Behind the Scenes…What Does It Take to Put on a Quilt Show?
Premiering July 30 will be the 17th Biennial GAAQG quilt show, “Celebrating the Quilt 2022.” This two-day extravaganza highlights quilts, art, and hand-made items from guild members. What goes on behind the scenes to make this event happen?
There must be quilts to hang and people to make them. The Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild currently has 245 members, and many show more than one piece.
The quilt show committee puts in literally hundreds of hours to plan, fundraise, coordinate volunteers, advertise, position the quilt displays, plan the layout for hanging hundreds of quilts, vendor booths, lay out traffic flow, and physically put out street-corner signs.
First of all, a site must be found to hold the event. A deposit must reserve it. Then, the story must get out – advertising the show to the public is vital. For each show, someone must design a flyer and bookmark so volunteers can place them in public venues.
Each quilt show must create and print a program book that lists each quilt entry with a bit of information, and tells a little about the quilt guild and this particular quilt show. Advertisers must be contacted to place ads in the quilt show program book for a fee. Local companies may place ads with discount coupons in this book. Volunteers must hand out this program book near the entrance to the quilt show, where other volunteers may sell tickets, offer raffle tickets and hand out white gloves.
Each quilt show has a personality. Ambience helps. Ambience helps put the quilts in context to evoke an emotional response from the viewer. It shows the quilts at their best, and, just as in a movie, pulls viewers into the story. It groups like-colored quilts together, or ones with similar designs, or ones from a particular era. “Props” just as in a stage play are placed near the quilts – a doll or doll house, a stuffed animal, a book of poetry on a desk. Holiday lights or ornaments, household, gardening, or farm tools, floral arrangements and greenery, or vintage items set the mood. Just as a good movie pulls viewers in, grabs them, and sends them back or forward in time, so does a good quilt show.
Fundraising is done throughout the year. Members literally put the pedal to the metal to create beautiful quilts, wall hangings, layettes, and fancy linens for kitchen and bath. Tote bags, fancy pouches, hats, dolls and doll clothes magically take shape. Unique fashion items come into being. One-of-a-kind greeting and holiday cards appear. These busy designers donate time, effort, and materials to create lovely, functional items and stunning art to sell in the Gift Shop, to raise funds for the quilt show. These funds go towards renting the quilt stands on which the quilts hang and other show expenses.
It’s an understatement to say attendees get inspired at quilt shows. They get positively gob-smacked by new ideas, designs, hues, and techniques, and cannot wait to purchase the wherewithal to begin their own projects.
Onsite vendors support this phenomenon by offering breathtaking textiles, wall hangings, patterns, software and fancy notions. These vendors must be wooed before the show and contracted into participating.
Someone must coordinate and direct the volunteers and plan their shifts at the show. GAAQG volunteers work a minimum two-hour shift.
At the end of the two-day event, the quilts and props must be dismantled and returned to their owners. The quilt stands must be taken apart and returned. Ticket sales and Gift Shop revenue must be finalized, and the bills for the show and venue must be settled.
As you can see, a quilt show of this magnitude requires a huge cast of characters. Not only are artists required, but also experts in administration, finances, human resources, the making and display of art, and event planning and organization.
This is what it takes to put on a successful quilt show. You’re all invited to attend the 17th Biennial GAAQG quilt show, “Celebrating the Quilt 2022 and soak up its beauty and inspiration!