Montrose Arts & Crafts Fair in Montrose California, it's turning into a flea market. The booth across the way was selling import & export items from Africa. This is an expensive juried show! A lot of the seasoned art vendors around me told me that many artists dropped Montrose off their list of shows this year, so to fill space the sponsors allowed anyone in. Are other shows doing that this year?

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  • I have learned from experience, as a promoter (although I find myself to be more of a craft artist as I do more shows than promote them), that it isn't as black and white as many think it is when it comes to handling those who misrepresent themselves and sneak past juriors. Ask other promoters and I am sure they will admit that they (and the jury) have been duped at least once. Of course promoter should follow their own rules. Why make rules if you can't follow them in the first place? But as artists we need to make sure the rules state if people will be asked to leave, if they won't be invited back, etc. Many promoters hands are tied though regarding asking people to leave - depending on how it is worded on the forms. Why? There is a potential liability that can be had. What if the guilty party is not willing to leave and causes a harmful situation - would you like to be a neighbor to that? Depending on the venue, vehicles are not allowed on the premises so people cannot pack up early. The same goes for guilty parties that are asked to leave - their packing up in the middle of a hustling and bustling "open for business" show can and most likely will endanger the patrons and possibly other exhibitors - getting their electricity unhooked, trucking merchandise and closing canopies can easily hurt people, and the list goes on. Then there is the problem of having empty spaces at events - no one likes that. I can tell you, there are some sneaky, shrewed people out there that will falsify photos (showing "hands" hand making the work - but is it really the artists hands???), lie on their application about what they do, and so on. It isn't until the day of the show and sometimes after the event is open that the fraudulent party is caught in the act - and in those cases it is too late to excuse them, but can very well be black listed once and for all - this is most likely kept between the promoter and the guilty party though.

    There might only be just a few out of hundreds of "artists" who are guilty of this at one event and for some of those promoters they may just feel that it is better black listing them might be the best option at the time so they can focus on other things like making sure all get electricity, if a neighbor needs security due to a possible theft or issue with a neighboring exhibitor, lost children, assisting staff, etc. Believe me I am not an advocate for promoters not going back on their word and truly feel sorry for you in the really bad experience at the event you were just at, but as with many cases it isn't always black and white when it comes to situations like this.

    The best thing I think any artist can do is open the lines of communication - like you did Kathryn - and talk to the promoters and let them know how you feel about things. It will light a fire for them to change their jury practices - having a committee if not the promoter themselves walk the show before it opens, request the applications/contracts/rules be changed, offer suggestions that you have noticed other event organizers due that correct the very situation. These are all suggestions promoters need to hear to get some sort of change to occur. Remember, promoters want to make money too - have happy patrons coming back each year (telling their friends to go too) and the same for artists - wanting to come back each year because each year sales are growing too. The last thing a promoter wants is people having a bad time and them brag to their hundreds of friends about how awful their experience is at "xyz" show. If artists take their money elsewhere and not saying why, promoters will have no idea what they can do to fix the situation(s).

    I do hope that with your future shows this never happens again, as I myself hope it doesn't happen at the shows I will be participating in too. It really can ruin your day, but just remember keep your focus on the prize and make your customers happy and keep buying from you while you are at the fair - not even giving them the hint that you are boiling on the inside - liar exhibitors or not it can still be a really good show for you.
  • If an artist misrepresents themselves and an art fest does nothing about it, then is not the art festival misrepresenting themselves? I have already been at one show where the misrepresenting artist was asked to leave. I have also been at other shows where in the past the quality was high but this year they allowed in more art that was too similar to other artists. They also allowed in some art forms that they have never allowed in before. At least in this case they kept the quality high regardless of those items be high end craft rather then fine art.
  • I did get a response from the sponsor and she gave me a different story, saying at least half a dozen booths misrepresented themselves at the show...but nothing was done about it....they weren't ask to leave.
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