Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I've been checking this and other platforms for any indication as to what people's thoughts might be on this topic. So far, no one has even mentioned the subject which, will have an enormous impact on us all.
So, here's the question. How many of you are going to wait until the last minute to decide, and how many have already made up their minds? Seeing as how there is a lot of time, energy, effort, and money involved, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter.
As for me, I'm still deciding if the risk is worth the reward.
I'd like to take a moment to thank all of the artists that responded, as well as the ones who read my question. Since I initially wrote my query, the very point of it has become mute. We are no longer facing a decision as to whether we wait or not. States, in many cases, have made that decision for us. They have initiated bans on large gatherings, ordered that bars be closed, restaurants will be required to offer only takeout service. We are far from being alone in this. In the next few months, this decease will affect virtually every walk of life. The question now seems to be one of, not for how long, but for how much!
There are a considerable number of shows who still feel that because their shows are later in the season, that they will hold their shows regardless, that this pandemic will have played itself out. This may be true, though the fear that has arisen will still be there. Combine this with the effects of a catastrophic downturn in the stock market, which, economists are now saying, may bring about a recession. I have a show in upstate New York scheduled for the beginning of June that has stated that they will proceed as planned. Other shows have chosen to postpone their event. While this might work out well for them, it does little for the artists who have assembled their schedule. Changes in time, dates, distance, and logistics can bring about a less than stellar result.
As we stand now, we are in artistic limbo, a limbo where no one can give us workable answers as to when it will end. Hopefully, we will all come through this. One can only imagine on a creative level, how this will affect not only the type, style, and depth of our work but our reasons for doing it.
I'm not so concerned about the contagion itself as I am about the perception of the contagion. I'm thinking about all the shows that I did last year and how they might change this year. Parents with strollers may not wish to expose their children to crowds, or perhaps a day out with one's parents will be seen as a dangerous move.
I just got home from the market, already there are holes on the shelves where bread, toilet paper, and pasta used to be. Perhaps it's because it's Sunday night. I guess we'll know more tomorrow.
Yes, it is on all of our minds.
From a sales perspective, you want crowds, preferably as many as possible in your booth. And at the same time, it builds sales excitement.
From an epidemiology perspective, you want one guy, yelling at you from about 150 feet away.
Ah, it is on everyone's mind, but there is a saying, we have head it before, "this too shall pass"
Anyway, will see how La Quinta this week and Scottsdale (next week) are.
Do you remember the scene in the movie Jaws when sheriff Brody and Martin Hopper are trying to convince the town Mayor, Larry Vaughn, that he should close the beaches on the 4th of July? The scenes that followed, of people timidly going into the water in fear for their lives, this is what it's beginning to seem like now.
People seem to be afraid and their leaders don't seem to be offering a great deal of direction. Now comes the scene where Mayor Vaughn, points to the graffitied billboard and says, "Do you see what these hoodlums have done? Pure vandalism!"
I think that these scenes serve up an interesting metaphor on the times that lay ahead.
When this first started I asked my son to give me his thoughts from a medical perspective. He and his wife are both in the medical professions. They also have a newborn baby who was born 6 weeks premature and they have been vigilant about protecting him from the regular flu- as in insisting that I get a flu shot, constantly wash my hands before handling the baby, etc.
My son says that are two ways to go about dealing with a disease- prevention and treatment.
As we currently have no treatment, we focus on the prevention. That's about it, until some progress is made with treatment.
Of course that isn't going to be easy as more people may be in our population who are infected but not knowing it or showing any symptoms.
As to the art shows- stock market dumping, not good. I'm sticking to my show schedule, though, still have two shows more show to apply, and I'm making pots every day.
With my truck half loaded about two hours ago, and ready to head to Albuquerque for the Rio Grande A&C Festival, I received the email stating that the show has been cancelled after the Governor declared a state of emergency today. I was concerned about being in a crowd, with (hopefully) dozens of people signing their names on my phone, but ready to go. Ouch $$
Do we all continue to apply to shows at jury + booth fee + travel costs, all presumably non refundable?
That sucks, man.
I've started emailing shows and asking, so far just the ones I've been accepted to and have paid for or am going to pay for, about what plans they have (re money) for if the show gets canceled. Am planning to ask shows that I haven't applied to next.
