Where to find/how to build a great online artist registry/directory?
June 4, 2010 10:16 PM   Subscribe

We want an online searchable artist registry for our small-town art council. Wave our magic wand and we'd have something just like this or this. But we have to be realistic. Bottom line, we have $1k. What do you suggest?

It must allow users to search by name, discipline or keyword.

In our wildest dreams we imagine ours would be a directory of perhaps up to 300 artists (visual, performing and literary) that gives all pertinent data (e.g., artist statement, a sampling of their work, affiliations, exhibitions, pricing information, contact details).

This will be a resource for all art lovers:
1) The artist. One central (free?) place for all artists to have a web presence, to share their work and to gain visibility.
2) The art-loving public. One central place to search for, if you will, a local painter to do up a moose to hang above the mantle, or a writer to spruce up your memoir.
3) Us. To support artists and our mission as an arts council. To create a comprehensive online community of artists. To give us a place to find artists who respond positively in a section about how they want to interface with their community (e.g. mentor young artists, teach workshops, collaborate on shows, judge contests).

In our search for the right resource, we've been directed to this "membership website builder," which powers this site among many others. Does anyone have experience with it or anything else like it? If we go that route, is it reasonable to think we can do much of the work to set it up before handing it to our web guy, or does it require real development skills? According to them, "If you can use Microsoft Word, you can do it." Should we believe it?

Also, is it better for a nonprofit to buy something (but what?) outright while they have the funding, or to go with something that costs $50+/month in perpetuity?
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Technology (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Are you guys a 501(c)(3)? If so, the first thing I'd do is submit your project for consideration at UX Test Kitchen, they do free web and brand development for non-profits. Though, they only take on a couple projects a year (but they do seriously good work).

Also, you might want to look into an open-source eportfolio system like Mahara, I stumbled upon it a year ago while doing research for another project, it seems like it might get you 80% of the way to what you want, though, I only spent a day or so playing with it, so I don't know it well, nor do I know your organization well enough to make a good recommendation.
"If you can use Microsoft Word, you can do it." Should we believe it?
No. I am assuming that this site will be a large part of your organization's web presence, do you really want to be your public face to be a generic template designed by someone you've never even had a phone conversation with? Given your budget, you're most likely going to be going with an already-built system (like Mahara or Wild Apricot). However, you're definitely going to need some customization, at least to tie in your other projects, which will need a professional developer.

(If you want, you can MeMail me with more specifics, I've got some free time in the next few weeks and might be able to help put you guys on the right track.)
posted by thebestsophist at 11:04 PM on June 4, 2010

Just so you know, what the Pittsburgh Artists Registry has can be done with WordPress pretty easily by anyone who's conversant in WP, including the ability for artists to add and update their own registries.

If you would like a referral to a MeFite (not me, one to whom I subcontract) who can do a site like that for your budget, please send me a MeMail.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:09 AM on June 5, 2010

I can't speak to Wild Apricot, but if you got a registry set up right, the upfront expense might pay for itself down the road compared to a monthly service.I think a lot of CMS (content mgt. systems) have membership section capabilities. If you already have your 'web guy' picked out, you might ask him if he has a preference. As mentioned above Word Press is a possibility, also Expression Enginewhich I've been pretty happy using. (And there are others out there) You might visit the EE site and check out some of the featured sites. (I thought about pointing you there when you were looking for examples of registries, but I didn't see any art specific directories, so I thought it might be off topic). If you don't have a web person picked out yet, and are interested in going the EE route you can post a request in the EE job board
posted by snowymorninblues at 9:05 AM on June 5, 2010

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