Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Hi, All -
This week I'm headed to the Savannah show. Have any of you done the show recently? My concerns are:
1) the City is requiring every artist to obtain a business license from their Dept of Revenue at a cost of $85.
2) Artists have told me there are steps down to the riverfront show area requiring you to dolly up to the steps, unload, carry your stuff down the steps, reload, and dolly to your spoce. This can't possibly be true ... is it?
3) the show has stated that the many/most of the 10x10 spaces will have permanent park benches in the back of the spaces. Please say it's not so !
I am close to staying home on this one and walking away from a $295 display fee. Please answer up quickly and accurately on this. Is this show worth doing???
- Robert Green - Photographer - Winter Park FL
Rob, One thing I can tell you is to park in a paid parking lot or garage. I did a show there last November, and on the weekends the meters a free, but a bar next to my parking space was having an event that night and there were no signs on the meters at 8:30 that morning. I discovered my car gone later that night. The festival director was fantastic ( Tellfair art show ) and helped me get the car back, the police officer who helped me admitted that the street had not been marked untill later that morning and my car was towed illegally. From talking to people who live in Savanna this is quite common, a city moneymaker. There was no permit required but this seems to be a new thing in many cities, one more way to get money, and something shows directors should put in the show prospectus so we know BEFORE we apply. I want to know what my booth costs will actually be before I apply, not oh and you need such and such permit to the tune of $50-$100 in addition to the already hefty booth fee.
It's been a long time since I've been to Savannah - graduated from SCAD in 1992, left town in 1994. But remembering what River Street is like, it sounds like point number 2 is probably correct, and unless they've paved River Street, you'll be facing a dolly path across a cobblestone street. Have you tried Google Earth or satellite views of the festival area? It might give you a better idea of what you're facing. Also, was the info about the business license/park benches in your prospectus? I've learned to read those pretty carefully before I send in my jury fee. Many towns and cities are starting to require a business/sales tax license for people selling at festivals, and some of them are not cheap. Not sure if this is a result of needing more revenue in hard times, a response to the complaints of storefront owners (there are many on River Street), or a combination of the two. But it pays to do your homework before applying so you're fully informed. If they are just dropping this on you the week before the show, then that's not cool and I would suggest you call the show promoter and talk to them.
Hi, Jacqueline and Courtney - Thanks for the info. The business license requirment was communicated to everyone via an email few weeks ago, pretty well after jurying. I got the impression the show organizers were surprised by the requirment as well.
This is an extract from their email of March 29: "Because of a new enforcement of an existing City of Savannah Ordinance (Code 1977, § 6-1601 to § 6-1618--6-1700 – Reserved), the City of Savannah is requiring all vendors to make application for a City of Savannah Business Tax Certificate. The fee is $85 per year and must be submitted to the City of Savannah Department of Revenue prior to your next show. We realize this is unexpected and short notice. We hope you will apply for the certificate and remain active participants in our festival. ".
- Bob Green
Wow. Not cool at all. That's a night or two of hotel expenses. The show promoters should have been in the loop about this with the city and been communicating with the artists about this possibility instead of just dropping it on you. It also sounds like they won't be surprised if folks bail out of the show. It looks like you have a tough decision to make.
In the NW it's common for the show promoters to negotiate a three-day biz license fee with the city & collect that amount from the artists when they collect the booth fee. It's common for that charge to be around $15. It's crazy to charge visiting artists for a year.
Rob I am a photographer this is a tourist show, the photographers that did well all had almost exclusively Savannah shots, that's fine local artist doing good if you have good Savannah shots go for it if not your choice
I've done many of the River Street shows which happen monthly and this particular one a few times. The business license requirement seems new, I've not recalled that before. I remember they'd give you a sales tax form for the show, but Savannah is cracking down all over lately on proper business formalities.
There's basically 2 ways to load in/out....get a space on either end of River Street in the lots, and dolly in without dealing with steps. Or, find a temporary spot on actual River Street and unload to a sidewalk, carry down steps, then dolly in. The second way is more painful to your feet and ankles but could be faster. They usually give you a lot pass so you don't have to pay to park.
As to the benches, yes, some do. Not most, but some. However, they're usually generous with your spaces and you can usually work around the benches. I've had one at the back of my booth and it wasn't a big deal...I tied to it for stability and used it to sit on and stack things on. You usually have plenty of room in the back and sides. Unless you get crammed together, you'll have enough room to make use of your outside walls.
The shows on River street generally just attract the usual crowd who happens to be there. Sometimes its a lot of people, sometimes not. It's high tourist time in Savannah, so there should be crowds. However, if it rains or is cold, there won't be. The crowd doesn't necessarily even realize there is an art fair going on.
All that said, I've done some great money making shows on River Street, but it'd be a crapshoot. I currently have a gallery in City Market which is a few blocks up off of River street, and the economy around here is doing better than the last few years. I've done a lot more sales this year than last. The hotels are reporting record breaking attendance each month.
All in all I'd say its worth a shot....if you like the show, there's one on the River the first weekend of every month except Jan/Feb.... The rest of them aren't juried to the same standard as this one, but they can all be good.
Hope that helps
Thanks for all the good advice, Stephen ! I think I'll give it a shot. From the statements by the show organizers, I expected a minimal 10x10 space with no ability to display on external sidewalls. So, I was planning to take about half my usual inventory to the show but based on your comments, I think I'll take more work with me. The load in/out definitely sounds like a pain but I now have a better picture of the situation. Thanks, again.
Sure, no problem. I'll stop down there and say Hi!
Hi, Stephen - I decided not to do the show. The 70% rain forecast pretty much did it for me. The difficult load in/out would put my matted and framed photography at risk. Thanks, again, though.
So sorry to hear this, Sarah. I did a show like this a couple of years ago and it totally sucked. The blow to my ego was almost as bad as the blow to my ability to get home from the show - I had to do it on just the cash I brought for change. It will get better. At least now you know that your work doesn't really sell to tourists. :^)
It sounds like you probably dodged a bullet. I was up in my shop and felt bad for those down there....seemed like the rain and forecasts for rain were dooming it. One of my friends down there basically said it barely worth it...had rain damage. I've sold some big pieces down there but then again I probably sold a lot of small prints too. I do agree they don't promote it at all-I asked people all day and no one knew it was going on. I think the promoters assume all the tourists go down on River Street, but I think many don't bother because they assume it's all bars and trinkets (which is the direction it's headed for the last few years...a few of the good galleries have closed, only to be replaced by junk shops).