I need help with this question from my inbox:

We produce a few local artisan shows at ___ _______ in __________, __. We have been producing them for 15 years. I need help with how to go about incorporating NEW artists while saying good-bye to artists who have been with us for many years. Is there a nice way to do that?

All of us have been in this situation, the new artist who can't get into an established event at a show that has a solid invitational list, and being the old dude who has kept it on her calendar for a long time. But I do understand the dilemma. Any suggestions we can pass on?

Please help. 

You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders

Votes: 0
Email me when people reply –


  • it's not an easy dialogue, but usually an adult conversation with a normal explanation of the situation works

  • Established artists often have humongous mailing / contact lists that bring loyal collectors - builds over time, many ages and multiple generations of families. You still may want to keep many of those. Pure jurying should be based on the art presented, not necessarily names that you have or have not seen before - just my humble opinion. I’d bet that you get applicants from plenty of newcomers too, who hopefully, have the art you are looking for to have a balanced show.
  • I'm new to the art vending world, but this sounds very familiar to what I dealt with as a touring musician. Festivals struggle to keep new bands booked while not knowing how to shake off the fixture bands who'd been there for 10 years. YOU NEED NEW STUFF OR PEOPLE WILL START SKIPPING THE EVENT! So here's what they do in the music world.

    -Some festivals have a 'no repeat policy'. If you performed last year, you have to wait a year or 3 before you can get booked again.

    -A new talent buyer (in your case, jury). Some festival owners had personal friendships with the musicians and thats why they were fixtures. This is bad news bears. When it's hard for them to say "sorry bro", they could simply say "we hired a 3rd party buyer this year. I'm not in charge".

    -A combo. You can announce that the new jury will only be allowed to choose a small number of bands (crafters) from the previous year. Because let's face it, some people should be there every time, just not all of them.

    As a musician, we were used to these limitations. And as much as my band wanted to return to fests that we loved, we understood. PLUS, those fests that knew they couldn't repeat us gave us better stage times, sometimes headlining. And then for every fest that we aged out of, a new festival would open its doors to us for the same reasons.


    That's all in regards to the good ol's. But in terms of getting new talent, I'll make the same unpopular request I would make to any fest. Lose the admission fee (or at least the steep fee, if you have one). Most of the artists I know don't apply to any new shows unless they know someone on the inside. If I applied to every festival that was in my range, it would cost me thousands. I know that many of those festivals are only allowing one new artist every time an older artist retires, so there's little incentive to try new festivals. I have never yet been turned down by a jury, therefor I don't apply to 2 fests on the same weekend. But if I did, I might try whichever one I haven't done already.

    I know that means making less money and sifting through 5 times as many artists, but you can streamline that. Require 1 main picture and a 1 sentence description. You can narrow those down pretty quickly and weed out the people who aren't ready to do shows yet. Then dig in further on the good stuff who probably wouldn't have paid a high submission fee since they don't know you.


    Consider teaming up with your competitor fests who are in your area and likely to be sharing artists with you. They might have the same problem. If you both have the same policies about repeating, it will mean there are places for your current vendors to go to. And their old artists will become your new ones. Everything I said about my band finding new fests is only possible because of this.

    Anyway, some of this is probably not transferrable from the music world to the art world. But I bet some of it is. I've only done about 10 shows before covid and I do see a lot of parallels. Hope it helps!

  • FYI, www.festivalnet.com does a "Call for artists" that might help move in the right direction.

    Good luck!


    • interesting to know about, thanks!

  • sometimes re-arranging a show can make it look new.  Instead of putting the same artists in the same spot as in the past, shake it up a bit.  Move things around.  Change the site plan a bit.

  • Being new to art fairs, but neither to business nor logic, this thread kind of baffles me.

    I think the thing that's mostly missing in the discussion is the notion that what brings a show into existence (and maintains its existence) is very different from what brings an artist to a show. And on some very basic level, what brings an artist to a show matters very little to the show. Yes, I understand that the show must recruit the talent/accomplishment that will please its audience...that's a given. But that doesn't necessarily prompt the question in the original post at all. (And I realize that it wasn't the original poster's own question.)

    In other words, if all eleven of your offensive players make the Pro Bowl each year, a change for the sake of different faces in the game program probably isn't indicated - for the sake of change alone.

    Sure, there are plenty of talented players who would love to be invited to join that particular team - but the owner/coach/fans are probably poorly served by that course of action if it's done merely for the sake of change. And the potential new player's desire to be on the team doesn't enter the universe of the decision-making process. Or at least it shouldn't.

    My view on the process is that it's their ballgame - their playing field - their revenue center - their legacy. Should they choose to invite me (as a new artist), I'm thrilled. Should they choose not to, I have to assume that whatever it was that I presented as what I could bring to the table for them, it wasn't enough. It didn't support whatever aims they have - realizing that their aims and mine don't necessarily have too much overlap in what drives them. In other words, I'm sure they think every bit as much about me buying groceries with art sales revenue as I do about their day-to-day problems of...whatever it is that occupies them the other 362 days a year, festival-wise.

    In other other words, I don't suspect they'd run a very healthy show for very long if they relied on my notion of "fair" to populate it. I guess what I'm looking for is the overlap between me and the show. Sometimes there's gonna be none. And that's their call, not mine (to determine if there is).

  • I recently attended the kids show the day before the main show at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Kids under 18 can participate. Some of them were just having fun selling their creations for a buck or two - think lots of slime - but some were quite talented and I could see them in a booth next to me in a few years. It won’t solve the immediate problem but more shows should do this to bring up the next generation.
    • I've heard Rick Bryant person his Children's Art Fair at a conference. It is definitely a model for others, a great way to grow up an appreciative audience and a great way to encourage entrepreneurial and, as you said Alison, it gives the very interested ones an educational opportunity. Rick has said that there are several people who participated in the Children's Show at State College who went on to art careers.

  • I'm making an assumption here that this director hasn't surveyed the patrons. Those are the people he/she needs to please. Everything else is moot until you know what your customers desire.

    That doesn't throw shade on the suggestions offered. Great ideas that could follow once you know what your audience wants.

This reply was deleted.