Effect change at Fine Art Shows

How to effect change at the shows we do.

When we see or experience things that are wrong at the shows, how do we addrees them?

If supposed "artists" are violating the rules, what do we do?

Examples might be:

Breaking down prior to set times.

Bringing vehicles in prior to set times.

Buy / sell

Bead stringing (simple, not where they made or colored the beads themselves).

Representative instead of artist presence.

Kit work.

Not having created themselves.

50% off signs.

Just examples, there are many more...

The question is:

What should / could we fine artist's do to effect change?

Some promoters just feel they are renting real estate.  Some do not understand what this is doing to our beloved field.  some are not aware of the wrongdoings. 

We are not going to change the offending "artist's" as they know what they are doing and don't care. How do we get the promoters / directors to police and enforce, better?

If we don't, our future is bleak.

Ideas? Collective bargaining? monetary? advertising / public shamming? 

I have personally spoken to some promoters, when I have experienced this, to no avail.  They do not seem to understand, this will eventually hurt them too.  I have read in the rules that if certain things happen, the "artist" will be evicted, immediately. Then when the promoter is made aware, they say "oh. they wont be welcomed back next year." Next year, they were back :-( 

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  • Many a promoter claim, as was aforementioned "on the lookout for new quality work." However they then let in the "Vendors" B/S etc. Kit work or low end, etc.  we need to get them to understand, if they do such, we will effect change with our power of the purse.

    How about an addendum to the show contract... if the promoter lets in the "vendors...etc" we get our booth fee back?

    Any promoter willing to sign off on this?

    Think about it. The promoter gets to make us qualify via jury and hold us accountable. Why can't we make them accountable?

    • As the founder of Art Spectacular at the Carillon in Springfield, IL, I want to let you all know that at least one promoter is equally concerned about 'vendors' who are NOT true "artists" (making their own artwork), who 'scam' their way into juried fine art fairs. in the past 2 years, I've noticed that they apply verrry late, assuming, I think, that they have a better chance of getting 'in' when numbers of applications may be declining. 

      Even with the jury process, on-site 'inspectors' and my personal observation and full-time presence, it sometimes happens.  Thankfully, Art Spectacular artists know that I WANT to know any suspicious activity, preferably on day #1, and that I will/do investigate it.  I do that by talking with other participating artists in the specific media and getting their opinions/recommendations, and then acting.  Only last year did I learn about a website that focuses on suspicious 'artists' and now that is one of our resources - used already to decline an application this year. 

      Last year, Art Spectacular was ranked #18 in the country by Sunshine Artist Magazine, and I believe it is due to the jury's attempt each year to increase the quality of original artwork presented by our artists, which has resulted in our patrons and artists loving Art Spectacular.  With a maximum of 50 artists, we rarely have that many due to our commitment to artwork quality - and the event rules and policies.   This may not bring the greatest number of artists to an art fair, but it will improve/enhance patron attendance and, more importantly, purchased artwork.  Even last year, in the midst of the remnants of a hurricane, many of the artists who 'stuck it out' at Art Spectacular did well - meaning that the patrons who did come were customers, rather than tire kickers. 

      (BTW, I agree with many of you - I use 'artist' instead of 'vendor' - your creative work is much more time consuming, inspiring and worthy - than 'vendor' who provides a needed service.)  

    • "How about an addendum to the show contract... if the promoter lets in the "vendors...etc" we get our booth fee back?"

      That would be OK for local exhibitors-- but what about those who have traveled quite a ways, and have paid for hotel, and possibly other expenses related to the show (beyond the booth fee)? Or, I suppose, if the promoter let you know far enough in advance that those expenses could be canceled without any penalty, it wouldn't be too bad-- except you probably won't be able to "pick up" another show for that time period, and so lose out on expected income. Something along the line of a class action suit would probably be needed to get back all you lose-- and of course, a large portion of the judgment would doubtlessly go to the legal council/court fees.

      My "never again" show promoter, though, didn't bother to tell anybody already signed up about the changes to allow in "home businesses of all kinds"; it would have been less costly in terms of time, effort, and frustration to have withdrawn, even if I didn't get the fee returned. No sales, and it took me a week to recover physically.

      • I am only now learning about NAIA even though I have been dong shows for 20 plus years. I wonder if they have a list of "approved shows' that adhere to set standards. It almost seems like artists need a formal contarct with promotors to keep the crap from being foisted on them. I personally have not had the problems written about here, but now my shows are confined to Colorado. I have done shows in AZ, WY, TX and KS. 

