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

I was recently on a Zoom call with about 80 other art fair organizers.  It was quite impressive how knowledgeable and empathic they are.   Since I have about 40 years of event experience I presented some site plans and thoughts about opening safely.  Many people asked for copies, so I thought I should also share them with you all.  The basics are below or contact me if you would like copies of our individual show plans.  I have three shows coming up in the next two months, and each site (and stage in opening) requires different solutions.

Some basics- To achieve 6' social distancing aisles need to be wider and booths need to be further apart.  We're looking at 20' aisles and each space will have an aisle on three sides.   Two or three sides should be open to allow a breeze to get through.  Ideally, patrons shop from outside the booth. I know that is not practical for everyone.  The most important step would be to control access to the event.  For example, right now in lower Michigan, events are limited to 100 people at a time, which we would consider too few to operate a show.  By next month we expect a number between 250 and 500.  In order to be sure that we are not exceeding that it is important to have a single entrance and a good count. This also allows a quick screening for health concerns.

We invite others to borrow these ideas. If you have suggestions, please share them with me.  I am not locked in- safety is the key. Our goal is to support the artists this year, so including fewer booths and creating more space is essential. We are giving full refunds if we cancel and have a more flexible cancellation policy for artists. Booth rents are not due until 4 weeks out this year. 

We also understand that many artists are not yet ready to jump in.  Others are not able to participate due to routing issues- driving a thousand miles for one show is not generally affordable. 

Since this will inevitably lead to some artists canceling, we are looking for artists that may be interested.  Our jurors will review and select from those that complete the form at Space will be filled by medium to keep the show balanced.

If you have suggestions or would like clarification please email me at

All of these upcoming shows are in Southeast Michigan- 

Stony Creek Art Fair July 25-26,

Belle Isle Art Fair, August 1-2,

and we work with the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce on

Art of Fire (Clay Glass and Metal)  August 8-9.

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Comment by Sharon McAllister on July 5, 2020 at 11:42am

Larry's comment is certainly appropriate. It is my suggestion that we start another discussion in a month or so and gather artists and directors together for forward-looking ideas. My thought is that currently the directors need a little more time to get their "heads focused" with each other and then add more input. I know that for myself I can only absorb so much so fast. Thanks Larry for your support and input.

Comment by Connie Mettler on July 3, 2020 at 9:48am

Safety at events, making sure everyone is okay -- the public, the artists, the surrounding community will plague us for a long time. There is hope that most of our events are outdoors. Imagine if we were hosting indoor concerts -- entertainers are really out of luck, unless they also have other gigs going, busy on their social media accounts, posting and sharing news with their fans and creating new work. Still, we'll be hosting outdoor events before they will.

On that Zoom meeting that is sponsoring, Sharon and I are bringing show directors across the country to meet and speak with one another. We've hosted 3 meetings so far. It kind of reminds me of when NAIA was started. Artists traveled far and wide but that organization brought them together as a unit and attracted the attention of the show directors. This was the first time the event organizers started talking to each other and addressed mutual concerns.

Be assured, Larry, there is tremendous empathy with the artists from them and I'm continually struck by their putting the artist first. 

Comment by Larry Berman on July 2, 2020 at 7:58am

Even with all the experience I have, I find that the amount of issues a show director has to deal with to be way more complicated than I realized. I wish more artists could understand what show directors have to go through, especially in these trying times. I have suggested to Sharon McAllister that she consider letting a few select artists monitor the show director's zoom meetings so they could more understand and pass the word on. It really is a partnership between artists and show directors with each side bringing different issues to the table for a successful event.

Now that I'm getting more comfortable with using zoom, I would be happy to work on a Zoom conference with you.

Larry Berman

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