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Barry Witt speaks about EntryThingy and the Bonita Springs National Art Festivals
Click the play button to listen now, download the audio file to your computer using the link below the player or read the transcription below.

Download and listen: barry.mp3


About Bary Witt and the Bonita Springs Art Festivals
My name is Barry Witt and I direct the Bonita Springs National Art Festivals which help to support the Art Center in Bonita Springs which is a not for profit organization and we are the largest fund raiser for that organization. The festival started in 2000 and we have two festivals. One in March and one in January each year.

The origins of EntryThingy
As things progressed in the past, we juried with 35mm slides and everything worked fine until the digital age changed that situation. So I realized last year that I would need to go digital and started to do research on the available digital jury processes. I do have some technical knowledge but didn't have enough knowledge to upload the images and manipulate them properly. So I went to the two existing sources, did in depth research on both of them and found that they were very expensive, especially in times like this when the shows shouldn't raise their prices for the artists. But also when you're dealing with a not for profit organization our demands get heavier when the economy goes bad. The solution was I went on the Internet to try to find someone capable of handling the images. I could handle the other data but I had trouble handling the images. So I eventually found a gentleman named Chris Ritke and he had an upload program that looked interesting. So I called him and as we discussed the situation he realized that he was capable of building a system that could be used to not only upload images but to actually involve a process whereby they could be used for the jury process and scoring. So the two of us got together in March of 2009 and started to build the system. And after months of work going back and forth in emails the first EntryThingy evolved.

Why EntryThingy?
Now why EntryThingy? Because it's price effective. That was the main reason initially. But what's happened now is I've realized that it's not only price effective but it's offering me many many more features than were available from either of the two systems. The way that the system works is there's a small amount of code that can be placed into a web page. Once that's on the web page the information that you're trying to collect will be collected there. It gets too complicated to talk about all the individual items - which you can discover if you go to the EntryThingy web site there are videos that explain the system. But basically here's how it works for me.

Setting up a show
I take a show, I setup the basic information about that show or festival, our requirements and options - and that appears on the web site. So in our case, on the web site are two shows. The January show and the March show. It explains application requirements, dates, etc.

Artist Applications
The artist then goes onto the site, uploads their images and those images are stored on massive computers - "the cloud" - that are run by Amazon. And I'm not too technically involved with that but I do understand that the data is backed up in several locations, it's very fast and it requires less maintenance than normal in-house servers.

In our case, for example, as applications come in, we still use the traditional use of paper applications. So as an artist goes on to a site, they finish their application, click a button and it prints out our application with their images on it - all their personal data plus the legal jargon at the bottom and they sign and date that. They mail that to us with checks and that's how we process. We also put our own individual ID number labeling system into the system - now that again is an option that is built into the system - you don't have to do that but in our case that's the way we work.

The reverse of this is that if you didn't want a paper system, you as the show have the option that everything gets paid by Paypal and it's all done on the web site. Again reminding that either system that you use, you are able to download on an incremental basis or on a bulk basis all the information that has been submitted by the artists, including the images. ** (moved from below)

So our application process worked very well. We've been through both shows now as far as the applications were concerned. Our applications held - most artists were able to navigate the site and had very few problems with it.

The Jury
Now let's switch to the Jury. The jury process - we use 3 jurors who review the work - the slides - that have been submitted. There are options of different scoring levels, etc. that are available in the program so it's not static - let's say for example we use a 0 to 5 with no 3 scoring system, other people may use 1 to 10 - whatever their needs are the program can fulfill those needs with just easy switches and you pick the numbers that you want to use. The process with the jury - and I used jurors that had dealt with this in a previous time. The system allows you to download all your information to a local computer. So your data exists in two different places. It exists on the cloud - or on these massive computers - plus, with incremental downloads, you have that information on your specific computer. The advantage to this is that if you want to do the traditional jury process where you project the images, you just load this information into a laptop or notebook computer, hook it up to a projector and work like that.

The other option for scoring - and we did both in our two jury processes - is to work online. So each juror - and in our case we bought very high quality large monitors - about 24 inch monitors - you needed a high speed Internet connection obviously - and the jurors sit at these monitors and it was our intention to use monitors that were exactly the same so that each juror was looking at the work with the same technical settings. The other option obviously is an individual could work in his pajamas at home - because this is all online - so if you felt that you didn't want to get the people in one location - you could do it with as many jurors as you felt necessary and they could work on their own. Let's go back to our case: we actually had jurors that had worked with the slides before and were now working with the new system. In every case the jurors preferred the new system over the slides. Several reasons. Number 1: they could work at their own pace. Number 2: The actual clarity of the images was more flexible. For example, with this system you have three thumbnail images on the screen - but if you click on one of the images, it actually expands to the native size of that image - which would fill up the whole screen and beyond on our 24 inch screens. So if a juror wanted to look at detail on a specific item, they could look at it. The scoring is directly on the screen. So they just click on the jury point that they want and that score is registered. And of course they go through it by category.

After the jury
Our jury process went fine - we were able to select the artists. We also - for those of you that develop a wait list - I found this a wonderful feature being the director - because once the jury is over, and you've picked your entrants that are going to be in the festival - and that again when you look on the site you'll find that by methods of scoring you can select your artists right on the site - you have all that information. But then after you have your show you can now look at all the images on your show. For example if you needed items for publicity, you have these native images that you can go through just browsing on your computer, pick them for publicity, have all the information about the artist at hand and submit this to newspapers. The other great thing is, you can look at it doing space assignments so that you can see how the layout is going to look without the old process of trying to pick up a slide, look at the slides, etc. So it speeds up your process and it has practical applications.

The next application I use a lot is the wait list. You also can pick by category your wait list. So if someone calls and has to cancel for some reason, and you have to fill the spot, again you go onto your computer and you can look at this entire bank of people on your wait list and select the art that is going to fit into that available space.

The other thing that may be a positive - which I haven't done yet but I can see it being used - is you can actually do a patron party for your organization, or a patron preview - and you can use again projected images of what's going to be in your festival at the event.

So those are some of the things that we really enjoy.

It's festival time
Now it's festival time. Another widget - or little piece of code that has been developed in the system - is that you can now put a gallery of artists work on your web site. This again is all drawn from the web - you're not building a huge web site, you don't have to be a web designer, it takes about 2 minutes - and what this does is it benefits the show because it gives people the ability to go and look and preview what's going to be there. Secondly the patron - the patron can use it on the front end to see if he wants to go to the festival and on the back end - if assuming he missed an artist or wants to find an artist that he saw at the festival - he can then go on post show and find that artist's work plus details about the artist. This obviously benefits the artist because it makes their work available. The second thing is for artists that maybe didn't get in the festival, it gives them the ability to browse the site and see where maybe they can improve themselves - if they look at the categories of the selected artists - it may give them some insight as to why or why not certain people were picked.

And that pretty much sums up EntryThingy, except for the fact that you do have someone available at all times to help you with any problems you may have with the system - which we had very few - or you have a situation where you're really dealing with a system that goes beyond strictly a jury system.

posted on Apr 27, 2010 • permanent link

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