Art Fair Insiders

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

Birmingham, Birmingham, Greatest City in Alabam.'..

You can travel 'cross this entire land.There ain't no place like Birmingham. That's from a Randy Newman song.

I haven't written a review in a long time, but, I have a week before I get to Greenville SC for Artisphere. I'm sitting in a coffee shop on  the border of Georgia and South Carolina in Lavonia Georgia, population 2600.

I just did the Magic City Arts Festival. I had never been to this show before, so, I didn't know what to expect. If fact, I have never been to Birmingham. Hell, I had never been to Alabama except once passing through on the way back from Florida. They used to make steel here and the show was on the grounds of an old steel mill, the Sloss Foundry, that they turned into a museum of sorts. One look and I was thinking that I made a big mistake coming here. It's not the most picturesque place for an art fair. It's in the middle of industrial buildings and manufacturing businesses. I was thinking "who would come here." Trains ran in two directions constantly and you couldn't talk to anyone when they were running or worse when they would blow their whistle. The warning sound of oncoming trains at the train crossing pinged nonstop. It only took 5 minutes to start driving me crazy. I set up anyway. Once I pay my booth fee, I will do the show. I'm too cheap to blow off the booth fee.

The show was in 3 sections. There was an "exclusive" section that had a special jury. Those booths were $215 more for some reason. I was in the yellow section which was next to the exclusive section. I saw no difference. In fact, I think the yellow section was better than the more expensive booths. They did get a certain amount of hype and those people in that section said that they usually sell more, maybe because they are promoted better. There was a third section, the blue section, that was seperated from the other two. I feel sorry for those people who got stuck there. It was a ways away from where we were. I think people just got to the end of the yellow section, turned around, and went home. People had to pass my booth on the way in and on the way out. Except for the constantly moving trains, I liked where I was. To be fair, because of COVID, they moved the show here from downtown. They hadn't worked out the kinks. The director did say they would eliminate the blue section next year.

Booths were spaced out with 6 feet in between booths. I noticed there were a lot of cheap EZ Up tents with inadequate weights. I think they let in a lot of locals who did this as a hobby probably because not a whole lot of professional artists were there.

The crowd was sparse. They charged a $12 gate fee. Usually not a good sign. However, people who came, came to buy. I had a really good show. It was better than any of the Florida shows I did this year. I did twice what I thought I would do. I was just hoping to pay for the trip, which includes Artisphere, which is maybe the second best show in the country next to Main Street Fort Worth. I more than doubled what I expected. Everyone I talked to had a good show. Most were surprised. I didn't talk to anyone in the blue section. I was afraid of their answer.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday. It only rained all Friday night and stopped at 8 AM Saturday. Perfect timing. It was a three day event and I sold about the same every day. At 5 PM Saturday, just before the end of the day, a huge storm came in that lasted only 15 minutes. About 25 of those EZ Ups and those Euromax tents went down. The booth next to mine flew into my walls and knocked over a couple of pieces. Only one got destroyed. The weather was worse in that blue section. If I had been there you would still see the steam coming out of my ears. I'd be asking for my money back. I wonder if ACT paid those people who buy their full insurance got replacement value for their damaged booths? If someone dealt with them and sees this I wish they would report on their experience. I always wonder if they really pay off or it's just a scam. They did do a podcast here extolling the virtues of their insurance. I've certainly given them money over time.

I'll probably go back next year unless I don't get into Artisphere. Usually it's the same weekend as Oklahoma City. So we'll see.

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Comment by Richard L. Sherer on Wednesday

During set up at Golden one year, a pre-thunderstorm gust of wind picked up a half assembled pop up, and dropped in  down on an artist's brand new Suburban, denting and scratching it.  EXPENSIVE BODY WORK! for flying booth artist. Make sure you are covered. The rest of the show had ideal Colorado weather.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on Wednesday

Richard, I agree with you about the newbies not taking the insurance seriously enough. Everyone needs a full policy to protect themselves along with a solid tent, proper weights, and stabilizer bars. When they say they can't afford it, I say they can't afford not to. To me, it's all about protecting other peoples work, tent, etc. I would feel horrible if my tent crashed into someone else's booth or worse injured someone. I've seen them fly down an isle. It's a business investment. The ACT insurance is so comprehensive that, for art fairs, it's all one needs. They understand what we need, too.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on Wednesday

Troy Smith  thanks for commenting. ACT provides a valuable service to artists whose businesses do not require the extensive coverage like mine.  You guys are the lucky ones. 

