Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Okay, I know this will never happen in any big way, so don't sweat it, and those of you who disagree with my rambling musings, it's just a thought, I was thinking.
Recently got back from the Fountain Hills Not So Great Fair and whilst I was standing around freezing and waiting for the occasional buyer to manifest I had a thought. Occasionally I have more than one but I did have this one...Booth fees are way out of control and my first experience with shows that charge a commission was in California 7 years ago. At the time I was incensed. ( Yes, I am fully aware that I signed up with the knowledge that I had to pay a commission but to mention that would ruin my diatribe) "How dare they charge me a __% commission on my sales on top of the already over inflated booth fee! The nerve of those guys!" As it turned out the __% commission I was to pay them amounted to about $26.45 and on the way out of the flea market grounds the collector of said funds said, "keep it for gas money", was that meant as an insult?
I digress, so the thought I had at the previously mentioned show was; what if more shows actually DID charge a commission IN LIEU of an over inflated booth fee. Those that sell a lot pony up what would only be reasonable if they did well and those that didn't do so well would come out with their skin still intact. The Festival of the Arts in Oklahoma City is one such show with a model that I will use as an example. First, they charge a nominal booth fee, if my memory serves me, of $150. Second, if you make a certain level of sales the booth fee is credited back to you and you pay a __% of your sales to the show. How can that possibly be in the artists favor? The show is sharing the risk with you. How? Well, they have the responsibility of delivering actual buyers to the show, they want you to do well so that they can do well. Win-Win don't you think? Of course this show will only consider you for future fairs if you reach another pre-determined sales level but that's their prerogative, they have to make their expenses and fund whatever projects that they fund.
Okay that was just an example but the point I'm trying to make is this. Booth fees are going up astronomically. Just got an email trolling for artists for the Cherry Arts Festival and they want $600! Remember when booth fees went to $100 and artists got incensed? What warrants this kind of highway robbery? The show is only in its third year and the reviews that I read of the previous years were not blindingly brilliant. What if instead this show did a low booth fee, took a commission and the promoters actually worked to deliver buyers? It is in the best interest of the show that you do well but if you don't? The risk is shared, and you don't have to mortgage your house for the second time!
I guess another point that I'm getting around to is this. How many show "promoters" are actually promoting with the intent that artists benefit from the experience? Locally, I've participated in one show where the promoter really does his homework and delivers the buyers! I can think of another one that I signed up with that may not necessarily have had the artists interest at heart as the show was held in the back of a shopping center with heavy road construction going on nearby. I bet he'd work real hard to get people in there if it were a commission show and he had something at stake.
Yah, I know, there are no guarantees of ever doing well at a show but at least I'd feel better about it if I knew that the show was really working for the artist. Ultimately, our participation is voluntary. No one twists yer arm and says you have to do any particular show at all but, wouldn't it level the playing field a little if the show had everyone's interests in mind in addition to their own? Just say'n.