Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Overview of the show
Location – poor
Attendance – very poor, absolute show max 2,000 based on interpolated counts I took from 11-1 on Sunday (1,000 max where our booth was located). In reality I think it was in the 1000-1500 range and about 500 past our booth.
Sales – very poor
Weather – rain earlier in day on Friday, generally clear during show times on weekend
Let me start by saying that no matter what my opinion is, the numbers do not lie. Out of the 103 listed artists from the 2013 program, only 25 of them (including the show director) returned for 2014. This is a 75.7% turnover which signals that many artists did not feel the show was worth it, were rejected, or had another reason for not attending. In both 2013 and 2014 the application was reopened multiple times to try to fill the show.
We participated in the 2013 Art on the Rockies (AOTR) held in Edwards, Colorado. In doing research, I came across a 501c3 tax issue that I will discuss later.
The show advertises on zapplication with the title of Art on the Rockies |Vail, CO. The location is Edwards, CO at the Colorado Mountain College. Edwards is NOT Vail, CO. This is shady in my opinion and appears to be aimed at artists. This year they state they are located “8 miles from the famous Rocky Mountain community of Vail, 2 miles from upscale Beaver Creek and Avon…”. Not true. They are located about 14 miles to the heart of Vail and about 6 miles to Beaver Creek. I talked with many artists, including ones that participated in Cherry Creek the week before, who did not realize how far away from Vail the show actually was.
The domain name that they use is vailartsfest.com. I believe they use this domain so it can be confused with the true (and trademarked) Vail Arts Festival held in Lionshead Mall in Vail 2 weeks prior. The Lionshead show is a good show and has a lot more traffic.
For the 2013 show, AOTR stated in the application ““Booth Space - Each exhibitor receives a space located outdoors on asphalt.” They decided to change this and have artists in grass and on pavement. While at the 2013 Lionshead show, we decided to drive over to the College to see where our booth would be. Our booth location was supposed to be where 2-3 feet of grass and weeds stood (right side of walkway about 30 feet down).
Even with the tall grass and weeds, we could see a terrain issue that we (and others) would needed to prepare for. When we arrived on setup day, we were told our spot changed because of the rain that had come through. There was a drain culvert where our booth was originally marked. She moved our location into the field with the deer scat (literally), even further away from hard surface walkways. We had paid a premium for a corner booth as well. We were not happy at all. Other artist told us that everyone in the field was in such a bad location we "were not even part of the show". She also moved someone from the grass, to our original spot. My guess would be that the booths moved over a little so the culvert was not in the way.
There was extreme lack of planning from the event coordinator resulting in unknown terrain for proposed booth spots. She even told me something along the lines of it being a polo field while drawing the layout. After 2 years of running the event and being a teacher at the College, one would only assume that she would either have a mastery of the terrain or at a minimum walk outside to look. Our booth location was not the only one with issues. At least 6 new booth locations were created on the asphalt last minute (not on artist map). The booths with “unknown” terrain or water problems should have been taken care of first. Of which, only one was for a booth with terrain or water problem (Robert Behr). A couple of other notable booths based on the printed artist map:
#98 Colleen Everett (Show director) did not display, instead a painter by the name Whitney was in her spot. She was not listed as an artist anywhere. I assume this was a last minute addition.
#93 Rudy VanWel (Board Member) was a closed empty tent the whole weekend (seen in pictures). Someone could have been moved to this spot.
Next to booth #99 a spot was created for a used car for sale (this was supposed to be an art show, not a used car lot). I am not sure who the owner was, but there was a rumor it was Colleen’s daughter’s.
I will post the map tomorrow when I can scan it in.
Show images below along with 2x 360 degree panos (split into 3 sections each)
Of the artists that were stuck in the grass or under the “big tent”, very few covered booth fees (many with $0). During the show I approached Colleen and told here we were unhappy with all of the changes that were made (including what was contracted in the application) and wanted a refund. During the conversation that ensued, I tried to calmly explain why we wanted a refund. She was very rude on the other hand. In short, she said no and “had things to do” then walked away.
Now to the tax issue. As a 501c3 charity, they have not been filing their Form 990 taxes so people can see where the money is going. Since the show, I have requested copies of their Form 990’s many times. These are supposed to be available to the public by law. The first email I sent went unanswered. The second had the response from Colleen that said only “I have turned this over to the Vail Valley Arts League...”. I then asked for the contact information of the person I need to talk to. I have hand no response to any email since. From the IRS website, on August 11th, 2014 “The federal tax exemption of this organization was automatically revoked for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years”.
If anyone wants to do more research on them, I have put together some information below.
EIN - 37-1620004 – Vail Valley Arts Council, DBA Art on the Rockies, (Undocumented with the Federal Government but on documents with the state as Vail Valley Arts League Inc.)
Registered Agent – Colleen Sullivan Everett
Registered Address – 150 Miller Ranch Rd, Edwards, CO 81632-6420
Mailing Address – PO Box 4301, Edwards, CO 81632
In summary, I would not suggest this show to anyone.
I did this show in 2013 and although I eked out $3K at the eleventh hour I did not go back. I wrote a blog and review about it, and my pictures showed the same sparse crowds but no used cars LOL. I agree using VAIL in promoting the show is a long arm reach. It's EDWARDS folks and this is the business "strip mall" for the Vail Valley.
thanks for chiming in Richard. You've been so good with all your show reviews at ArtShowReviews.com, that I wanted you to specifically know we have (and are in the process of) revamped the site to make it more user friendly and better search. Hopefully that will increase the traffic and the # of reviews.
Forgot this: Cherry Creek artists beware. This show is promoted to you folks that are out here in Colorado as an add on to "make the trip worthwhile". I'ts not and don't be fooled. You have two years of very negative reviews to back it up.
Not only is it promoted to people that do Cherry Creek, but she contacts everyone that will be participating in Cherry Creek as soon as the list is posted.
Rule #2 - If the promoter is coming to you, it is probably a bad show.
After reading your review of this awful show i remembered that richard sherer from wrote about it in 2013 and did avoid it last year so thanks to richard that was not one of my co. destinations
Thorough, exhaustive dissection of this show and its issues. An early nominee for Blog Post of the Year, IMHO.