Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

It's been said that we are about 2 months behind China in dealing with COVID-19. People in China are slowly getting back to normalcy. They are being cautious because of the possibility that the virus could come back if they interact in public too soon. We have finished the second week of sequestering with 6 weeks to go, meaning sequestering would end around May 15th. A number of shows around the middle of May have not cancelled, hoping that they will still be able to have their event. My question is: Even if the rate of infection of COVID-19 approached 0, would you do a show around the second weekend in May? The second part of this question is how long before the all clear would you feel comfortable taking a chance doing a show? I definitely not do a show in the next 6 weeks and I'm thinking I would not do a show until at least June 1st. There is going to be a lot of pressure to do something in the later half of May because of the needed cash flow.

Would it ever be worth the risk? I set up my schedule to do shows from the end of April through May and then use June to make work. With all the cancellations, I won't have a show until 4th of July weekend. That's 3 months from now. However, the temptation to do something before then is great just to have some money. What do you all think? There is also the possibility that no customer is going to attend any shows for a while. 

Views: 1407

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion


   I think this is the internal struggle going on within all of us artists/craftsmen that depend entirely on shows for their living- so much is still unknown and still unfolding. I live in North Carolina and our Governor has just ordered a "stay at home" decree for non-essential businesses and services for the next 30 days (essentially the month of April). With this in mind my thoughts are on the May shows that have accepted me and have not cancelled. Do I go? Will customers show up?

   First, and foremost, My wife and I are primary caretakers of my 86-year old Mom. I would not risk her health by bringing back the virus bug that I may have inadvertently caught at a show. She is not expendable for the sake of my personal economy (no matter what the A-Hole Lt. Governor of Texas has to say).

   A great concern is of course finances. I am still not very clear how unemployment benefits will cover us. As far as I can tell my state (North Carolina) has to initially approve of the change under state rules and our legislature is currently in recess...don not see much help there in the near future.

   While I read with great interest all the posts extolling "virtual" on-line art shows, I do not see this as much of a solution either.

   Do not know if you read an earlier post from me. I am a retired Biologist, so I have a science background, and current models show the worst is yet to come. I do not think we will have a respite until June/July. I am also looking at July 4th to kick off my year. Of course if the economy has completely tanked I wonder if folks are going to buy my paintings?

   Basically we are F**ked.

   At least we are all in the same boat!

Good Luck and take care.

This is the best article I have found to date outlining what might happen in the near future: . I hope it helps inform your decisions.

Barry et al,

Also having a scientific background, and a business background, I have the same concerns: a) when will shows reopen, b) when do we feel comfortable doing a show, and c) will the customers come?

Right now, I conclude we simply can’t project show schedules, when we go back, if we go back. So, I am resigned to not have any shows until July or maybe October. This after spending a busy winter in the studio, gearing up for this show season.

We are all in the same boat.

Not much we can do about it.  The trailer is loaded with the trimline and propanels; artwork is packed and can be loaded in about 2 hours. I am ready to go. Maybe I get to go in June; maybe August, maybe it is February.

Do  I bother to finish applications for the fall shows? (for example, St James court deadline in a few days as you kindly mentioned) And pay the application fees?

Would I go stand in a crowd right now? No, probably not. In 2 months? Well, I will decide then.

Will the customers show up? Yes, probably the serious ones will. Everyone will want to get out. Some will be afraid to set foot outside of the house.

And of course after all that, the usually artistic concern: will they like my work?

Good for you and your wife Don, in caring for your mother.  My husband and I had parents living with us for 5 years, so I get it.

I think that people will go to the shows as long as they have govt. permission to go to them.  Whether they are buyers, not sure, although there are still people out there bringing in an income.

My show season doesn't start until June every year.

My first show is close and in a small town, 2 days. But it is the outskirts of Cleveland, OH, which has the highest amount of the virus in our state. That may not matter by June, but as of now, I have decided to not go. 

I stopped working for now until I can come up with a new production schedule. I was working on art pots but may switch to functional due to the uncertainty of the economy.

I had the same thought about switching to functional. My forms are really good because of all the years of throwing. Glazing? My entire first batch had pinholes and ran. Luckily I had clay disks under the pieces so the glazes stuck to them instead of ruining my shelves. I guess I need to work it out.

After 9/11 I stayed home from shows for awhile and did a LOT of glaze tests as well as clay tests. I put several combinations together but only did actual work with one. That decision turned out well because I have several options to pull from and perfect, which I have done over the past years. 

Your pinholes could be from the glaze being too thick, or cooling too quickly. Running means the firing was too hot.  But I'm sure that you knew all of that. (smile)

I think that a wait and see attitude would be wise.

I manage An Occasion for the Arts in Williamsburg, VA. The show is scheduled for the 1st week in Oct. Currently everything remains as planned but with adjustments to artist’s financial deadlines particularly the booth fee. I have moved the deadline for payment of booth fees as far back as possible, to Monday, August 17 (about 6 weeks until the show). The thinking is once we get to mid-August (before the payment deadline) if the virus situation hasn’t changed or is still a significant concern, we could cancel the show without tying up significant financial resources from artists. All shows need to be flexible with booth payments, this is not a time to hold artists financial resources with so much uncertainty. 

Good for You and Thanks!

    As I am sure you are aware some shows are not refunding booth fees, some are offering partial repayment and/or a discount credit for next year. Some of my shows are NOT changing deadline on payments (although some, to be fair, are extending payments and working with the artists) leaving us artists even further in the hole- I have lost income from 4 Spring shows and 6 future shows so you can imagine the financial shape I am in. I appreciate the way Y'all are managing this situation.

   To those others, we artists will remember and take note for next year. ART SHOWS DO NOT EXIST WITHOUT ARTISTS!!!

Every show that I am doing is issuing a refund for a canceled show. In fact, I won't pay the booth fee unless they guarantee in writing that I'll be getting that money back. Any show that doesn't issue a refund is begging to destroy their show. I, and many others, will never do a show again, if their show is canceled and they keep the booth fee. For every show that makes this major gaff, there are 10 others to take its place.

I am seeing very few "no refund" policies. Shows know. Those that don't see their events only as "money makers", shortsighted.

giving a shout out to Quail Hollow events (NY)  When they postponed the May show, they offered refunds. Having found an alternate date in June they are making the final decision to run the event based on a vote by the artisans.      I've applied to shows in Aug and Sept because they are outdoors where I think I and my customers will feel safer during the transition.


Fiber artists -- use this resource to find new buyers:  Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Our 50 Best Art Fairs

Look Inside the our latest Art Fair Survey:
Who Won and Why

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

Video Website Reviews

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2021   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service