Court Corporate Clients with Creativity: A Small Gallery Builds Business with Corporate Clients by Hosting Receptions in Their Offices

Article excerpt

Those who work in dreary office buildings have without a doubt realized that better decorations could boost company morale. It might be a while before the higher-ups notice, so sometimes it takes a little help from art galleries like Peninsula Gallery. Located in the small tourist town of Sidney, British Columbia, Peninsula Gallery is increasing its client base by selling art to corporate clients.

Other than adding personality to hallways and meeting rooms, Peninsula Gallery also provides artwork for company receptions. These parties-cure-art shows give employees and their guests an opportunity to socialize as well as discuss--and hopefully purchase--artwork. Some of Peninsula Gallery's most unusual and successful corporate receptions have been held in the clients' offices.

Peninsula's first corporate show came about when an existing client, who had recently moved into a new office building, suggested having a wine and cheese reception featuring some of Peninsula Gallery's artwork at a plush hotel. But Larry Hanlon, who owns the gallery with his wife, Gillian, suggested the show be held in a place where the employees would eventually be spending a majority of their time--their new offices. Hanlon hoped the show would help connect the workers to the company and make them more comfortable in their new surroundings. Because of the reception, "they don't think of it as just an office;" said Hanlon." It's part of the extension of [the] company personality."

Whether held in the offices or at a local restaurant, receptions for corporations are a way to connect the office staff and their clients while getting exposure for a gallery at the same time.

One of Peninsula Gallery's most successful corporate receptions was held in the offices of a large financial company. The gallery hired three French chefs and commissioned Vancouver artist Michael Stockdale to paint work having to do with French food and chefs. Hanlon said guests, "get a chance to socialize with their financial reps [and their] other clients, and they feel comfortable in that space."

One of the major reasons that reception was so popular was that the artist, as well as the chefs, were on hand to talk about their creations. This added to the entertainment value of the evening. "Generally people never get to meet the man who prepared the meal and ask him questions," Hanlon said. "Here they could walk up to him as an equal and ask him about doing crepes suzettes or whatever they wanted."

Hanlon said that when dealing with a high-class client, he makes sure everything he provides is first-rate. Sometimes this requires some persuasion. At one of Hanlon's receptions, the corporation started out with the idea for an amateur art show. "I just said, 'The people that you're dealing with are not interested in amateur art. But if you want a show, we will put on a show,'" said Hanlon. "They were trying to do something that we felt took away from the image of what they were as a corporation:" Instead, Hanlon took four of the gallery's artists and $100,000 worth of artwork and set up a show with live music and a buffet. …