case study: 5×5 Project

5×5, Washington, DC’s Largest Public Art Exhibition

Washington, DC, hosted its largest public art show to date in the fall of 2014 and hired Massey to do its communications. The District’s agency wanted all residents of the city to know this exhibition was created to delight and inspire them.

With installations and performances set to pop up in all eight wards, Massey launched 5×5, a Project of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, with the tagline: 5 Curators, 25 Artists, 16 Weeks, 1 Cultural Capital.

The first edition of 5×5 was held in 2012. This second edition offered the opportunity to brand the project, elevating it to larger audiences and creating an experience that all visitors would look forward to in years to come. Massey worked to get the word out to diverse audiences: art lovers; art critics; the 600,000 who live, work and play in the District and tourists as well.

Why Massey:

Massey is a Washington, DC, strategic public relations company with a focus on arts, culture and community. With expertise in community outreach, branding, media relations and film, Massey creates strategic communications plans that reach target audiences and move them to action.

5 Curators, 25 Artists, 16 Weeks, 1 Cultural Capital

“… the project is enlivening neighborhoods across the city by bringing top-quality, internationally-renowned art to residents’ doorsteps.” – WAMU, 9/17/2014

5 Curators:

The District selected five internationally-renowned curators who approached the city as a canvas for contemporary, temporary public artworks. For curators of this stature, the challenge was to draw critical review and engage the DC art community.

The outreach program:
Washington, DC, and regional earned media
Local arts organizations
Press tour
Video about the curatorial approach

25 Artists:

“Glenn Kaino’s Bridge is one of the most powerful pieces of art in recent history.”Forbes, 9/16/2014

With a diverse group of public artists from around the world, building an audience for 25 artworks means a multi-faceted approach.

“A new local art exhibit is challenging people to think differently.” – NBC News Washington, 9/13/2014

In addition, due to the contemporary nature of the project, many artists took on current political themes, like environmentalism and gentrification. These issues are lightning rods for discourse. Public relations expertise is necessary for focused dialogue.

The outreach program:
Washington, DC, and regional earned media
Connect with local arts organizations
Website and interactive map
Press tour
Videos about the artworks

16 Weeks:

“Washington, DC, Becomes a Playground of Public Art”Hyperallergic, 10/13/2014

With an opening weekend with a dozen public events, the 5×5 Project’s goal was to reach audiences to engage them with public artwork early on so they would enjoy it over the course of the exhibition. In addition to the public artworks that were performances and activations, artists and curators created workshops and discussions over four months. The communications plan needed to roll out over months to keep audiences informed and interested.

The outreach program:
Staggered video launch
Twitter and Facebook engagement
Washington, DC, and regional earned media

1 Cultural Capital:

The Washington, D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities just seriously upped their game with their latest city-wide temporary public art project called 5 x 5.” – The Dirt, 9/9/2014

One of the 5×5 objectives is to promote the creative profile of Washington, DC to the nation and the world. In addition to local and regional outreach, national and international art press were engaged to review 5×5 and communicate its vision.

The outreach program:
Washington, DC, and regional earned media
Strategic advertising
Social media
Art press tour

The Results:

Earned media played a vital role to communicating to massive audience.
TV spots included WETA Arts & WETA Around Town, NBC Washington & NBC Washington, News Channel 8

Newspaper and print coverage included the center spread for the Washington Post Style Section with videos, ForbesWashington City PaperCapitol File and dozens more.

For the 5×5 Project campaign, Massey’s team partners, Think Out Loud Productions, produced a series of videos about the project, its vision and the artists’ work.

Two of the 5×5 Project videos earned acclaim:
The video that served as an introduction to the 5×5 Project won the 2014 Hermes Creative Platinum Award. Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies.

For Glen Kaino’s “Bridges” artwork, a short film tells the story of its development. This video was selected as a CODAvideo Awards 2014 Top 100. The CODAvideo Awards recognize the best videos that document and tell the stories of incredible design projects featuring commissioned artwork.