Art Fair Insiders

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

Being told our position on a wait-list

So frustrating trying to comprehend why providing artists their jury score and position on the wait-list of an event is such a difficult task for shows to perform.  A few do, very much to their credit and thank you to each and every show that does so.  Most do not.  Some actually get a pissy if you ask for the position on the wait list.

First point, we paid a jury fee for the jury process and that jury score.  Did we not?  And for that $25 to $50 jury fee, are we out-of-line to expect to be provided our jury scores, cut-off scores, and thus where we stand on a wait-list?  I hope show Directors will wade in on this with their rationale.  Educate us why they do not think this is valuable to us, or why they do not have the money to do so.

If a show is truly and honestly juried, each artist has been scored by each juror, those scores totalled to determine who is in, who is out and - who is wait-listed. That score determines what their position is in their medium - and on the wait list, does it not?  

As for communicating that information it has bee provided historically by some shows, probably currently is being done by some, and absolutely positively in this age of computers and the internet - CAN BE DONE.  Broadripple used to put the scores by individual jurors online based on application ID - maybe they still do.  Des Moines used to send out a PDF of the individual jury scores - maybe they also still do so.  Uptown used to send out paper forms with individual juror scores.  Most show do not bother, some  say do not even bother asking as we will not tell you. 

As artists, we realize we will not get into all the shows we really hope to have on our schedule.  Duh.  So we typically apply to multiple shows on the same weekend so we have hope of getting juried into at least one of those events.  Increases our cost of doing business substantially but under the current business model of how most shows are runs, seems unavoidable.  Shows have different application dates, different jury dates and different pay-your-booth-fee-by dates. Some shows refund if you withdraw before the event, some depending on how far out from the event, and others just do not refund your booth fee once it is paid.

I say this last part because that, IMO, is the chief reason for shows to let you know where you are on a wait-list (besides the "we paid for it in the jury/application fee" argument). If we are wait-listed, and another show says "come on down!" and they have a non-refundable booth fee policy, it would be nice to know where we are on a wait-list for the show we most hope to do, would it not?  If we were #1 or #2 is it not a completely different question to wrestle with than if we are #8 or #20 on the wait list? (yes, shows do now have wait-lists that exceed the total number of artists in that medium in that event - sometimes by up to a factor of 2 or 3!).

So this is the communication/courtesy factor:  if we are so far down on the wait-list that given how far down a show has historically ever gone, why not let us know our position on the wait-list and how far down you have ever gone on the wait-list so we can make a meaningful decision to either commit elsewhere or hold out - or even drive to the show and see if a spot opens at the last minute if we are high on the wait-list?  If show Directors and Promoters truly care about the artist base and the success of artisans, is this an unrealistic expectation?  To provide us what we paid for and what we need to make our economic/business decisions?

I think that is a rhetorical question.  It is not an unreasonable request.  Though I open the door to be convinced otherwise.

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Comment by Craig Roderick and Sara Beck on July 13, 2017 at 8:05am

I agree with everything you said.  It ought to be a routine practice to at least give your place on the wait list.  

Comment by Tammie T Everly on July 12, 2017 at 10:33pm
I love your idea. I have not yet achieved entry into a high end show, but in an effort to improve, I have emailed organizers after being rejected and asked for feedback. Some have offered guidance, most have not. It's a never ending puzzle to try to figure out what juries like.
Comment by Ron Mellott on July 12, 2017 at 4:59pm

Thank you, Nels for adding your view and voice to this.  It may never change, though the only way it ever will is we make our point - politely but forcefully, unite as much as we can in our voice, and hope that show directors and promoters will revisit their policy and change it for those reason.


Thanks again, Nels.

Comment by Nels Johnson on July 12, 2017 at 1:40pm
Meant dinero
Comment by Nels Johnson on July 12, 2017 at 1:40pm
Echo your sentiments 100%.
Unfortunately, there is an arrogance out there, among many shows, who just feel they cannot be bothered.
As you so accurately pointed out, we need that info in order to make a decision about accepting a show and pay the fee rather than wait for a better show and hope we get the call.
Unfortunately, the arrogance will not change.
Bottom line, they care more about themselves than the welfare of artists.
We live in, which was once a very mellow business, and now is always about the bottom line, how much diner is can they make off the artists. There is a certain Chicago Art Show Promoter who personify so it so well.

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