How Softr helped a non-profit increase art event engagement

The story of the Door County Plein Air Festival that exhibits its collection of paintings through a virtual exhibition space built with Softr.

door county plein air festival home page


Catherine is the Executive Director of the Peninsula School of Art, which hosts a big art festival each year, where 40 artists submit images and information on 5-10 paintings. Thus, a total of nearly 400 artworks is created within less than a week. So, Catherine and her team were looking for a solution that would allow them to present all the paintings along with all the details through a nice online gallery. They basically needed to create a virtual gallery, where visitors could easily browse through all the paintings to view and perhaps even purchase them. We were curious how Catherine and her team had been presenting collections prior to building the online gallery and how they ended up with Softr for the project.

door county plein virtual gallery directory

Creating a virtual gallery

Catherine and her team used to manually enter all the artwork information (submitted through paper forms) into their organizational database, but they didn't have a way to upload images or link the data to their existing websites. So, to simplify the process, Catherine started thinking about a solution that would allow artists to upload all the media and information themselves online, which would then be displayed through a website updating in real-time and incorporating new paintings throughout the week-long event. She was already familiar with Airtable and considered it a good option for storing all the data, but she also needed a tool on top of Airtable to create a nice interface for the whole collection.

"I knew I could use an Airtable form to collect the information and images directly from the artists, but I needed a solution to create a website without exporting and importing a CSV file and to be able to link the images."

Catherine Hoke, Executive Director, Peninsula School of Art

Thus, after extensive research, Catherine came across Softr, which seemed a really simple solution that could be applied right away.

“Softr sounded too good to be true. Could I actually just customize a template, link it to Airtable, and have it manage itself? It was that easy!”

Catherine Hoke, Executive Director, Peninsula School of Art

The team applied one of the existing Softr templates, customizing it to match their brand identity. After linking the Airtable to the Softr app, she was able to quickly connect their subdomain to the app and have everything up and running for the upcoming festival. 

The team no longer had to spend time to input all the data and manage it, and they got a real-time platform, where patrons could easily navigate through all the artwork and make purchases. The participant artists really loved the simplicity of the whole submission process and that they could see their posted work appear on the site almost instantly. And, among other things, the event revenue increased significantly as well.

virtual art gallery painting details page

Results and further plans

For the first festival organized through the platform, the festival team saw an increase in sales of about 15% and an elevated engagement with the event in general. Overall, the feedback from patrons was highly positive. Even those who weren't able to attend the event in person, could get familiar with the whole collection remotely and purchase the artworks they liked.

Catherine's organization carries out many other art events as well. Since the feedback for the Door County Plein Air Festival’s new platform has been highly positive, she's currently thinking of ways to apply the same approach for other events as well, using Softr and Airtable as the platforms for organizing and displaying the data.

Client Portal | Internal Tools | Web App Builder | Free Website Builder Made with Softr