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An open letter to artists of 2012 Mercato Fine Arts Festival

The Naples Art Association has listened to your concerns and read your comments about the 2012 Mercato Fine Arts Festival earlier this month. Thank you for your professionalism and understanding in what was a challenging weekend for all involved. The decision to cancel the second day of the festival was made with the best interests of everyone in mind, and we are sorry if any artist felt put off. I assure you it was not the intent of any member of our staff.  Rather, we recognize the impact this had on you and want to offer you a special reduced rate on next year’s show.  

Looking back on the festival and regarding our decision, we considered the severe weather forecast, the potential risk to the artists, customers and the Mercato complex as a whole, the damage that had already occurred and the potential for further damage.

The forecast for the day called for gale force winds of 35 - 40 plus miles per hour. The wind was more of a factor along some parts of the show lay out than others given the directionality of the gusts and the position of the buildings. Some areas were like a wind tunnel while others were not affected as severely. Many artists lost inventory on Saturday, and we did not want to put artists at risk for further loss when the weather was forecasted to be much worse on Sunday. Early Sunday, artists’ tents were blowing over – into other artists’ tents and to the ground – and staff members and volunteers were rushing around helping artists protect their art and equipment. Some artists still lost valuable property. We made the call to close and began helping artists load out. 

When the rain stopped and the sun came out, the weather seemed to clear up. Unfortunately the winds were still very strong and continued to be so for the rest of the day. Once the decision to close the festival was made, Mercato officials requested that the street be cleared as quickly as possible.

A decision in the midst of a situation like this has many considerations. Please know we made the call with broad perspective and with you in mind. We understand the hardship an artist feels when you’ve planned for a weekend of selling opportunity and half of that potential is cancelled. As professional artists in the festival business, I’m sure that inclement weather is a familiar risk to you.

The 2013 Mercato Fine Arts Festival will be a growing year. We’re offering 2012 Mercato artists an extra incentive to be a part of it. The jury process will stay in place because it helps keep the balance of artwork and is a fair way to continue allowing other artists the opportunity to participate. If you decide to apply and are juried into the 2013 Mercato Fine Arts Festival, the Naples Art Association will reduce your booth fee by $100.

The Naples Art Association wants you to succeed at our festivals. We’re a nonprofit organization driven by our mission to support the arts and help connect our community with top quality artists. Looking to the future, we have a renewed focus on building Mercato. Located in a high-traffic, affluent shopping area during the height of season, we feel this festival, having just finished its third year, has not reached its full potential. Thank you for your art, your talent and your constructive conversation; it helps us better see things from an artist’s point of view. With improved festival planning, new marketing ideas and taking your ideas into account, this show can grow.

If you choose to comment, we appreciate your keeping all notes civil, constructive and on topic. If you would like to speak privately or share additional ideas you are welcome to email PR Director Kathleen Taylor at Kathleen.Taylor@naplesart.org.

To your future success and future festivals with us,

The Naples Art Association   

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Comment by Greg Little on March 26, 2012 at 9:05pm

I would rather have a show partially cancelled that risk loosing my tent and woodwork. I just returned from participating in a 3 day show in Houston and while driving there Wednesday from 300 miles away I drove through a most intense rain and wind storm. It had passed through Houston and  I had to drive much of the way on the I-10 doing only about 40mph and saw an 18 wheeler crtashed in the ditch, an auto transport tuck full of cars it was transporting and more auto wrecks than I can count.

My wife and I started getting concerned about the show how this  the weather would affect it. If it would have been dangerous and damaging to artists and their stuff I would applaud them for stopping early or even cancelling part of or all of the show to protect my display and merchandise as well as everyone elses . Fortunately...it ended up being a fantastic 3 day show with  with excellent weather.

What price to you put on your tent and contents?

Comment by Kathleen Taylor on March 22, 2012 at 7:58pm
I agree, Sara, and I thank you for your feedback. A version of this letter is being signed by our Board president and mailed to participants prior to the call for entries. Thanks again!
Comment by Sara Aune on March 22, 2012 at 7:24pm

Bad weather is bad weather, artists and promotors share that risk.  We were there, and we agreed with the call to close. I applaud the decision to offer remedy to artists accepted next year, who were affected this year.   I would suggest though, Kathleen, that your open letter  be sent to all the 2012 participants, individually. It is likely that many of them are not members of AFI .

Comment by Kathleen Taylor on March 20, 2012 at 10:08am

Thank you all for your comments. No one ever wants to close a show; there's got to be a good reason. It will take hard work, of course, but we know brighter (figurative and literal) days are ahead for Mercato! Your continued support of it will make a difference.  

Comment by Jan Raven on March 20, 2012 at 12:01am

I appreciate such honest communication from a show, and I feel your jury/fee reduction offer is a sound one. It is too bad the weather was so bad, but it is part of the art show life style. Weather is always the wild card!  Kudos to the show staff for having the courage to close a show when conditions merited it.

Comment by David Bjurstrom on March 19, 2012 at 8:29pm

It's GREAT to see a show "do the right thing" and yes, I think the decision regarding reduced fees AFTER the jury is appropriate.
Every one of us working artists always runs the weather risk at every outdoor show. It's part of our business. Losing a day is not good but losing valuable work (or the potential for it) is far worse.
Because an artist lost this day in 2012 should not be a golden ticket into the 2013 show. That would be a very slippery slope to head down.

Comment by Scott Martin on March 19, 2012 at 5:05pm
I was not part of the show and did not apply but bravo Naples a.a.! This is a step in the right direction.
Comment by Shoshana Matthews on March 19, 2012 at 2:23pm

As unpredictable as weather is I think the decision to cancel was called for.  If the wind had continued as predicted (and for part of the day it did) many of us would have struggled to keep tents intact and art from being blown all over.  As much as most of us depend on art show income to pay all our bills, I'd still rather be safe than sorry.  I think the call on the part of the Naples Art Association was a difficult one and I applaud them for putting safety above all else. 

Comment by Kathleen Taylor on March 19, 2012 at 1:35pm

Thank you, Becky. That is certainly the goal. :)

Comment by Kathleen Taylor on March 19, 2012 at 1:34pm

That is a great question, Larry, and we did consider that possible perception. To be clear - we decided to do it this way because the jury process ensures the show is fairly balanced between types of artwork and still allows new artists (and artists who were a part of the show in the past) an equal opportunity to jury in. 2012 artist will NOT be excluded on this basis. They are simply allowed an equal opportunity to jury in. Those accepted will receive the reduced rate. 

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