Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Has anyone done the Longmont Art Fair in Longmont, Colorado? We are traveling to Montana to Montana where we will do the Sweet Pea Art Fair in Bozeman, so decided to try to get another show on the way. We were accepted to the Longmont Art Fair, July 25-26. I haven't been able to find out anything about it. Any information is appreciated. Thanks, all.
He said, she said...with this kind of bickering and the tone that's going on here (from both sides) I really doubt that I will be applying to your shows even though I have been looking for a few in Colorado because I have friends there. I did want to point out that just reading through these threads made me feel really uncomfortable with you as a show organizer. Just left a feeling of unprofessionalism. The way you publicly accused Susan of doing things that you yourself did not witness and then accusing her of spreading third hand stories and lies...all very poor behavior and you did to her exactly what you accused her of doing about you. I hope you can get your shows together and start getting better reviews posted here. My constructive criticism? If I were you, I would put down the battle axe and see what you can do to have this removed because defensively attacking an artist who is unhappy for any reason about one of your shows is unprofessional. It doesn't matter that she may have ruffled your feathers - it really shouldn't be your initial response as a show promoter. If you look close enough, you can always find constructivism in a complaint. Instead of throwing out third hand news as fact about Susan, perhaps it would have gone better with a simple inquiry of "I would appreciate your feedback as to what we could have done better for the show's future". As a show producer, I'm sure that you already know you need to have a very thick skin and realize that not everyone is going to be happy, especially if it was a slow traffic show with few sales. All it takes is one artist to tell 10, then each of those ten to tell ten more and so on...you know what I mean. I'm not looking for a fight with you and I'm not on anyone's 'side' but this is my opinion as an outsider reading this review thread...it's not good.
Camille you are absolutely right and I do know what you mean, but I do not think that stating the truth when half true or totally untrue reports and rumors are flying around is considered bickering. It is simple stating our side of the story. We love artists - most of them are well mannered and professional.
Ok, contructive criticism time.
Danna, you need to proof read your printed information. So much conflicting info on the check-in sheet -- if it had all been consistent, a lot of these issues would have gone away. Does the show end at 3 or 4? Different info on that in different places - one place it says the show is at 4, in another breakdown is allowed at 3pm. Park north of park or in the lot? Who knows, the check in sheet has different info in different places on the sheet.
I heard from several artists of rude interactions with you (mostly due to these inconsistencies). All my interactions with you were pleasant and polite, but that is not the story I heard from others. I heard (from the artist themself, not 2nd hand) that you threatened to call the police (or rather, the "authorities") for someone leaving early - due to the inconsistent info on the forms, though in your defense, they were packing up even earlier than even the earliest time stated on the sheet - still, threats to call the police don't paint you or your company in the best light.
I can fully understand the feeling that everyone is ganging up on you, which it does appear to be the case. But as you stated in one of your replies, if the shows had had the traffic, everyone would have been peachy keen, totally fine on all these secondary issues - happy and overjoyed with the show(s) even! They would have been bending over backward to move their car, or keep their booth up, to stay in an awesome show producer's good graces!
So here's your constructive criticism: Don't charge a premium price for a show that doesn't warrant it. Get the audience up and all these little issues with cranky artists who are hot, bored, and waiting around for patrons to show up will probably go away, just as you said. $400-600 for a show that nets you sales totaling less than the booth fee isn't worth it, and that was the general opinion of the majority of the artists at the shows I attended.
I don't know the ins and outs of producing a show, and reading about the requirements from neighborhood, city, etc. was helpful and interesting. I am not sure that having an art + music festival worked out, maybe focusing on one or the other would have worked out better for either/both, which would free up budget for more advertising to bring traffic UP. Again - no clue as to the workings or psychological insight in how pairing these two events in the same show might help each other, but it didn't appear to help the artists at all in this case. You could have dropped a food vendor or two as well, as they probably didn't make their money back and there weren't enough people between them all. I am also not sure that having DirecTV, water delivery companies, Blinds/Windows/Shutters exhibiting as well helps the "ART SHOW" come across as a quality event either.
So my constructive criticism?
Get the traffic up. No one cares WHAT you did with advertising if it didn't pay off with traffic. Which it didn't. Until then, your shows aren't worth the artists' price of exhibiting - of both time and money. Everything else is gravy to that one fact. Your shows were a waste of our time.
Good luck to you and your events in the future, but I'll be staying away and warning others away until there are actually enough patrons in attendance.
Amy, Thank you. I'm ready to be done with this so I will reply one more time.
The Rules of Show and artist's agreement stated 4pm closing (this was due to artist's complaining last year that we closed too soon). One flier stated the incorrect time of 3pm - sorry, a typo but everywhere else that I know of had 4pm - public website and other advertising all stated 4pm.
