I’m concerned about what tomorrow will bring.
I’m concerned about what the future holds.
As an artist, I’m concerned about what the art world will become. Especially about the business of art shows.
It appears to me and is quite obvious that the normality in the art world as we know it will never be the same again.
As a Florida resident, I usually do 18-20 shows a year. Most of them are in the South East US. My last art show was in March of this year with the balance of my schedule being cancelled due to the Covid virus.
Even though some shows are starting to accept applications for their fall and spring schedule in hope that some form of normalcy will return, most shows are being cancelled for the balance of this year.
But as of today, I’m concerned about even applying to these shows let alone accepting an invitation to participate. I’m concerned of not knowing what new CDC guidelines will be in effect and not knowing what to expect when these shows again open their gates.
Promoters of these shows, whether they are an Art League, Government Entity, or Privately Promoted, are bound and obligated to adhere to the new and ever changing guidelines that are being imposed by the CDC on a daily basis. These promoters are doing a fantastic job and are working tirelessly to provide a safe and enjoyable venue.
But I’m concerned, as the old saying goes, “If we build it, will they come?”
I’m concerned about some of the CDC guidelines that promoters are looking at:
Controlling the amount of patrons allowed in the venue at any one time either by head count or by having patrons enter by a designated appointment time only. Limiting the amount of entry points to better control the entrants. Conducting a Covid 19 survey (temperature check) of each entrant as they pass through the gate. Tents may be required to have two or three sides open for better air circulation and two to ten feet (or more) apart from one another. Controlling the quantity of patrons allowed in your tent at any one time. Obviously, face coverings must be worn by both vendors and guest at all times. Sanitation stations must be strategically placed throughout the event and most artists should supply hand sanitizer within their tent or close by (If you can find any and the artists expense). I’m not sure about the food court area, which I assume will warrant an exception to the face mask guidelines while eating. But this will cause a “no eating and walking” by art show guest while meandering throughout the art show. Perhaps food vendors will not even be invited to the event. This is still an item promoters are uncertain about. Musicians and other forms of entertainment is another topic.
I’m concerned about some of the CDC potential guidelines that artists may be faced with:
Most events will most likely reduce the number of invitees to gain the extra real estate for expanded tent assignments. This translates into greater competition for juried invitations.
I’ll talk about traveling and lodging while going to and while at the event later in this article.
When you arrive at the event, check in may be handled a little differently. They may require a temperature/health check and/or survey on all artists along with their associates. Most of the time when I check in, there is usually a crowd of artists and volunteers congregated at the sign in desk. Obviously, social distancing and masking must now be enforced.
Set up probably will go unencumbered due to the fact that your booth neighbor will be two to ten feet from you and should maintain that distance. The exception to your booth set up may be now you have to work with a new configuration to allow for 2 or 3 sides to left open. I’m not sure how this will allow larger pieces to be hung. But this should not be a major concern because artists are creative and will adapt.
Establishing a “no touch” environment within your tent is going to be quite an adventure. Plastic sleeves and framed artwork will not suffice and is not going to be the cure all. I’m not sure how jewelry artists will get around this. Wiping every piece after a try on will be quite cumbersome. I think bins of sleeved photographic art, which in the past, has allowed patrons to shuffle through the bin will now be a thing of the past. And you can’t touch that piece of glass or ceramic.
A large concern will be when a customer is in your tent contemplating whether to purchase or not, and another customer is anxiously waiting to enter your tent. Of course with 2 or 3 sides open, this might alleviate this concern. Where do you complete the sale, do you take them behind the tent or relinquish the social distancing rule and stay within the public area. If your tent is set up in a normal fashion, perhaps a rope across the front will prevent unauthorized entry (Or at least controlled entry). You could have a sign on the rope that says “call this phone number for service” and the artist will come running, (Kind of joking, but maybe not).
Where is the artist going to place themselves? Where are you going to stand or sit. Behind the tent out of harm’s way is probably the safest place, but is not the best place to answer questions or conduct a sale. Possibly behind an acrylic shield would suffice, but obviously this would be a deterrent for an artist/buyer relationship. Are you going to wear gloves with your face mask, and how are you going to handle money transactions? Wiping every credit card with alcohol wipes would be mandatory along with your square or POS machine. I’m not sure about cash sales though, but, I think it would be impractical to wipe every dollar bill with a wipe. J
Breakdown should go without much anxiety. The exception being, concerning yourself whether a particular item was previously touched while it was out of your sight and now possibly contaminated with Covid. Will every panel, shelf, display case, and every other item that may have been touched by a patron need to be wiped down? And before you get back in your van or truck, you should wash your hands and then wipe all of your vehicles interior space.
Florida is one of the hardest hit areas in the country right now for the Covid virus. Traveling to the various shows throughout Florida may be quite daunting. (Let’s hope things turn for the better in the 4th quarter. But as of today’s date, finding safe places to eat will definitely be a major concern. Let’s hope all waiters and staff are masked and customers are seated a safe distance apart from one another. If you need to use the restroom, be careful with what you touch. When you go into a restaurant (you should be masked also) and if you see unsafe CDC guidelines, do you leave and search for another restaurant or just go back to hotel room hungry? Most counties in Florida have now mandated mask for the entire public while in a public place. But as I mentioned before, the act of eating while in public areas will pose additional problems.
I think most hotels are providing safe welcoming atmospheres. Be sure they are maintaining social distancing requirements. And the receptionist and staff are behind Plexiglas or are well protected.
Most likely you will need to purchase gasoline sometime in your travels. You should have an extra pair of gloves with you so you can handle the gas nozzle safely. And don’t forget your credit card. It should also be wiped after you use it.
As an artist, I’m concerned about accepting and utilizing all these new guidelines. I’m concerned that the art shows attendance will be substantially less than previous years. Some patrons may feel the guidelines are sufficient and may attend, but some will still be concerned about their own safety and will not attend an art show no matter what. So I think it is quite obvious that attendance will definitely be off. I’m mostly concerned about exposing myself to groups/crowds of people at the risk of my own safety while at the show, or while traveling to and from a show. And if you’re doing a show every weekend, or every other weekend, or even once a month, you increase your health risks substantially.
I’m concerned even after all these points are considered, booth fees will remain the same. Even though promoters are doing an excellent job in trying to bring the best and safest art show to their locale, I understand they have their own set of expenses to contend with.
I love art shows.
I miss my friends.
I miss the public.
I want art shows to be the same as always.
But, I’m concerned.
I’m concerned about what tomorrow will bring.
I’m concerned about what the future holds.
As an artist, I’m concerned about what art shows will become in the future.
It appears to me and is quite obvious that normality in the art world, as we know it,
will never be the same again.