOH?
  • Email invites to friends and family and contacts. Set up a FB event – invite everyone!
  • Try to have your house ready a day or so in advance, so that you have time to adjust and have the finishing touches done so that you can relax before the doors open.
  • Prepare yourself and your family for living with a little chaos for the next four weeks!


During the weekends

  • Very important to welcome visitor, and break down the barriers – some visitors are well versed and comfortable, others are nervous about coming in. Say hello, introduce yourself and your work, but don’t be too pushy – read people and get the balance right. Think about the best ways of encouraging people in through your front door.
  • Think about social media – Facebook for events and the weekends in general, Twitter – use hashtags for AOH and your own house (e.g. #ColourLaine), or trail (e.g. #CentralTrail), Instagram for pictures, encourage visitors to use hashtags and mention your name. Show snapshots of areas –to whet the appetite!
  • Make time to visit other AOHs – gain ideas and inspiration, then you can recommend others, and also be recommended by those other houses.
  • Remember to allow time for eating – it can be good to eat breakfast out of the house, to take stock before the day. And lunchtimes are often busy, but ensure someone is charged with fetching lunch for everyone, or everyone has a lunch break slot.

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