September Festival

    What is Northants Open Studios?

    Our aim is to make art accessible for everyone so we welcome artists of all ages / abilities / mediums and encourage a diversity of venues from churches to professional commercial galleries.

  • We are a support network for artist to grow and engage with like-minded people.
  • We promote and support artists within the county.
  • Give artists opportunities to exhibit throughout the year
  • Open doors to venues, collectors and buyers.
  • 15,000 brochures are distributed (with the help of artists) across the county and beyond to promote the festival and the artists taking part.
  • A Central Exhibition showing an example of each artists work takes place, allowing visitors to select which artists they want to visit. Think of it as a physical brochure.
  • Venues who want to host artists will put on exhibitions throughout September. Some that are negotiated through NOS, some that artists have found themselves.

    But most importantly we organise the largest Visual Arts Festival in the county, which you can all be a part of.

    During the month of September artists invite the public into their studios to witness at first hand the inspiration and motivation which drives them to create. They can step inside a pottery studio, discuss carving with a stonemason or watch demonstrations of painting, printmaking and traditional crafts.

Studios and exhibitions will open across the whole county as well as some areas across the border e.g South Leicestershire and Rutland.

Northants Open Studios is open to all. We pride ourselves in being really inclusive, welcoming any artist, from the hobbyist to the professional, practising in the visual arts.

We encourage and support those who have never exhibited their work before and push and direct the seasoned professional into new directions. Providing links to galleries and giving advice on how and where to present work etc.

NOS is a visual arts group, giving members of the public access to art throughout the county. We are very inclusive and feel that art should be celebrated and enjoyed by everyone, therefore, our annual festival not only gives artists the opportunity to engage directly with art lovers, collectors and enthusiasts of their work, but also allows them to demonstrate their practice, discuss new work and sell or accept commissions. There is no selection process to be part of NOS allowing us to accept artists of varying abilities, ages and disciplines.

NOS provides opportunities throughout the year for artists and makers in Northamptonshire and its surrounding counties including the organisation of a large Visual Arts Festival traditionally held in September each year. 

Become part of a supportive community that celebrates the achievements of all its members.

Distribution of the 15,000 brochures throughout the county.

Support and advice from the lead organiser.

Creates opportunities for some artists to exhibit in large venues, giving them the confidence to grown and develop their professional practise.

Local signposting of the annual event with banners, posters and flyers. Downloadable to all artists for further distribution.

One of the only Open Studios events to hold a central exhibition, giving each member the chance to have work in a quality, reputable venue.

Events will run throughout September 2024
Each artist opening up a studio should commit to opening up at least one weekend 10am - 4pm throughout September.
If you want to open up during the week, then that's fine, but you must commit to one full weekend during September.

What to expect
It is hard to predict how many visitors you will have and if it is your first year, you should not be disappointed if it is only a few.
Visitors will come to talk to you, view your work and they may even buy something. They will be as nervous as you are but it is enjoyable and once the first visitor has been and gone, you will get a feel for what you can improve for the next one.
Refreshments is always a good way to make them feel welcome but this is obviously down to individuals and what they feel comfortable doing.

What do you need to do?
Promote widely to invite people to your studio. We will promote the event as a whole but can’t do that for individuals.
You need to ensure your studio space is safe and that it is suitable for visitors. It doesn’t have to be fully accessible to everyone but you will need to make sure you feel comfortable to allow people inside to look. There will be a list of how accessible your studio is when you sign up so please be honest so those less able understand before visiting.
Set up your work in your studio so that visitors can see what you do, have sketchbooks, tools, works in progress. Have smaller items to sell that are affordable and hooks them in, which may get them back for other work later or even a commission.

Insurance for your work in case of any accidental damage.
Public Liability Insurance –

What do visitors expect?
A warm friendly welcome and a nice experience.
A conversation about you and your work.
No pressure to buy works
They will be interested in the materials you use and where you get your inspiration from. You resources and the studio space itself. Visitors tend to be nosey so only invite them into the spaces you want them to go into.
Refreshments – If these are offered, you may be expected to allow them to use the ‘facilities’
Have a go sessions – if you allow visitors to ‘have a go’ then you may need to provide a space for them to wash their hands.
Card payments – if you are selling work then visitors will probably assume you take card – if not then make this clear on your profile page on the website when asked at sign up.
You do not have to have a studio to take part, you can hold an exhibition at another venue, but there are other expectations.

You can host an exhibition at a venue in Northamptonshire, but you do need to be present to meet your visitors for at least a day or two over the showing period.

Exhibition venues are for artists that do not have a studio or venue of their own.

It is encouraged that artists find their own venues, but as we are trying to build up momentum for NOS we have been negotiating with venues to secure great opportunities.

