Art Fair Insiders

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

4 Festivals Make Big Changes: Chicago, Palm Springs, Seattle & Hong Kong

Okay, so we know two art fairs that announced their closing in recent weeks: in Columbus, OH and in Novi, MI. Here are some more big changes:

Chicago's (Evanston, actually) Custer Fair, a major summer art and crafts festival that has drawn as many as 120,000 visitors, is moving to Hammond, IN, after nearly a half century in Evanston.

Organizers Tammy and Steve Szostek plan to relocate the art fair that's had as many as 400 vendors to The Pavilion at Wolf Lake Memorial Park after 48 years in downtown Evanston. She said Evanston forced them to install expensive crowd control barricades last year ... read more

And this in the Palm Springs, CA, area: Palm Springs denies a long standing event held in Frances Stevens Park, the Desert Arts Festival, a permit to use the park. 

"The city is denying the festival's permits for March saying it has outgrown its location. Local artists who depend on this festival say they are stunned by the city's changes." read more

And this in Seattle: Bumbershoot, Seattle’s music and arts festival for the past 48 years, is likely to return this Labor Day, though in a smaller, scaled-back form. I know this is a music festival, but wanted to include it here because of the trend that seems to be appearing.

"The forecast for Bumbershoot has been cloudy for several years, but became particularly stormy last fall when megapromoter AEG decided to step away from its contract renewal option, putting the future of the festival in doubt. " read more

And just in case that doesn't make you pause for thought, how about this? The big, biggie, gallery events: Art world fights coronavirus with digital shows in wake of mainland China and Hong Kong event cancellations

How would you like to be showing your work only digitally??? Scary. Read more

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Comment by Carol Joy Shannon on February 25, 2020 at 1:14pm

I don't want to be the one wet blanket in a group of people who make their living like this, but after almost 20 years of doing many, many, many shows a year, I have seen every aspect of "show business" "downsizing."  During the last few years, even the "big" shows have been unreliable, in terms of attendance and sales. 

When I considered retiring at the end of 2019, I had this nagging intuition that something was going to make it even more difficult during 2020 than even an election year can make things.  Enter COVID-19, and the cancellation of Art Basel Hong Kong and even the Venice Carnavale. 

Again, I don't want to be the Debbie Downer, but all show artists should diversify their income streams.  As annoying as "online" and "digital galleries" may be to a lot of us old-school artists, it is the future, and finding digital galleries will become necessary for all of us at some point.

I miss the interaction of the shows: sharing the backstories of my paintings and hearing life stories of collectors and others.  I don't see art shows and craft shows disappearing tomorrow, but we all need to be aware that this is a model which has been successful for a half century and more, and may be getting soft and creaky like a lot of us!

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