Non-Refundable Booth Fees

Here is your opportunity to help improve our business. Fewer and fewer shows have it in their prospectus that an application is a commitment to show, but there are still shows that once they get your payment it never comes back regardless of your situation. 

Can you help educate these shows? Show organizers do read this site and modify operating procedures. To my mind all shows should have a policy that states that artists can get their money back if they cancel the show within a certain period of time, perhaps minus a service fee.

Artists double book and it is not in a show's best interest to not refund fees. It inhibits artist applications. Friendly monetary policies help grow shows. 

Have you run into any shows lately that require money up front and then will not refund? How important is this to you?

You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders

Votes: 0
Email me when people reply –


  • There's a lot of comments here, and I admit I haven't read them all, but I'm going to put my 2 cents in.

    I have never applied for a show that wouldn't refund your money under any circumstances.  That would very likely be a deal breaker for me unless I really wanted to do the show badly.  That being said, I don't think I have ever had to cancel a show once I paid my booth fees.  (I might have done it once, not sure.)

    I don't usually apply for more than one show the same weekend.  But since many of them are due so far ahead of time, and are so hard to get into, I can see why an artist would need to apply for more than one.

    But there are other very valid reasons why a person may need to cancel a show, family issues, etc.  Right now I am waiting to find out when my son will get leave from the Army.  When he does, I probably won't want to do a show when he will be home for less than a week.  

    I can understand charging some sort of fee for the paperwork, but it's wrong to collect rent from two people for the same little tiny piece of real estate.

    • I agree with most of this comment.  We need to realize that ANY reason is a valid reason.  If the show fills the space from the wait list, then the booth fee (less a minor administrative fee) MUST be returned.

      Returned, not refunded.  The show must not continue to collect more than one fee on a space.

  • Linnea, I guess that part of what I'm saying is that many of us who oppose this practice are also saying that directors are "WRONG" to to have such a practice. I think we've all made the point from our end and directors are free to do what they will with what works for them as long as it's stated in the application.  Rather than saying the same things over and over, mostly between ourselves, is there anything anyone suggests DOING.  What I do is simply not do those shows as I've said.  They have their reasons for their policies and I think it's wrong for us to judge that.

    This discussion was only recently revived but, if you'll notice, has been going on for over a year now.  I hope some shows have changed their policy as a result of reading this, but I kinda doubt it.  Is there ANYONE out there who knows of a change of policy on booth refunds or a change being in the works?

    • I understand that there are no refund policies for so many reasons but I do think that there are certain unavoidable and extenuating circumstances that should be taken into account

      On March 5 2014 my stepdaughter (of 25 years) died suddenly and unexpectedly. It was Wednesday night when we found out and on Thursday morning I called the show promoters for a show that I had scheduled that weekend. I explained to her the circumstances of why I wasn't coming. I really wasn't thinking about refunds or anything but the fact that we had just lost a child
      I do think it is cold, though, that I didn't get a refund. Certainly, I could provide a death certificate (given a few days) and I know my space was taken by someone on the wait list. I kind of feel like they benefitted from the loss our child by getting double paid for a booth.
      I really would have appreciated a refund under the circumstance (no one in their right mind would lie about something so devastating). Or at least a partial "deposit" towards next year's show. I know that this is a dog eat dog world but it is bugging me. On a positive note, my favorite Atlanta promoters made the trip to South Georgia for the funeral so at least I know it's not all about the $$$ for some
      • You have my sincere condolences on your loss. It does add to an already painful time when one is met with such lack of compassion. When my father died, on a Tuesday, I had a show that weekend. I called as soon as I could think straight, which was Thursday. I likewise did not receive a refund. It was not about the money…it was the callousness that bothered me.

        • I am sorry for you.

          There is a time where being a human should go over business.

          • I am going back to Willoughby Ohio show in July, a few years ago I pulled out- the day after I received my acceptance, I had been a ribbon prizewinner there the year before, and have done the show for years.

            The year I pulled out was due to moving out of the area, to PA, due to my husband getting another job, yes due to the Cleveland economy.

            Nope, no refund.

            Wrote a stinky e-mail to them because it made no sense, they could replace me in a minute and I am sure they did.

            I am going back this year, I have some old customers in the area.

  • It's all very simple really,  I do not apply to shows that will not refund if cancelled before a reasonable date.  They will not get my jury fee or my attention.  If I am interested in of of these shows, I will call the show and let them know why I will not apply just to make sure they know the implications of this policy.  Some shows, i suppose, can't handle the extra work of cancellations and that's their business- no hard feelings.

    If a director is interested in my input, I assume they will ask for it.  I think we have shown why most of us do not apply to such shows, let's stop beating it to death.  Shows are different, have different policies, read the fine print on the application, and let's move on.

    • Like you, I tend to avoid shows that are not refundable. I will only apply if I am certain that that show is my first choice.  If I apply to a back up to the first choice, that one is always refundable, or fee due after.


      I believe the only reason why this comes up is that, as mentioned earlier, some shows genuinely do not understand how this business works for artists. We hope to raise their consciousness. In the last 5 years or so, more and more shows are moving to a fee due after acceptance practice.


      If we don’t tell them what they are doing wrong, and explain how it will help them in the long run to change their old practices, how can they be expected to improve?


  • Interesting addition to this discussion... just was accepted to a September show and I asked if I could pay later or partially right now, to not commit that much $$ right now. I can send a 25% NON-REFUNDABLE deposit! I know I'll do the show, so I'll send it, but... just the timing is interesting.

This reply was deleted.