Comment by Troy Smith on Tuesday

Richard - Thanks for your insights, we also agree that a good insurance partner will take the pain out of facilitating the additional insured certificate requests process. All of our additional insureds certs are free and unlimited for our ACT policyholders and we have also automated the process so that a policyholder can add an event organizer/promoter as an additional insured to their policy within minutes through their smartphone or online.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on Tuesday

Insurance is often overlooked by newcomers so discussions of all aspects are important to artists. I incorporated (Sub S) back in the 1970's for product liability for equestrian products, then expanded coverage for shows in early 1990's. Early on  I had a mish mash of policies until I discussed it with pro. I learned it was important that your home, in home studio, vehicle (transporting art work), product liability, and physical show coverage needed to be with the same carrier. Otherwise, you would be spending a lot of time haggling over who was responsible for covering what. Just passing on what I learned for what it is worth. A good outfit has now problem sending a FAX of PDF to a show that requires proof insurance coverage too. 

Comment by Troy Smith on Tuesday

Barry - Thanks for all of your comments, your insights are appreciated. Your question about the pros & cons of purchasing an annual vs. an event policy is a very common question that comes up.

Here is a great link/resource to compare the two options and make the best decision for your own business:

Best of success with your business.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on Tuesday

I have a lessened learned the hard way story about not buying insurance. There was a time when I didn't take having insurance seriously. As I said I use Craft Huts. They don't make them anymore and I had parts wear out. I was looking for a used replacement. In the meantime I bought a popup and used it for a while with no disasters. Then, at one show,  it was very windy and the tent next to mine blew en mass into my tent and knocked everything over, destroying everything. I bought the ACT insurance the next week and have had it ever since.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on Tuesday

Troy, this is the response I was looking for. Since I have an old Craft Hut for a tent, wood walls, proper weights, and stabilizer bars, I have never had to file a claim. So, the question came up in my mind as to what would I get if one of the tents flew into my booth and destroyed it? I wasn't intimating that ACT insurance was a scam, something that Connie misinterpreted. It's great to know that if someone's tent flew into mine, I would be covered. I wasn't planning on filing a claim for the piece that got ruined. It would only be an estimate as to what material costs would be. Some of the cost would be about how much propane I use in a firing, which would be two firings. Each piece, also, gets 3 electric kiln firings. The propane firings are one at a time. I may fire 8 pieces in my electric. If it costs $8 per firing is that $8 or $1 per piece? Then I would have to figure out exactly how much glaze material I would use. This is rhetorical. Not meant to be answered. The cost would just be an estimate. It would be easier if all the work was destroyed because I could do a bulk cost. A question comes up that would it be better to have the insurance or save the money and buy a new booth with the money not spent. Then the liability question comes up. I used to just buy the liability insurance per show to save money. Then I called you and found out that customer has ever filed a liability claim and you said no. It could be argued that those who choose this option is throwing money away. However, the possibility is real and it is needed even if the probability is remote. Consider that if someone trips, falls, in a booth and cuts themselves on a pedestal. It's not a chance any of us should take. I think it's a mistake to buy the liability option. It's a much better deal to buy the insurance for the whole year. We get more for our money.

Comment by Troy Smith on April 29, 2021 at 6:31pm


First, thank you for your business and for being a policyholder for these many years. I loved reading your post today and learning about your experience at the Magic City Arts Festival except regarding the damage of one of your art pieces.

You posed a great question with your comment about ACT insurance and our willingness to pay out claims at replacement value. One part of your ACT Annual policy includes Inland Marine & Business Personal Property coverage. That part of the policy coverage could address a claim in the event your unapprised artwork or inventory was damaged or stolen. If it is determined that it fits within the coverage details, we would pay out based on the cost of replacement materials of the artwork. Such as for a painting it may include canvas, frames, easels, paint, etc.

Unfortunately, it would not cover the labor to create that artwork. Insurance company payouts typically cover replacement/cost of goods and not "market" or "finished" value as that is often subject to interpretation. Fine Art Coverage is available for appraised artwork through our website.

I have included some examples of past claims and payouts that you and others may find interesting:

“Rain damage to business personal property/notecards; greeting cards in sleeves and art products of prints.” Payout = $592.00

“Insured reports wind/rain damage to tent canopy and artwork.” Payout = $3208.00

“During the evening and late night, a storm came through the event. Tents and displays were thrown everywhere. Tent, product and displays all broken and crashed on the ground.” Payout = $1615.00

“Gust of wind damaged tent and destroying art supplies and easels.” Payout = $2209.00

“Claimant alleges MacBook Pro was damaged beyond repair by other party at a meeting.” Payout = $849.00

“Upon opening booth at start of business day - discovered missing items - stolen rings, 4 trays consisting of 72 rings.” Payout = $2443.00

“Art piece was damaged beyond repair during shipment in transit from insureds place of business to the customer’s house.” Payout = $450.00

You have any questions about ACT Insurance or have had an accident at an art festival, please do not hesitate to contact our support department at 844-520-6991 or go online to and get assistance.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on April 29, 2021 at 2:42pm

Nels, I think you could do $4-$5K if you were in a good section. However, I have no idea what you would do. So, don't take my word for it.

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