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The Scarlet & Black

Faulconer Gallery receives tourism award

Photo by Sarah Ruiz

By Graham Dodd

Faulconer Gallery was recently recognized by the Iowa Tourism Office and the Travel Federation of Iowa, receiving an Outstanding Niche Marketing Initiative award. The S&B’s Graham Dodd met with Faulconer Gallery Director Lesley Wright to talk about how the awards would affect the future of the gallery, as well as tourism trends in Grinnell.


The S&B: How did Faulconer Gallery win the award?


Lesley Wright: We did not know we had been nominated. It’s my understanding that our colleagues at the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce put in the nominations. We have long partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to promote the gallery and to use Faulconer as an asset for the community. As the wonderful colleagues that they are, I guess they figured we had done so much for the community we deserved the nomination.


The S&B: How do you expect this award will affect the gallery in the future?


LW: I think of this kind of recognition as one more way to enhance the marketing efforts that we do and the City of Grinnell does. Grinnell is actually in a great location in the state in that we are sort of central to a lot of things. We are within an hour of most of the main population centers. We are right off of Interstate 80. We’ve found that Grinnell is a place where, even [when] they are not making this their destination, it’s a great stop. They can have a good meal, they can come see Faulconer Gallery and the more people hear about us the more through these various avenues, the more I think it builds traffic both for us and for the town of Grinnell.


The S&B: Does the gallery quantify its traffic in any way?


LW: We count all the visitors, but what we have not done to date is break down those visitors and what gets them here. Sometimes people do write a note about where they heard about us, and I would say the biggest source where people would say they heard about us is, we have long had a sponsorship on National Public Radio, on Iowa Public Radio (IPR). And that one has probably been our most powerful. But we advertise monthly in a variety of publications across the state. And all those things build on each other. Someone may get an announcement, and then they see an ad, and then they hear it on IPR and then they [say] “oh, and they just won a tourism award, maybe we should go check that out.” And we hope that by people coming on campus they might say, “You know, my kids should think about coming to Grinnell.”


The S&B: Can you elaborate on how Grinnell is trying to build its tourism industry and whether it has been successful?


LW: Yeah, I would say it’s been successful. Certainly in the past seven years the Chamber has really stepped up its game, it’s got a much bigger presence at tourism conferences and all the stuff that happens at Grinnell, from building a new swimming pool and building a new library to improving the street downtown to all the summer events, Grinnell Games, which is a big summer sports event … they’ve deliberately tried to take all of these assets and then promoted them at the state level through tourism conferences and things like that. And as more people hear about it, and when [we] win more and more prizes, we kind of feel a buzz growing about Grinnell.


The S&B: And traffic in the gallery has increased as a result of this effort?


LW: Yes, I think last year we had over 15,000 visitors. And I’ll qualify that by saying that isn’t just visitors to Faulconer, that’s also about 2,000 of those are visitors to the Art and Drawing Study Room and then some, I’d say a little over 1,000 visitors, to various off campus things we host as the gallery. But yes, we have contact with a lot of people over the year.

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