Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Hello - I haven't posted for a bit, but I always come here for advice for sure - I know no other place I'd rather ask this question.
I've never cancelled out of a show that I was accepted into, and paid the booth fee. I've been lucky to have no emergencies/scheduling conflicts/etc. that meant I wasn't able to do the show at the last minute. I don't travel super far (usually no more than an hour from home), so never had to accrue travel expenses of any substance.
That being said. This weekend looks to be possibly brutal with heat in the area of the show I'm signed up for. There's an excessive heat warning until tomorrow evening, with indices to 110. Storms coming, possible "strong gusty winds" tomorrow (especially PM) AND Sunday. Temperature drops to reasonable on Sunday, but definite strong chance of rain/scattered thunderstorms.
It's a quite small show. I've never done it. Don't know this area that well (it was my "wild card" kind of show). Did a show last week that was profitable but hot. So I know how I fare in strong heat (frankly, not great). But I can do it, I've done it before. I don't have another show until beginning of August, and although I have other small income streams, I want to make sure I make money! But without a crystal ball, there's no way to know if people will just stay home vs go to a small show with heat and threat of storms. And of course, the booth fee will be forfeit.
How common is it for artists to cancel? I don't have to set up until tomorrow AM, so am debating today. Is it terrible? I'm fighting guilty feelings and feeling foolish for spending $ on a show I may not attend; but these are all risks, right? Just trying to balance the loss of income vs. health/comfort issues. And feeling like I shouldn't abandon a show without even trying it.
What do all of you do? Thoughts?
Too late to make a difference in your decision-making, but I have cancelled due to weather, more as a result of weather. We had tornadic winds at home the week before and had 5 trees down in our yard, so had to attend to those. The older I get, the more tempted I am to cancel because of weather, but haven't actually done so. Our last show was in 95* heat with heat index of 105* setting on a city street, asphalt, no shade. We actually had to tear down early in the face of a huge thunderstorm coming into the area, tents flying, etc., just a mad dash.
What did you decide to do?
Hi Kathleen! I actually decided to cancel. I think it was ultimately a good idea for Saturday, as the heat index hit 113, there was almost no shade there, and then - the end of the day, a big storm rolled in with apparently big gusts of wind...and hail.
Of course, Sunday was MUCH better; which of course meant that I then felt bad I cancelled - it's so funny how (like others have said here) we are inclined to not really withdraw from shows and just "ride it out". Even though I knew how bad it was the day before, I kept wondering, "well, what if I had just done it?"...
I once did a show with actual temp of 106. (I think it was before "real feel" was being measured.) It was horrible, even with 2 large fans, and I had very few sales.
Many years ago, before canopies. We drove an hour to the show in hard rain. Got there around 7 am and decided to not set up. Remember- no canopy.
Talked to my friends the next day who told me that by the time the show opened, the weather was good, and about 25% less booths, as others also did not stay and set up. Result--- the artists who were there did great. So I wished that I would have stayed!
Otherwise, I have done 4 shows that I can remember that were so hot and miserable that I wished I wasn't there. I made enough to cover all costs- about $1200-$1500 at these shows, which I thought was remarkable, but that is really not enough money for all of the misery.
To answer your question- I don't know. But I would consider it.
I didn't see this before your show, but I think artists and crafters don't often cancel because of weather. But I could have written this question word for word. I asked the same question on Facebook in a Crafters group. Not many in that group cancelled out of their shows. But I did. I was supposed to do a show where I was going to have to stay in a motel, so I had the booth fee and the added expense of the motel and food. The forecast for the area I was going was in the low 90's and the heat index of over 100. I felt it was too dangerous to set up and sit out in those conditions for 10+ hours. And, how many customers are going to actually be out in it and shop in that heat? I did call the person running the show a couple of days before to tell her (that's just common courtesy), and I think she thought I was crazy. But after the weekend and hearing about how slow all shows in the area were, I was glad I cancelled. I think I would have had a much bigger loss than just the booth fee. And I didn't end up in the hospital with heat exhaustion/stroke. Sometimes its just not worth your health to do these shows.
