Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
What responsibilities do we attribute to the promoter for alleviating a problem at the shows?
What solutions should they employ?
Recently at the show in Rockville, MD we had a situation.
This show is held on the streets of Rockville. In the area called Town Square.
The "Bible bangers" decided to attack.
A group of them came into our show. Set up, no equipment, just themselves, right at our booths. Proceeded to shout and preach the "word of their G-D". They went so far as to be shouting VERY LOUD, over all of us. Even coming to our booths and approaching our customers, handing out their literature, shouting over us more, pulling our customers away. They did this for many hours. Staying in the same location.
Sales stopped. Customers avoided us. After much discussion and complaints the promoters finally called police.
Police got the offenders to move three booths up the street. However they did not stop. The show was scheduled to end at 5:00pm, Sunday. The "protesters" kept their shouting up, until exactly 5:00pm. then they got quiet and left.
It was obviously just to disrupt our show.
This is not a discussion as to their religious beliefs nor freedom of speech.
These people made it obvious they were trying to disrupt our business.
What were the responsibilities of the promoter?
What solutions could / should they have employed?
What solutions could us artists have employed?
Boy, what a nightmare! I din't think the promoter could do anything more than she did. The police couldn't either. If they can't be stopped from harrassing women going into abortion clinics they certainly can't be kicked out of an art fair...
I understand the public spaces concept, however this was "private property" as the promoter had a permit for the street areas we were taking up.
Also, I can understand certain rights of speech, however this was not just them trying to "sell their religion" This was obviously designed to disrupt our sales.
When I approached them, to talk civilly about getting them to stop, I was quickly encroached upon by 2 large men. Very close, in my face. Although it was obvious they desired for me to... I took no action. I know how costly my defense lawyer is. My skills in defense are far better than in art. Although the idea of aiding in him getting to meet his G-D is entertaining.
I do not believe us artists should have to deal with this. Isn't it the promoters position to find a solution?
If this goes unchecked it could become a more prominent problem. As alluded to, prior, it was obvious they were seeking an escalation.
Even as a Christian, I find this behavior disrespectful and disruptive. No matter what the "cause", this obnoxious behavior does not win anyone over. I am all for free speech and religious liberty. It is their method I disagree with. I am more for personal one on one conversations, based on a relationship with the person I am speaking to. That being said, I have questions.
Did this group rent a booth space per the application process? Were they admitted based on an approved application? Or did they work their way in "illegally", aka without going through the application process?
Most shows have rules about staying within the boundaries of your booth. Did this show not have that rule? If not, it needs to have it and enforce. Dh and I are very careful to confirm our boundaries and stay within them.
Most shows have rules about loud noise and to avoid it, whether it's spoken words, music, etc. Did this show address this in the rules? A loud noise rule or a rule about staying within your booth that is consistently enforced is all you need to prevent/correct this issue.
Those artists around this group should be the first ones to report the disruption to the show promoters. I am not sure from your post how long it took for the first report to be made to the promoters. It sounds like it should have been made earlier. Then, if it continued, have them removed from the show for non-compliance to the rules (mentioned above), if these rules were addressed in the contract and guidelines.
It seems many promoters don't want to cause a scene but they allow things like this to go on. As you witnessed, Larry, it causes havoc for everyone .... customers and artists alike. Again, I am a Christian and believe this disruptive, obnoxious behavior is the way to win over any converts. I would say this whether it was a religious, political or any other viewpoint. There is a better way to present our beliefs, no matter what they are.
What a nightmare! Unfortunately, if the cops couldn't do anything then the promoter certainly couldn't. If they can't stop these people from harassing women going into abortion clinics then they certainly can't be kicked out of an art fair.
This group did not care about any show rules. They were not part of the show. No booth, no "set up". They merely walked into the area and began shouting. Unfortunately, with the buildings / architecture the way it was, it worked like a bullhorn. Also the speaker had a very strong speaking/ shouting voice. I have a very loud voice and yell. I believe this person's voice was louder.
We reported it within 10 minutes as one of the show staff was present. It took about 1 1/2 hours before the police were called. After I requested it.
We had tried talking nicely and reasoning with them. They would not even talk with us. They merely shouted louder with every word we tried to say.
A customer, in my booth, looking at one of my pieces, was approached by them, given literature and pulled away.
It KILLED sales. It KILLED foot traffic.
Yeah, I get it. A really horrible situation. I'm just not sure that legally, anything can be done. These guys are free to harrass mourners at military funerals because the don t like gays in the military, and also the aforementioned abortion clinics. They've been raising their kids to be lawyers for years and are very well prepared legally.
To clarify: I have no issue, at all, with their religious beliefs. I have no issues with anyone's religious beliefs, ethnicity, nationality, race, sexual preference, at all. I am vehemently opposed to prejudice and bigotry.
I have an issue with their beliefs of pushing their ideology upon others and deliberately causing a loss to us artists.
I may not associate them with all the good people of their faith. However, with their approach, they foster a negative impression that may bleed to others. Wrongfully, of course but it may associate to the innocent.
Furthermore, if this is not stopped, it may lead to more incidence and an escalation of altercations.
I understand. This behavior from any group leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the group at large.
One thing most people including the police do not realize, it is against the law to impede or stop a business from conducting business.
this was a huge flagrant example of that. The show organizers really fell short on this one and the police.
The instant they set up and started creating a scene was when they should have been forcibly removed if not leaving peacefully, and a distance, this is key - that did not distract or impede attendees to be able to approach the event.
Too many times people don’t realize they are breaking the law because they view a situation as a city law/ordinance/mandate issue and not the business/events right to conduct business.
they were in trespass of the event.
Could the promoter have invoked some statute that the police might have used to alleviate the situation?
Any idea what that statute might be?
I would love to know what that might be. Just so I'm prepared, if this were to happen again.
How about the 1st Amendment?
Quasi-Public Places .--The First Amendment precludes government restraint of expression and it does not require individuals to turn over their homes, businesses or other property to those wishing to communicate about a particular topic....
Does that help?
Business Law Class II....I.e. IMPEDING on yours and the shows right to conduct business. You are welcome.
Too many people don’t realize the right to peaceably gather or preach on a topic in what they perceive as a public place isn’t always true. And those unfamiliar with this part of the law don’t have enough information to stop the jerks and say -NO YOU DON’T. That permit is key to land use during a specific period of time and that group was in serious trespass. They should have been arrested and forced to pay damages (loss of sales current, and in the future for all affected artists). In 1977, it was $20,000 over a period of 5 years per customer loss per artist. I wonder what that would equate to today...
As the promoter of a small (50 artists) juried fine art fair, Art Spectacular at the Carillon in Springfield, IL, I can tell you what MY reaction would be. Since I am on-site from 'gates open" until "gates closed", I would immediately ask them to leave since this is not the appropriate venue for their 'preaching'. If that didn't work, immediately, I would call the police and they would be escorted out of the park. Now that might not stop them from the screaming outside the park, but as a promoter, I would immediately address the problem inside the art fair. I, too, am a Christian - but there is a time and a place, and it's not the art fair in which we all have invested time, sweat and finances to earn money. I'm so sorry for all the artists who were subjected to this very bad, rude behavior.