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.
Oh my, JoAnn. Thanks for sharing that. This is so complicated. I'm thinking about shows who have rescheduled to fall and then existing fall shows losing prospective exhibitors. The rest of the year is going to require a lot of deep breathing and long term perspective while day to day life shifts under our feet. But, you wouldn't be in this business unless you were resourceful, so we'll just polish off those old tools.
I'm only looking at shows where I will get a full refund in the event it is cancelled. I'm also looking at smaller recurring events that allow arts and crafts like farmers markets. Those might start up sooner than full fledged festivals, can be handled on a weekly basis, and they are considered "essential businesses" in Illinois. Something is better than nothing.
Right now I don't know if I'll have any festivals until at least the 4th of July. Most of my income comes from festivals so this is not going to be a good year. Sucks because 2019 was one of my best years, and I would've loved to continue touring the Midwest selling my work at festivals in different cities every weekend.
Complicating matters is keeping track of all the cancellations and festivals that have been rescheduled to the late summer/fall.
I really hope a breakthrough comes soon for COVID 19. I've already thought of ways to set up my booth with social distancing rules. Funny how this thread was originally posted in mid March, when thought I still would likely be able to start my festival season in May like I normally do. Well look where we are now...
I currently have four shows on my schedule plus one application outstanding and one wait list. In 2019 I started to move away from doing a lot of shows. I got my work into two galleries and a gift shop and did a solo show at my art center. My plan which worked well in 2019 was to do only the big deal shows and smaller shows in my home and surrounding states. I have asthma which is well contolled until it isn't so I have to be very careful. Problem is ony one of the shows I have on my schedule (and one application outstanding) is what I would call a big deal show where I can be pretty sure I can make money. The others are "make contacts" kind of shows where I may or may not make money right away and I don't want to take a chance on doing a losing show. I had a real good winter with gallery sales, a solo show, and a nice commercial sale so finances are not great but okay right now. My first show that hasn't been cancelled is the end of July so a lot can happen between now and then.
I do hope that shows that do happen, if any, will change some things to make it safer for us. I'm really apprehensive about pole to pole setups and short setup times with everyone setting up at once. There was an interesting discussion on Facebook about changing the way things are done as far as setup. One interesting idea was to set up your booth with just a small opening in the front and then display on all the outside walls and keep your stock inside the tent. I'd need two more awnings but other that that it is an interesting idea.