Having done craft shows for just over 20 years, I now refuse to travel to a show and spend hours setting up in bad weather and I've missed out on several shows over the years due to wind, rain or heat and although I don't book Summer shows at all, we all know that there can be a sudden heat wave. Only speaking for myself (and I could be wrong) but as a customer I know I wouldn't bother to attend an outdoor event in bad weather and I don't expect others to do so either. I realize there are die hard attendees that will show up anyway but I don't feel its worth the risk for my business and in the case of rain and or wind, the potential loss of product or my tent. My regular customers know I won't be there if the weather is bad. BTW, I do have battery operated fans, a device that sprays a mist of water and cooling towels in case of heat but I prefer to stay home rather than put myself or my helper through the misery of having to re-load the vehicle at the end of the day.
Thanks Lenore! I felt the same way. I do feel we are sort of "trained" to brave the elements; but when you know it could be dangerous, balancing out the pros and cons of going vs. not is a tough one. I did tell the people running this show ahead of time; but I think their reaction was similar to the one you received. I don't like the thought that I've burned a bridge here, but hopefully she was okay with my choice this time, if I decide to apply for future shows.
I agree that we are trained to to brave the elements. Several events were cancelled altogether that weekend. Even so, I felt really guilty about cancelling going to this one show. And, I am in a show Labor Day weekend run by the same woman. So, just by fate, we'll probably have a hurricane (I am in Connecticut) and have to cancel again! LOL! I hope that's not the case, but we'll see.
Once we were doing a show run by a friend, pretty decent one, but Saturday was very windy and it didn't look good for Sunday. We packed up at the end of the day and didn't come back. My husband had health issues, so she was understanding. We just weren't up to the physical nature of the day, his health was more important.
Thanks Connie - it's hard to balance the health issues with heat and storms/wind etc. I've ridden out flooding and other craziness, and some hot days; but this one in particular seemed like it could be bad. I think it was pretty bad for Saturday. If only the days had been flipped; I could have had a nice day on Saturday and then decided what to do regarding Sunday; but of course the bad day was the first one.
I don't have serious health issues but my tolerance for heat and humidity especially are very low; and although I've never been diagnosed with asthma, I have many members of my family who have it; and I do get a little wheezy when it's humid and super hot. This show, too, had no place nearby to cool off; which I've needed in the past to get breaks from the heat.
Nice to know I'm not alone in this!
yes...it seemed like a better option than driving through a hurricane.
Over the 2+ decades I've been doing shows, there have been some events for which I wish I had cancelled my participation due to weather - but only one show where I actually did so. Fourty-eight hours prior to the show, the weather map got really ugly, as 2 solid days of severe thunderstorms and high winds became imminent. During this timeframe, the event management's instructions to artists went from the standard "no stakes allowed" to "all tents must be securely staked into the ground". I called the event director and let her know that while I truly wanted to participate, I simply could not risk losing my entire booth set-up (pop-up jewelry store complete with glass cases) and tens of thousands of dollars' worth of fine jewelry. I commended her for her courage in pressing on, and I wished her well with the event. She understood that for me this was a business decision and that I had a duty to mitigate my losses, and we ended the call on a positive note with her assuring me I'd be welcome at the event in the future. The hotel I booked at a low no-cancellation rate even refunded me my room in full when I told them why I had planned to be there and why I had to cancel.
In weighing a decision to back out of any show, you need to remember that we do shows to sell our work and each show is a business venture. You have to weigh the revenue potential against the risks of losing all or a substantial part of your capital investment (tent & booth components) as well as your inventory (your artwork). For me as a jeweler, both the booth components and the jewelry represent tens of thousands of dollars of investment in terms of capital costs and raw materials (not to mention my time) - so I weigh each event using these factors.
If the weather forecast is for potentially catastrophic conditions and you are close enough to the event timewise such that the weather forecast has a high likelihood of accuracy, then for the sake of your business and livelihood - not just at the show in question but for other shows in the near future - you have to weigh the potential gains versus the potential losses when considering the possibility of cancellation.