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What do you say?  Do you say anything? I have pretty much stopped applying to anything non-refundable, unless I have late deadline back-ups available.


There are a fair number of shows I would toss a jury fee to, were it not that they are non-refundable  after acceptance. I get into less than half the shows I apply to, I need at least some kind of grace period to be able to get a refund.


I’m tempted to send a snippy reply to a “Reminder” email I just received, saying, “Since your show is non-refundable, I asssume that means since I am taking all the risks, you will definitely accept me? I think commitment should go both ways. If you are free to reject me, losing nothing (gaining a small fee, in fact), I feel like I should be free to decline an invitation without the significant financial loss of a booth fee.”


I have sent a few shows a gentle note or two over the years, but have seen no reversals of policy. They all must think they are the only show in town worth applying to. Is there any point?


What do you do?

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I'm glad you wrote about this.  

When it comes to applications, I'm a purveyor of the fine print, and this has always puzzled me.  I don't see how a show can enforce a clause that says "you [the exhibitor] agree that if accepted, you will not cancel."If you are accepted,  say "no thank you" and then don't send them their money, what do they do?  Sue you??

Or, do shows and applicants take this to mean: "Once you send us your booth fee (or deposit for same), you can't cancel"?

Usually these shows want you to send both the jury fee and the booth fee with the application.  Once they accept you, they just cash the booth fee check.  I've even come across one or two that want one check (booth and jury) and they cash the whole thing then send you a refund (usually after a long wait) if you are not accepted.  When I first started it was pretty much that way across the board so that is one good thing that Zapp brought us.

If the booth fee is due after acceptance, I have no problem with it, in general. The gap between application, notification, and fee due date is usually adequate.


It's the "both fees sent in with the application, no refunds if accepted" scenario Alison describes that sets me off.


The shows still doing this are not on Zapp. The few that have since gone to zapp, I can now apply to again.

Gotcha.  Thanks to you and Alison for clarifying. 

Yep, in my  locale (SW Florida)  Cape Coral and the Sanibel shows (Rotary and Lions) all do this. And I have talked to all of them about it.  The replies vary from: "That's the way we've always done it," to "We're too small to do it any other way," to "Thank you for bringing that to our attention <silence>." 

None of which accounts for the real reason we suspect, which is, it's a nice kick to the cash flow for them, and an account-drainer for us, the artists.   I've always gotten in to these shows, so I personally haven't had an issue--but  one show among them that has a dearth of applicants and I've pointed out to them that this policy is hurting them. 

This, as has already been said, a common practice. Thanks not only to Zapp, but definitely to the NAIA who exposed a bunch of practices that were very artist un-friendly. This needs to be talked about here. Show directors are reading. If shows want applicants they have to be fair about this. All fees with applications and "an application is a commitment to show" - those days are gone. Artists are not desperate to find shows these days and they can walk away from them with check books intact.

Connie, should we make a list with a prominent title (wicked grin)?


Brainstorming..."Artist Unfriendly Shows Gouging Their Cash Cows with Non-Refundable booth Fees" ?

If the BUMS are exposed (no pun intended) maybe they will change their ways as artists avoid their shows. Information is a valuable resource in this business.

I worry about this a lot since I'm in stage 3 kidney failure and have had unexpected hospitalizations. I asked a head of time and every show, they said  read the contract, it will allow for partial refunds to a certain point, no refunds after a certain date, no excuses. So if you have a death in the family or personal illness you're screwed. I wonder if your next of kin gets your refund if you die after the deadline or on the way to the show... no joke, last year an artist was in a fatal accident heading to a show in Naples...

They're not loosing anything ,they have wait list and those on wait list have to pay for the booth where is their loss ?

I almost missed Winter Park due to a close call with renal shutdown... Luckily I had enough time after I got out of hospital to recover. One year I had emergency surgery, couldn't get a refund, even my doctor called! I went 9 days after emergency surgery to set up at the Javits...

If I read that in a shows prospectus, it is a big red flag saying "don't apply"

There are a very few small shows where I put up with this.  One of them falls on the week that I may have to drive to pick my daughter up from college (we are unsure of her plans at this point).   I contacted the show director before I applied and told her my situation, she agreed to set my check aside until I know what the deal is. 

Last summer we didn't know when my daughter had to be at college as I was doing my apps, and since she is a freshman I wanted to take her there.  I made a similar call about an August show and got "if you are accepted there are no refunds".  I didn't apply.

I wonder if they realize how many potential jury fees they are missing due to such policies? I have said as much to several shows that I used to do (and even to some I am interested in, but have not applied), but have never received any kind of a reply.

If a booth fee is $500 plus, that equals about 17 jury fees. But most will risk jurying in ,knowing they probably won't get it. Most who get juried in will put booth fees on a credit card and hope for the best...

I haven't seen a show yet that has a refund policy that's fair to the artist,especially in light of wait listed artists will get the spot and have to pay so why not refund if something comes up?

Not sure how many artists with health issues have had to cancel either.. Most will risk it hoping health holds out, even with my cancer and kidney history, I risk it, have no choice.. Hubby will have to wheel me in a gurney.. I did a show 9 days after surgery in a wheel chair and a drain tube coming out my abdomen because they wouldn't refund...

Like I asked earlier,one artist was in a fatal accident ,leaving one show to head to Naples... wonder what the refund policy is...

No shortage of applicants so no change in policies...


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