Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Some of them (at least) have lost deposit monies, as well as anything spent on publicity or staffing, so it's not just "greed". If they couldn't get back deposits, they may now be in the red, unless they had "event cancellation insurance".
I had plans this current year for 5-6 shows, which is about what we did the year before. This year 2 of them actually "made." The one in August, we decided against it because covid was hot and heavy there. Did not want to risk it for several reasons so we backed out. Yes, we lost the booth fee but we had peace of mind.
The other one that made was this past weekend. They had it where shoppers could pre-purchase tickets. They sold 42 presold last year. This time they presold around 700, is what I was told. I am not sure how many actually attended yet but hope to find out. During the show this weekend, dh and I decided the show was not what it used to be. We decided it was not good enough to prepare stock, load up tote after tote of smalls & also furniture, only to break even.
In fact, for next year we are limiting our shows to one promoter. They do a spring and a fall and we are already lined up for the spring. We will apply to the fall when the time comes. This has been one of our best shows. We want to concentrate on one show and go all out for it, do it big, so to speak.
The remainder of the year we will concentrate on local selling, my booth in our B/M store. Dh carved out a space to have my booth there. I have recently added a tiny booth in a neighboring town. I am not sure how long I'll stay there. If things don't improve in sales for my booth, I'll be getting out sooner rather than later. I'll also be able to concentrate on my website, getting things added, promoting it so I can get more exposure away from home. I will not ship things are not feasible to ship like furniture. However anything that can reasonably be packed and shipped is fair game.
I also need to spend my immediate time getting my shop back under control. It looks like a set of dysfunctional twins, Chaos and Disorder, spent the weekend here partying while we were working the show.
The last few years, I have been highly organized with show schedules, deadlines, applying in multiple categories, etc. This year, well, like everyone lese, that went out the window.
I backed out of shows, that I wanted to do for a long time, finally got accepted this year (2020), that for some reason were not cancelled, August, October, November and upcoming in January. I am re-invited to Scottsdale (March), out doors, Chicago uptown (June, I think), Main ST Ft worth and 4 or 5 others. I am expecting to do those shows, but on health matters, if I feel I need to cancel, I will cancel; same for the shows, if they feel they need to cancel, they'll cancel. No one is happy about it, but we can all make the business calculation that lost booth fees are less than ER hospital costs and/or funeral expenses.
I am also waitlisted for two shows (La Quinta and another one); the shows that I will do have to be outdoors, and either be limited access (charging a gate fee) or have a reputation for attracting an educated crowd. In short, the best shows are handling this in the best manner possible, as are the best promotors (Scope, Amdur, Howard Alan, Thunderbird)
In addition to being an abstract aluminum sculptor for 15 years, I am also a Lapidary gem cutter, I used the time this summer to build a second studio for my rock saws; finally got around to doing a complete mechanical restoration on an 1955 highland park 24" slab saw that I bought 12 or so years ago, and has been in storage, just started using it last week, works great, perhaps next week I will feed it a 175 pound jade boulder that I have had for awhile, see what the inside looks like)
Echoing what others have said, pay attention to a show's refund policies. I want to encourage you though to keep trying; when you feel it is safe to do so, apply to more shows; many of the first tier shows for 2021 will be filled with 're invited' artists from 2020, so think about the 2nd and 3rd tier shows. Also, you may want to do shows close to home, where you can sleep in your own bed at night (health reasons, who was using the hotel room air last), and do not have to eat out in restaurants (also airborne health reasons).
One leading show (ACC, American Craft Council) made the decision to not have any of their shows in 2021, hopefully in 2022 I will get re-invited back.
Happy Thanksgiving to all
We are signed up for two roll over shows for late July and mid August. I’m not sure we will be able to do them. I have applied for a job that is full time and hope to be working by February 2021. Shows have become expensive vs. return and physical hard on my wife. We would be financially secure if I get this regular job. It has nothing to do with my art but is a great opportunity. I could do my custom orders on the side and maybe do one big show a year. If I do not get this job then we are rethinking our options what little they are.
I am watching the vaccine news and also what research a group at church is doing about reopening maybe in July 2021. I can either do shows or stay home and fill saddle orders. One time slot for summer, when I normally don't build saddles, has filled and I'm communicating with other potential clients now. Plan now is to do one Memorial Day show (pending analysis of virus), skip June, one show in late July, one in mid August and wrap it up with a Labor Day show. My inventory of belts, gun leathers etc. doesn't generate cash flow unless I do shows.