Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
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?
I know what you mean, Michelle. There have been threads on here in the past discussing health issues and refunds. I am fortunate in that I have not had chronic issues like you are dealing with. 3 years ago I had to cancel 4 shows due to 2 surgeries. Luckily a few did give me “emergency” refunds, even though policy was against it.
With one I called to cancel, after realizing I was not up to it 2 weeks after surgery. But they urged me not to cancel, saying they would help. I went with great trepidation, thinking if no one helped, I was up the creek. But they pulled together for me. They actually drafted 2 committee members to help me set up and tear down my booth. I had no history with this show, either: they were just kind people. I have not gone back: it’s more than an 8 hour drive. But I will never forget.
Likewise the ones that showed no compassion.
On the note of the artist who was killed on the way to the show last year, he was on his way to one of the Howard Alan Events. He was great friends with the Alans who attended his funeral. His family assuredly received a refund.
What do you think of this draft? Please comment and make suggestions for alterations. I would like to create a “master letter” or template letter that we can use to send into such shows, that individuals can tweak as needed. Perhaps if they all received such letters from disgruntled artists in quantity, it might get through.
I received a “reminder” from a show this morning. I have sacrificed a booth fee twice to this show. I would love to do the show: but I have been rejected from it too, so have to hedge my bets by applying elsewhere where I know I can get a refund. I end up having to drive many hours instead of possibly doing this one, only an hour away from me.
I would gladly apply, but the policy of your show to be completely non refundable after acceptance stops me. Most art fairs have moved to a policy of either asking for the booth fee after acceptance, or allowing refunds for a period of perhaps one month after artist notification of acceptance.
You are probably not aware of this, but for most artists, selling their work at art fairs is not a hobby, but their livelihood. Since we have to have a show at which to sell our work on most weekends of a short outdoor art fair season, it is necessary to apply to more than one to ensure that we are accepted to at least one.
I’m an artist, money is tight, I can’t afford to throw away a booth fee. A reasonable period of time to send in the booth fee, or receive a refund, would be helpful not only to artists, but to the quality of your art fair. Another alternative, where booth fees are sent in with the application, is to charge a small cancellation fee. If the artist must withdraw, they receive the booth fee back, less $20. This would cover the costs of any paperwork incurred by you for cancellations. I am not referring to last minute refunds. No one expects that. But refundable to within, say, 3 months of the show.
This would result in a much higher number of applications for you, and thus more money garnered in jury fees; as well as a higher caliber of professional exhibitors from which you can choose. With your current policy of no refunds, you are not only receiving fewer applications than you could, but probably having empty spaces in the show as well.
Artists are discussing among themselves on forums the artist unfriendly policies of certain shows.
Sadly a black list of shows wouldn't leave very many left to jury into...
I don't think most of these smaller regional shows advertise here anyway. It's on my mind more this year because I am trying harder to stay local this year. If such a list were offsite, how would the shows read about it?
Thanks for thinking of me, Dick. Sweet;)
However, I would have no problem having a list like this on this site. It could be one of those continuing old threads that gets updated whenever anyone has a show to add to the list. Perhaps an artist would not like to start this (personal repercussions maybe). I'd be pleased to start the discussion, but then you would have to add the shows. Should I do that?
Great letter, Linnea. It covers all of the issues and offers a nice alternative. Start a thread with this. I'll feature it and people who check in on it will keep it on the front page. Shows will see it.
In general I'd think that shows do not understand the hardship this causes and a polite spelling it out is a solid way to deal with the problem.