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In art fair circles for years there has been talk about buy/sell and reps showing up with someone else's work. I found this meeting mention in The Orlando Sentinel:

Artists participating in the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival are set to meet Friday evening to discuss forming a commission that would set standards for work displayed at art festivals. The purpose of the commission would be to certify that work in an artist's booth was in fact created by the artist, according to photographer Les Slesnick, who is organizing the gathering. The meeting will happen in the Rotary Beer Garden just south of Morse Boulevard just after the festival closes at 6 p.m.

Does anyone know anything about this? Or have any suggestions we could share with Les?

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Thank-you Mr. Coombs!  Your words are a breath of fresh air in all this nonsense. And it is esp. great to here from a completely different view. And one of the most important ones; an art patron.

This is making the corporate world that I live in by day look sensible!  

And so the pendulum will swing. I'm only about 10 years into this show world, doing bigger and more visible shows every year. But in my experience whenever something heads to an extreme the forces of karma will send things swing back in the other direction hard and fast.

If we end up with shows that are only open to "certified" artists it will create a new business opportunity for promoters who want to create new shows where they operate outside the system (or keep their old shows outside the system). The price of the certified shows will go up because it will be considered an elite status and many artists will walk away, decide that sales are more important than credentials and follow the customers instead of the granters of titles.

For those of you are familiar with the history of Precious Metal Clay (specific to the company). There were only a few people certified to teach PMC classes, and they were also allowed to sell materials at a discount. I have been certified at all 3 levels that existed before I veered to fusing as my full time obsession. I got to know many of the players that were involved at the time and it was fascinating to watch. If you were certified you could teach other classes and use your certification to help get advertising and credibility. That didn't stop other people from teaching but they had a harder time getting students. As I left the PMC world there were other forces at work, a second type of certification came on the scene and a second set of discounts became available. It continues to evolve and my original certifications don't mean squat anymore, especially because I stopped paying Guild membership dues.

If this silly plan takes hold, I will just watch for those promoters who want to enforce the b/s and production rules by using their own two eyes and some common sense. They will get fooled sometimes but overall the shows will be reasonable and that's what I ask of a promoter. To set up a set of rules and a structure and to enforce them to the best of their ability.

Now I just hope that I'm right about the pendulum

Wow, I looked a the website also.  No artist in their right mind would submit to this.  It is the antithesis of what be an independent artist is about. 

I had seen a few parodies on You-tube during the afternoon with some of my students and first thought that this JCAAFA was a clever parody and even had some pretty good words to fit the acronym.  I still am unsure if it is a real endeavor as it seems so absurd.

Wow. Words simply fail. I too thought that their website was some kind of joke - and it's not funny at all to realize that this is done in all seriousness. But I did have a good laugh over the name, "Joint Council on Accredidation of Art Fair Artists". Last I checked, it took more than one person to make a council.

This is such a bad idea on so many levels, but I do think the parallels with the PMC world are instructive with their competing agencies of accreditation. If this idea really does take off, it's not outside the realms of possibility that we'll all have to belong to many different accredidation councils just to be sure we have all our bases covered. Especially since this one seems to be cronyism of the highest order - you can only belong if a current member nominates you?!? How long will it be before those on the outside try to make their own competing organization - and those on the outside of that theirs, etc. etc. You only have to look at how many shows we currently do that were set up because people couldn't get into the "main" show to see that this is really how people think.

And the criteria - WTF? "Only the finest materials have been used, as determined by the Joint Council's Panel of Experts in the artist's specific field" So, which COE glass is best? Should artists only be allowed to use Argentium sterling silver because of it's low tarnish aspects, or will nasty, high maintenance sterling still be allowed? Am I allowed to use gold plated items, or only Vermeil, or will they have some other plating depth that should be standard? And these are just the first few questions that came to my mind in about 10 seconds of thinking. I'm sure each of us in our own disciplines can think of more with little effort.

But what to do? I get the impression that complaining directly to Les won't help - he has the bit between his teeth and is off to the races. His customers are not us, they are the art show directors. and according to the one eye witness account, artists didn't say anything at the meeting, giving those directors the idea that they were OK with this idea and this direction by their silent acceptance. How do we let the directors that Les is pitching this to know that this is a crap idea? (seriously, that is not a rhetorical question! For the most part I've been a very Pollyanna girl focusing on my work and not the politics of this industry.)

You should let Les know -- the more input, the better. Good or bad.

Yes, I posted this on my FB page this morning to get this issue into wider circulation (many of my artist friends don't read message boards at all).

But without a specific call to action besides "Well crap, this really sucks" there isn't much to be done besides make everyone mad. But when you make people mad and tell them where to shoot, that is much more helpful. I'm having the problem of not knowing where to shoot at the moment - the only target is emailing Les which may or may not be helpful. But does anyone have contact info for him? On the website it helpfully states, "Your comments are invited. Please address them to Interim Director. Please use jcaafa in the Subject field." but since no email address is provided, this sham overture for comments really does no good.

  I think that this whole idea is a bit insane.  A "sole arbiter"?  Really?  Buy & Sell is is real problem, but this  convoluted proposal goes way beyond that issue.

   As a recycling artist, I find the bit about,"on;y the finest materials have been used", to be a problem.  What will be the criteria for that?  To me, a rusty bit of junk that I discover curbside can be the finest material, but not everyone may agree.


The issue here is not accreditation or certification or whatever plan anybody comes up with to improve the buy/sell - rep problem.  The issue here is that one tiny little man and his pocketful of cronies should not be allowed to dictate policy.

Let me say that again.  ONE TINY LITTLE MAN and his pocketful of cronies should not be allowed to dictate policy.  Don’t worry about their particular agenda.  Focus on the man and the group as the enemy.  This is OUR livelihood, not theirs.  Let's take it back.

One of my favorite quotes from Braveheart:

You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that FREEDOM? Will you fight?

I'm staying for a few days with some friends in North Carolina. William was in the medical community for many years and is well versed in the accredation process in the medical field and the nature of accredation in general. He says that eventually all accredation organizations morph into a beaurocracy where the accreditors vested interest is maintaining their legitamacy to sustain their incomes. Hence the fee and then the increased fees, in this case on the artists to pay their membership dues each yearto maintain their accredation. And then there is the fact that the accredation is like an octopus with tentacles that reach into every aspect of the art fair scene, much of it detrimental and restrictive to the artists. That is the nature of all accreditation systems.

I still will stick to my suggestion that we should be directing this to the shows.  Artists should be requiring the shows to be certified.  It shouldn't be that artists are certifying artists.  Buy/sell should be the responsibility of the shows themselves and we should be demanding that the shows take care of this.

Good idea, Barry. Regardless of the agenda of the JCAAFA, it's a much better idea to start pushing back on the idea that artists should be "certified". If shows decide that we need to provide "proof" that our work is 100% original, the buy/sell con men will find ways to game the system, while honest artists suffer. Shows can't enforce their own rules -- why  now has this become the artist's problem?

This is not an artist's problem. It is the show's problem. We cannot police the events -- that is why there are juries and show director's who know the business. Hence, the beginning of the NAIA where show organizers began to come together and share information and network with each other. When the show directors know who the obfuscaters are it helps to maintain the integrity of their events. This is what the artists have been asking for - show police thyself.


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