Got one answer so far of basically 'we'll see' and am waiting for others.
Sure, we all "signed a contract" for most of these shows with everything being non refundable, but it's untenable to expect artists to eat the cost if all shows start canceling. I know it's hard for a show runner cause they've already spent money but I really think we need to ask to have booth fees back in this situation.
It's a good time to rethink diversifying income streams for art business if you are depending heavily on shows.
Your original post was on March 1, which seems like a lifetime ago given shifts in the country’s perception of coronavirus and it’s actual spread. I was wondering if you would still say that you are more concerned about the perception of the disease than the disease itself. Maybe so. Anyhow, on the advice of my physician, because of an existing condition and the necessity for air travel, I just withdrew from the Winter Park festival. No doubt significant $$ lost but almost everyone is in the minus column these days and especially those here who rely upon Art Fair sales as their main income. A volatile stock market plus the coronavirus is a devastating combination.
Despite the idiotic blathering of the current occupant, this is not like the flu and we are in for some hardship. And I’m afraid art fairs will be hard hit. While we may applaud fairs like Winter Park going forward during a period when the virus is spreading exponentially, I can’t help but think that going forward with an event that invites people to congregate in high density is irresponsible. And not just people in general. My eyes see a lot of gray hair among fair artists, and my buyers are clearly older and therefore among the most vulnerable. And if they’re smart, I don’t see them coming to an Art Fair right now.
My feelings on this haven't changed. Though the virus itself is indeed worrisome, the perception of what may happen appears to be far worse. For example, people are buying hand sanitizer, bread, and milk.and toilet paper, as though one might shit themselves to death,
Between the stock market's rocklike fall, and our government's offering us nothing but confusing information, we seem to be left to our own devices. The situation is deteriorating by the day with the state of New York marshaling the National Guard to quell possible civil unrest in the event of a lockdown.
Getting back to the art shows, I decided not to send in my booth fees. Many had thought that I was overreacting, that this is something that they said would be over before it began. If there is one thing that I feel certain of it's that, even if the shows do go forward that they will be a pale shadow of their former selves. In the end, we will be left with not only the lost investment of our application and booth fees, but with the travel expenses, hotels, meals, and gas, as well. People, we will have to come up with new ideas, reinvent ourselves to meet this challenge. I have been cleaning up my studio and will be setting it up for the live streaming of my artwork in hopes that I can draw upon a new audience. I have never done this before and, it is, somewhat unnerving, in these uncertain times.
These seem to be our alternatives, adapt or perish, because, at this point, it seems the risk is no longer worth the reward.
Look sharp, it's a jungle out there people!
It looks like the elderly and/or people that already have some sort of medical problem are at risk the most so I don't think the attendance at outdoor shows will be affected that much. Also, since the flu season is normally Fall through Winter, (just happens to be the time most people are indoors!) I'm still going to load up my schedule for the rest of the year. I know of only one show that has been canceled as of this date and the promoter refunded the fees back to the exhibitors. Last night (March 11th) the President enacted the European travel ban so if things change, I'll deal with it. But as for me personally, it's full speed ahead at this point.
I appreciate your (and everyone else's) input on this important thread. I'm looking forward to all keeping each other informed about how shows go in the next few weeks. I'm not sure which show you are referring to as the one that got cancelled, but I'd wager a friendly cup of coffee or a beer that many/most of the remaining March shows may get cancelled. I think this because the importance of not congregating in numbers is just now beginning to be explained clearly by our leading epidemiology experts and the news media are (hopefully) finally beginning to run these stories, and because Governor after Governor are declaring states of emergency in their respective states. This will force closures as just happened in Albuquerque. Even if the shows don't cancel I wonder about how many people will attend, given health, economy, and stock market woes.
What I WANT to do is exactly what you are doing: keep on applying and doing art fairs. I'm fairly new at fairs and I love doing them. I want them to go on as planned and I want them to be well attended by affluent and interested patrons. What I am going to do is what Richard S suggests above: begin moving my inventory into galleries and shops within 100 miles of my home, and onto online outlets.
Just my $0.02-worth.