Open Studios FAQs

We respectfully remind you that:

  • Your first priority is to give the public the opportunity to talk with you about the techniques you use and the passions that inspire you.
  • You commit to being in your studio between 10am and 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday of the weekend(s) you select.
  • Members exhibiting in a group at the same location must ensure that at least half the exhibiting artists are present at any time. 
  • Only the work of COS members who have paid to participate can be on display.
  • No entry charge will be made to visitors.
  • Consider potential trip hazards, ‘mind the step’ notices.
  • Pets, particularly dogs should be managed at your discretion.
  • First aid kit to hand might be useful.

Running your Open Studio

How do I run a successful Open Studio?

Make your visitors feel welcome and at ease in your house/studio. Introduce yourself, explain a little about the work on display, have a price list or labelling so people can easily see how much work is without having to ask. Give them space to enjoy the work (without hovering), but close enough so they can ask questions. A lot of visitors will only wish to browse. This is all about building up a good relationship with your visitors.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to know who your visitors are, where they come from and how they have heard of Cambridge Open Studios. You may even like to ask for visitors’ email addresses so you can build up your personal mailing list to promote yourself in the future. Please make it clear that you would use the data for your own use and would never share it with a third party. Send out postcard invitations or printed flyers and emails to your current contacts.

Can I sell items other than my artwork?

Members must only sell their own art and craft work – prints, postcards, mugs, cards etc are fine but only if they’re from the artist’s own originals. If people like your work but can’t afford to buy an original, a card, or mug will be a memorable keepsake – perhaps they’ll return next year for a painting or piece of work or even a commission.

Please do not display or sell any artwork by a non-member, or charge for drinks, food or entry.

Can I close for lunch, or early on quiet days?

You must be open come rain or shine on your selected weekends. You must be present when you state you will be. This is in our Terms and Conditions and people are very unlikely to return if you are unexpectedly closed and there could be a knock-on effect on other studios nearby. If you have agreed to open a certain weekend, you must be open and ready to welcome guests from 10am – 5pm on both the Saturday and Sunday. It has been known, especially during the last weekend of your exhibition to receive a flurry of guests in the last hour, so please do not be in a hurry to close up! 

I’m sharing a space with another COS artist, do we both need to be there?

If you are sharing a studio or exhibition space at least 50% of the artists must be present at any one time.

How can I make sure people can find my studio?

Display your COS flag so it can be seen. Use additional arrows and signage to show the way if your studio is difficult to find or you’re down a side road. Perhaps cut out paper footprints and lay a trail. An A-board sign is downloadable and printable from the Marketing Toolkit, as are all the posters and flyers which you can print off in addition to the ones sent to you with the Guides. If you are based in a village, artists will often signpost the open studio from a main road and throughout the village. Make it easy for your visitors to find you. Feedback we have received clearly indicates that the COS flag brings people to your studio!

I can no longer take part in Open Studios, what should I do?

Occasionally, there is a genuine reason for you not being able to open. Sadly, this is usually due to bereavement or some sudden, serious illness or covid. We understand but please let other local artists know so they can alert visitors and do post an apology on your door. Also let us know so we can put a message on the website and field queries from visitors on

Health and safety

Do I need Public Liability Insurance?

We strongly encourage all participants to think about having public liability insurance. You may find that your usual household policy will not cover members of the public coming onto your property when you are, in essence, conducting a business. The COS Management Team cannot recommend a particular company, so ask other artists what they do. We don’t always want to think about ‘Health & Safety’ but do have a look at your premises with the eyes of a visitor. Do a mental or even a paper risk assessment.

How can I keep myself safe?

Management Team has, on a couple of rare occasions, heard from participants who have said they had felt uncomfortable and vulnerable with a visitor. Many of us will have had visitors who seem to have only come to look around your house or hang around for ages. We don’t want to alarm members unnecessarily but here is some information to make you conscious of some of the simple things you can do to ensure your personal safety and peace of mind. Think about some of the points below especially if you are doing open studios by yourself.

  • If you can ask a family member or friend to just be around in the house or with you in the studio. This also helps with lunch and toilet breaks.
  • If this is not possible keep your mobile phone with you and make sure it’s charged up. 
  • Have the phone numbers of a couple of people you can call on for assistance on speed dial in case you feel uncomfortable with any of your visitors.
  • Let a partner / friend / neighbour know that you are doing Open Studios and arrange to call at end of day to let them know all is okay. 
  • Keep your takings separate from a small kitty and preferably in a locked place. 
  • It may be advisable to keep small valuable items, i.e., jewellery, in lockable display cases. Keep all handbags, keys and cashbox out of sight.
  • Areas off-limits should be clearly marked.
  • You are not obliged to let people use your toilet, especially if you are concerned that they seem unnaturally interested in your security and house contents. 
  • We sometimes have visitors who are lonely, have mental health issues or have learning difficulties. The majority of these individuals are not a concern but simply need a little patience. If you feel the conversation is going on too long, excuse yourself and say, for example, you need to talk to another visitor or if by yourself, that you need to make a phone call. 
  • If you feel uncomfortable with any visitor, call someone in to be with you. If you feel in any danger, call the emergency services on 999.

Promoting your event

How do I promote my event on social media?

Always use hashtag #COSart[year]

We urge you to promote yourself and publicise Open Studios on social media using the images provided and including #COSart[year]. Please share posts as much as you can.

Using hashtags: When posting on Social Media, formula for hashtags could be event + location + media + specific subjects or interest, for example #COSart[year] plus your location #Cambridge #Cambridgeshire #CambridgeshireArtist #CambridgeArt #CambridgeOpenStudios Plus your media such as #printmaking #oilpainting #landscapephotography Plus any subject of interest such as #HistoricBuildings #Punting 

Tag your posts with the following handles: FaceBook: @CambridgeOpenStudios Instagram: @camopenstudios Twitter: @CamOpenStudios

Can my village have a banner?

In order to support our members in villages, we have produced a limited number of large PVC banners. Details will follow in due course.

Can I put up posters?

While we are very grateful to all of you who put up posters wherever you can, please make sure that you only do so with the permission of the owner of the property you are attaching the posters to. Please don’t do this without permission. 

The County Council takes a dim view of fly-posting and has threatened COS with prosecution and fines of up to £2,500. The County Council owns several of the footbridges on the lower river – specifically Jesus Green footbridge, Fort St George footbridge, Cutters Ferry footbridge and Green Dragon footbridge. Please ensure that you always have written permission before you put up posters in a public area.

Providing feedback

How can I get in touch with COS management to give feedback?

Each summer we ask you for confidential feedback about your Open Studios experience. We would ask that the lead person at each venue responds to this survey. It takes only a few minutes to complete yet adds to the overall picture of visitor numbers, sales, level of your satisfaction and so on. One piece of essential information is the number of visitors per weekend, so please count your visitors! 

Good luck!

Finally, your Cambridge Open Studios Management Team wishes you every success for your Open Studios event this year. Have a successful and enjoyable event!

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