Take Your Art Show to the Next Level With a Mini-Marketplace

artwork on display

Have you ever considered partnering with community members to bring attention to local artists and businesses while also highlighting your art department? What better time to support each other than during your school-wide art show, when you have the most foot traffic of the year?

Making your art show an event people want to attend is an amazing way to advocate for your art department. When you take the time to display hundreds of pieces of student artwork, it only feels right for art show visitors to stay awhile. Creating an event that includes a variety of components will make visitors an active part of the show.

parents and students at a school artshow

There are so many opportunities for symbiotic relationships between your art department and passionate individuals in the community. Each party benefits from exposure, support, and connections. This type of symbiotic relationship is just like the one formed when you display art in your community. The local business gains foot traffic, and your school art program gains exposure.

What exactly is a mini-marketplace?

A mini-marketplace is an area where art show visitors can shop from local artists and businesses. We highlight places with a special local connection to students—perhaps from a walking field trip or a school parent’s local shop? We also showcase artists’ work, especially those who have come to our school as visiting artists.

ceramic mugs created by artist

Who should you reach out to?

Local Artists

Ceramic artist, Vanessa Mattsson-Boze, displays her art at our mini-marketplace. Vanessa previously visited our classroom to do a ceramic project with students, so it has been fun for students to see her again and check out more of her art. Check out more of her work on Instagram.

ceramic artwork on display

If you have had any visiting artists in your classroom, see if they are willing to come to be a part of your marketplace during the art show. If you want to have artists visit your classroom but don’t know where to start, check out this article about why you need to have visiting artists in your classroom. 

Illustrator, Zach Wagner, displays his prints, cards, and stickers during our art show. Check out more of Zach’s bold and creative work on Instagram.

Zach also offered free coloring sheets for our students that were digital drawings of the same kinds of animals he taught us to draw during his artist visit. This was an awesome connection for students who loved learning how to boost their confidence with Zach’s graphic style drawing designs.

students looking at artwork on display

When it comes to gathering artists for your marketplace, start by asking your artist friends, staff members, parents of your students, and other local artists you may have met at artisan markets. Once you ask, you’ll be surprised how many community members are makers and have things to share and sell. Connect with people who are passionate about their art. Your support for each other will take you far.

coloring sheets

Local Shops

Brainstorm local shops in your community that are big supporters of art, especially places your students may have taken walking field trips or places with special connections to the school community.

Ruby Rose Gallery is a local rock shop that supports our school and creates opportunities for walking field trips and collaborations.

display of rocks at mini marketplace

Rowe Pottery is a ceramic manufacturing studio right down the street from our school. Our students took a walking trip to Rowe to learn all about their ceramic-making process. Check out their beautiful work on Instagram.

display of pottery

Do any of your students’ families own a local business in town that might want to be a part of this event? For example, Details Boutique is owned by a student’s family. Their little boutique is right next to our local coffee shop.

boutique items on display

Your Artwork

If you are a practicing artist and an art teacher, your art show is a great place to display and sell your work. Model for your students and art show visitors what it is like to be a working artist by showing your students what kind of art you like to make. If you find yourself stuck in an artistic rut and need some inspiration to reignite your artmaking process, check out how to make the most of your summer by making your own art.

artwork on display

Local Food

Let’s be honest; people love to attend events when food is involved. Ask if your local coffee shop would be interested in offering drinks or goodies for sale at your mini-marketplace.

food vendor on display

One of our student’s families owns a business specializing in rolled ice cream created on a flat cold surface and scraped into rolls with special toppings. We love having the Fancy Roll Ice Cream food truck at our art show.

ice cream

Check out a few of these resources for making your art show more successful:

Creating a mini-marketplace during your art show creates a unique connection between your community and your school. It takes an extra bit of organization, but the benefits are extraordinary. Remember to start small as you plan this event. Each year, it will grow and continue to be an amazing part of your art show.

Can you think of places that would be willing to participate in a mini-marketplace?
What other activities do you offer at your art show?
How do you like to connect your community to your school art program?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Sarah Krajewski

Sarah Krajewski, an elementary school art educator, is AOEU’s Social Media Content Creator and a former AOEU Writer.

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