Venues will be offered out but the spaces are limited, there will be charges and each venue will take a commission on sales.

Where can I show my work?
2024 Venues TBC

What do you need to do?
Work as a team – share responsibility and the costs between the group.
Promotion of the event – work with the venue as much as you can to promote the exhibition to get the most out of the experience.
Artist Statement – venues will want some information about you and your work so be prepared.
Labels – Some venues will want you to produce all the labels for the exhibition.
Some venues will want you to install or at least help install the exhibition.

What will the venue need?
Co-operation. If you are going to work with a venue then you need to work with them to put on the exhibition.
To be able to meet deadlines. Give them the information they need before they need it.
Your BEST work.
Stewarding – Some venues will want you to be in the space, whilst others don’t.
Demos or workshops – Some of the venues will ask you if you want to be in the space to demo what you do. They may offer you some space to run a workshop if this is something you would be happy doing.
Preview or meet the artist event – The venue may organise a special opening for you. Invite all your friends and promote it so you don’t waste a great opportunity to meet and greet. The group as a whole should be involved in this and share the respective costs, even if they cannot attend. The event is for everyone.

How to approach a venue not on the NOS list
Visit the space and ask who the best person is to contact if they aren’t available and get contact details.
Tell them what NOS is – point them to the website
Attach some of your images and ask them if they have space.
Tell them the benefits of them taking part
More visitors or footfall
Promotion (brochure and website from us, posters, social media etc from you)
Don’t be too despondent if they say no, try again somewhere else.
Think of good places – pubs, cafes, library, village halls, local shop windows etc.
If you still want to take part, but don’t want to open a studio or put on an exhibition then you can just take part in the Central Exhibition. 

Launch Event being held on - 2024 tbc
NOS Closing Party - 2024 tbc
Installation - 2024 tbc
Collection of work - 2024 tbc

Depending on final numbers entering the Central Exhibition, artists will be able to submit works that represent their practice. The format of this particular show has not been decided yet but you will have space to show 2-3 works (size dependent) and will be confirmed nearer the time.

All packages require a NOS membership.
Click here to read about a NOS Membership

Early Bird
Entry 27th January 2024 – 31st March 2024
Brochure Entry £TBC
Central Exhibition £TBC
Brochure and Central Exhibition £TBC

Entry 1st April – 1st May 2024
Brochure Entry £TBC
Central Exhibition £TBC
Brochure and Central Exhibition £TBC

Publicity campaign including
Press and media releases
Radio coverage (with possible radio interviews with artists)
Social Media posting, sharing and advertising
Local Magazine advertising
Blogs and media partnerships

A Website
A page on the website where visitors can view your work, videos, contact details and directly link to your social media - it’s like your own personal website.
Over 120,000 hits between July and September in 2021
The website has proved useful for further contact being made by those who would like to commission a piece of work or find out more about the artists’ practice.
A supportive Facebook page and group.
Online virtual exhibitions taken from artist content.
Platform to advertise exhibitions, events and workshops information outside of NOS for the whole of the year.
A growing mailing list, tailored to our artists including exhibiting opportunities.

15,000 high quality brochures are distributed (with the help of artists) across the county and beyond to promote the festival and the artists taking part.
See our archive of previous documents here

Central Exhibition
A Central Exhibition showing an example of each artists work takes place, allowing visitors to select which artists they want to visit. Think of it as a physical brochure.
Catalogue production and/or labelling
Administration of sales and quick payments
Production of invitations
Installation of the exhibition and materials to do so (paint, screws, tools etc)
Wrapping and packing materials for sold pieces and delivery to those buyers who can’t collect.

Launch and closing party
A chance to invite as many guests as you want to a large event
Meet and network with special guests and other artists

Awards and Bursaries
The chance to be awarded several high profile awards including exhibitions, bursaries, framing vouchers, experiences and more.
Buyers and collectors
Having your work on sale as part of NOS highlights it to certain buyers and collectors in the county currently on our mailing lists. They will be invited to all of our events.

  • DON’T wait too long before sending in your forms!!!! - The more time I have the more time you have.
  • DON’T wait for others to organise things within your area.
  • DO champion other artists close by, it’s not a competition, this group is about supporting one another's successes!
  • DO come along to the central exhibition even if you don’t have work on show – it’s a great way to meet the other members, network with any buyers and gallery managers.
  • DON’T rely on me to do everything!
  • DO tag us in every social media post
  • DO take advantage of everything I provide
  • DO ask for help in plenty of time from other artists or the Organiser
  • Think about what work you are showing – does it represent you and your practice at its best?
  • Only add photos that are of a certain quality – A bad photo can make your profile stand out for the wrong reasons.