I told artists leaving early that if needed me to I would call over our off duty policeman security guard to stand by my as I gave official request to not leave early. Yes, my bad but it is my duty to protect our guests from a potential ugly scene.
Let me know if you have figured out if a show warrants a $400 booth fee - before the show is produced - and how to secure a quality venue and adequately advertise on a thin budget.
We had 2 food vendors with entrees, 1 with ice cream and 1 with lemonade. Our coffee vendor was late with coffee (with no call or explanation) and I had to buy it for the artist's breakfast. Food vendors did make their money back ($150 per vendor cost) and they were happy with their earnings, according to the conversation I had with them.
The 4 commercial (Community Sponsors) booth fees paid for some of the advertising that is crucial to a show...especially a small new show. I think that most of the shows I have attended in Colorado have commercial vendors. They were in a discreet spot and in no way distracted from the show.
I distributed the list to the artists of the more than adequate advertising for show. Our Westword rep said our company paid for more advertising with them than any other show in Denver. Westword has a huge reach for people interested in weekend events. We had TV news coverage because I called all the stations to be sure they knew of the show
We cannot explain why the attendance was low and we feel bad about it but we are confident we produced a quality show. I will understand why you do not want to participate in our shows - in these early years. It was the same when we started the Salida show but now that its 7th year, many of those early year artists applied to be in this year's show but I have spoken to some others and they have decided that outdoor festival shows is too much of a gamble due to weather issues especially and are no longer exhibiting or only doing their local shows.
Not all Colorado shows are listed in the Colorado Dept. of Revenue list of special events with the form all set up for filing. There are various reasons including some cities are “home rule” and collect their own taxes and etc. The set up forms are no guarantee of exemption from incompetence in the Dept. I got dunned for a late fee from a show because I had “not listed districts correctly”. DUH! I sent a letter to the director and got a phone call and apology as the error was in their system. The latest on personal taxes is disallowing a charitable contribution through a State program for rural area charities. The minions downstairs are not knowledgeable of what the rest of the State is doing. So, don’t be surprised if your sales tax form gets kicked back, after it seems so easy to file.
Hopefully you'll see this question from me. I was wondering how Sweet Pea Art Fair was for you in August 2015? I'm local, inLivingston, MT so about 30 minutes drive to Bozeman. I just got accepted this year after applying for 3 years. I'm a jeweler and there have been a lot of jewelers at this show and others so fierce competition. There's another show on the same weekend that I also got accepted, so now I have to decide on which one. I couldn't find any reviews of Sweet Pea show on ArtFairInsiders so hoping that you could provide feedback of your experience there, especially sales volume. Thank you!
We have done the Sweetpea 3 times, and have had pretty good luck all three times. We have applied for this year, but since you have heard and we haven't, I'm concerned.
The volunteers at Sweet Pea have been great. There was food on Friday for set-up. One of the city's organizations provide a pancake breakfast on Sunday morning where artists are welcome. And we definitely have met some really interesting and fun neighbors. The problem of too many jewelers is everywhere, but I think that at Sweet Pea it definitely wasn't an overwhelming number, maybe 25%. We have done other shows where there have been 33% jewelry booths.
Load in and out is a pain because there is a one-way only entrance and exit. We have usually had to drag things up a pretty steep bank to get to our assigned spot. For load-in you will have assigned times which usually makes it a little easier. The only times you can bring your car in is at set-up and take-down. We prefer not to leave our jewelry in the booth, so twice a day we cart everything across the park to the out-side street where a car can pull up. Be prepared to bring some shims as some of the spaces are on a slant or uneven ground. Also, in among the pine trees can be pretty dark if it's a cloudy day and later on Friday evening, so some lights are great, but there's no electricity. Parking is pretty far away at a hospital parking lot.
Please let me know what you decide. If we happen to be accepted it would be nice to meet you.
Also, maybe for future reference you could recommend some other shows in the area during June and August. We have a cabin near Gardiner. We usually spend time at the cabin in June and August.
Kathleen, thanks for the detailed feedback. I'm dreading the load in and out and end of each day if one has to drag heavy stuff for long way. I got my accepted email on 4/25 but I originally missed it since it went to my Google's "Updates" tab. I only look each day my "Inbox". Found the acceptance email after searching "Sweet Pea" in my gmail :-) You should be able to check your zapplication status for it. I got accepted to both SP and SLAM so will have to decide which one to do since they are both on the same weekend.
Not many shows in the area for June and August. I sometimes envy other artists living where there are so many shows to pick from, and not having to drive far. For June, there's Moss Mansion SpringFest in early June in Billings and Missoula Summer MadeFair in late June. In August, you have Sweet Pea or SLAM on the same weekend and the new Western MadeFair in Missoula (Tues-Sun) on the second week of August. That's all I know about for those 2 months :-) Hopefully we can meet one day. Take care!