        • NAIA has been around for 20 years or more. It was a terrific initiative when it started and made renegade shows quake and standardized many of the procedures around the business. It has mostly been handled by artist volunteers who devoted infinite hours to its development. Through the years many got exhausted and had to go back to earning a living, not only helping others in this business. My husband and I were charter members and I used to be a columnist for their newsletter. It is still there and can help artists with problems and is the only central clearinghouse for our business. 

          • That seems to be the problem a lot of guilds, charities and other non-profits have. More and more work to do, and fewer people willing and able to pitch in. :( 

            Too many expect "somebody else" to do it. The ones who try to support and maintain the group, eventually burn out, or like you, cannot continue due to lack of time because of work/family obligations. And then... "everybody" wonders why the group is no longer like it was.

  • it is possible that a national association of fine artists and craftsmen would work. The by laws say we no longer apply to shows that don't meet our criteria. After all it worked in England 500 years ago with craftsmen's guilds. King George didn't like it. The NAFAC also rates promoters from A1 to total worthless. We don't rate shows.,we only announce which ones we boycott. We aggressively report the crap in “fine art” shows and the S**t promotors that allow it just to sell space. We have a go ahead and sue us if you wish attitude. I would gladly pay a yearly dues. I would gladly fly to the first meeting. Someone must have some abilities to set up something like this. I dont.
    • Barry Shandler, it may already exist but needs more artist support????

      The mission of the National Association of Independent Artists is to strengthen, improve and promote the artistic, professional and economic success of artists who exhibit in art shows. We are committed to integrity, creativity, and the pursuit of excellence and we advocate for the highest ideals and practices within all aspects of the art show environment.

      10-15 Year Vision Statement

      The National Association of Independent Artists is THE resource for all things related to artists who show at art shows. It is the nationally respected organization with professional staff that represents and is governed by artists and networks with show directors and communities that support art show events.

      Approved January 2007

      • I think that in some ways art shows may be coming full circle.

        If you look at the history of shows- most started small and local, put on by artists or art associations. Booth fees were around $25 and local artists participated. Eventually some galleries closed, and those artists as well as those who did the BMAC for wholesale began to exhibit at the local shows, some driving quite a distance to get there. Promoters had lights turned on in their heads and saw the potential- made their shows larger, charged high booth fees, and often dropped the local artists and worked on bringing in out of the area artists, and billing their shows "national."

        Kaytee has good points concerning local art groups.

        Eventually things could go in reverse due to artists giving up on all of these large shows that charge huge fees then break all of their rules. 

        It would help all of us if the promoters would not see shows as a huge moneymaker and go back to reasonable booth fees. That would make it easier for local artists to support their local shows. I have seen a return to customers wishing to purchase locally and support us.

        I have been living in the State College PA area for the past ten years and have done the Central PA Festival of the Arts for the past ten years. 


        I see many returning customers who tell me they like to purchase from me because I am local. 

        The booth fee for this show is $550, but I do believe that the shows have gone too high for artists who want to stay true to their work and play by the rules.

        Art organizations are good and we should do our best to support them, agreeing with all here.

        The best thing that we have right now is talking to each other about shows. Good to have a forum like this one. (Thanks, Connie)

        I don't see this issue going away as long as shows put the money first. 

        Online- there is Amazon, Ebay, and now Etsy. Etsy started as handmade and vintage only, grew, now has a former ceo of either Amazon or Ebay working for them, keeps adding more non handmade items, and is pushing for things that the other two sites do, such as give free shipping. Pretty soon Etsy will be the same as the other two sites, as it is putting growth as a priority instead of remaining a place to buy creative/handmade items.

        I can see the same similarities with the shows. If money comes first, the quality declines.

        Not all promoters wish to see their shows go this way. I have discussed this with some and they are constantly on the lookout for new quality work.

        • Agree that some of the better shows, at least here in CO, are put on by local art/business organizations and are about 100-125 booths. Most arists do well at these depending on medium.Iavoid like the plague the "esoteric museums on the street" shows, but of course they avoid me as "we don't want shit kickers (western lifestyle) " in our show. A good laugh about Cherry Creek in Denver several years ago, they let in a very high end custom western boot maker friend, but just down the street they also let in Rocket Buster Boots, a Texas production outfit that had just started up. What do jurors know??????

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