Art Fair Insiders

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

Next Podcast: Show Organizers & Coronavirus


How are you feeling? I am totally enervated and concerned about the future of art festivals, not only in the short term but in the long run. I'm hearing from artists and reading comments on about "what next?" and I have to take some action. This exhaustion leads down a dire path. My answer: let's talk.

On this podcast art show directors will come together to discuss cancellations, refunds, rescheduling and the disruption to our business and what they are doing to keep their events and artists income alive for another day.

The first responders to our call for a panel, and who will be joining us:

Karen Delhey, Executive Director, The Guild of Artists & Artisans (Ann Arbor); Anne Curran, Executive Director, Armonk Outdoor Art Show (Armonk, NY); Jean Hungiville, President/CEO, Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce (FL); Amy Amdur, CEO and President Amdur Productions (Chicago area) and Mark Loeb of Integrity Shows (metro Detroit). 

The jumping off point from my inbox:

"I live in Massachusetts and do shows throughout the northeast, from Vermont to South Jersey, NY and the coast line of NJ, Ct, RI, NY etc. shows are start to cancel. Some are right on target with refunding the booth fees, some wasn't to reschedule (& we all know that's the kiss of death to shows) and some, are unscrupulously not refunding any money. I would love to hear from those promoters who are choosing to refund, reschedule, & run as to their thoughts."

We would love to have other show directors call in with their comments on the topic. Here's the #: (805) 243-1338.

(As always this will be recorded live and will also be downloadable forever from


Click here to listen:

Please put your questions in the comments below. There is SO much to discuss and we'll try to hit the most important issues. Let's help each other to a brighter day. 

Views: 691

Comment by Mark Zirinsky on March 21, 2020 at 11:00am
An idea: conducting the art fair as a group of "time limited" tours; using time slots to move a small group of through the festival at specific time intervals, with a guide, so that no 'crowd' of over 10 gathers at any one place?

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 21, 2020 at 11:47am

I like this idea, Mark, however I read this story on the Washington Post a couple of days ago that, to me, reinforces the idea of staying away from everyone. It is startling information and the graphics help a lot:

Comment by Mark Zirinsky on March 21, 2020 at 12:20pm

Thank you Connie. Yes, good epidemiology information. Yes, I am, due to age, probably in the same high risk group as most.

The purpose of my idea is to allow a partial show environment, while keeping social distancing, as a show backup plan, or some variation of it. If indeed, we do need to stay way from everyone all the time, more than a few weeks, then any gathering at a show is not workable. If, on the other hand, small gatherings are ok, then we need to figure it out. Today's time remind me of Sept 11; my instinct tells me this time is both different and the same.

Art shows will continue in some form, so what do we do in the meantime until things are normal again. Am I willing to stand there in a booth, and accept risk of exposure? If the customers are well behaved; perhaps as part of the price of admission, require them to read the article and graphics you mentioned, although I am thinking within a few more days, everyone will understand it. 

Of course, I am looking forward to hearing from the show directors, as they are wrestling with the various.

PS thank you for reading my last question during the last podcast, "Jurying"

Comment by Marti Johnson on March 23, 2020 at 9:44am

Wondering if an event have a fundraising arm, could they fundraise specifically to raise money to return booth and jury fees to artists?

Comment by Steven Robertson on March 23, 2020 at 10:40am

After the panic has died down, and it absolutely will eventually, we'll be talking about "back to normal". I'd like to see this conversation happen sooner than later. 

And a key component of "back to normal" is actually getting back to normal - or, better, not leaving "normal". 

Where I'm going with this is this:

I'm seeing shows as far out as June being cancelled. My recommendation - my plea - for directors is: do NOT cancel anything until the last possible minute. Neither you nor I knows how long this mess will last. And the only thing you gain from cancelling something three months in advance is the optics of "doing something". 

Please sit tight - put off the decision as long as you can. I realize that some shows will need to be cancelled, of course. But there will be a point in the future at which that will no longer be true. No need to act prematurely. Support the artists and support the community by being there for them when that time comes. And it will. 

Comment by Marti Johnson on March 23, 2020 at 10:57am

Steve, I do agree to a point. A couple of shows, Scottsdale and Vero ( I believe), cancelled during set up and first day start, incredibly difficult for artists. Shows needs to cancel at least 3-4 days before setup so artists can stop their travel plans

Comment by Steven Robertson on March 23, 2020 at 11:00am

For sure, Marti. I hope we're past that day-of stuff. Seems we are. I'd advocate for being reasonable and mindful on both ends. Mostly, I'm seeing one - I didn't experience the other. 

Comment by Geoff Coe on March 23, 2020 at 11:09am

I would like to see a cancellation decision made 3 weeks prior.  
1) Artists traveling from distant reaches put together travel schedules, and a cancellation wreaks havoc on logistics and finances.  
2) Advertising insertion/copy deadlines for print/radio are 2-3 weeks before the event (or at least, they were, when I was in the biz many years ago).  Point being: If show has to make a cancellation call before those monies are spent, it makes it easier to refund booth fees to artists without going in the hole.  
3) If a show goes in the hole because of cancellations, how do they recoup that money and stay viable?  Two courses of action I've seen so far: 
  a):  Raise booth fees for the next year's show
  b):  Expand the number of artists accepted 

Let's have discussion of the pros / cons of each approach

Comment by Steven Robertson on March 23, 2020 at 11:12am

Three weeks seems reasonable to me. Three months does not. 

Comment by Mark Zirinsky on March 23, 2020 at 11:51am

As one of the artists setting up at Scottsdale, I have to give due credit to the show, and specifically to the CEO of the Scottsdale Arts Festival,  Dr. Gerd Wuestemann, he made the difficult call, in fast changing conditions. Again, some of us were annoyed, but no one was surprised. Remember, at the start of this, things changed quickly, what a difference a week makes. Looking forward to the show director's take on this during the podcast.

Honestly, at Scottsdale, I was more worried about the rain and flash flood watch than I was about the possibility of the show being cancelled. I could deal with a show cancellation; a 40 year flood? that's tougher, what do you do, take 2 artists of every medium?


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