Art Fair Insiders

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

How can shows not refund booth fees in this economy?

I just found out Lake Forest Illinois does not refund your booth fee if you have to cancel, and their reply/pay date is one day before Long's Park, so if we get into Long's Park and decide to do it instead of Lake Forest, we pay both booth fees. How do shows get away with this? I know it is only $395, but it is $395, and right now we have alot of other bills we can pay with that money. Is it possible to call and ask for an exception of one day?

Views: 1630

Comment by Larry Berman on April 7, 2012 at 3:43pm

You're assuming Long's Park will notify artists on time. What if they are a day or week (or more) late?

I remember one year Connie had Arts, Beats & Eats extend their deadline until after Long's Park notified artists.

Larry Berman

Comment by Bruce Meyer on April 7, 2012 at 4:22pm

The theft of the booth fee by art shows is the most egregious injustice in this whole industry.  The very idea that an art fair director could think it appropriate to resell a booth without returning the fee to the cancelling artist is unethical.

Unfortunately, there are NO show directors who actually accept that this theft of a large amount of money is wrong, very wrong.

An artist may cancel any show for ANY reason at ANY time and IF the booth is resold, the cancelling artist MUST have his/her booth  fee returned with a MINOR administrative fee.  To do otherwise is unethical and immoral and that directors continue to do this should be unacceptable.

The only way to counter this shady practice is to pick on of the major shows who do not return the fee if the booth is resold and en-mass refuse to apply.  Maybe pick 3 or 4 a year until the directors actually understand that they are engaging in an unethical act.  Lets start with ABE for next year and add to it Cherry Creek and Madison and any Amy Amdur show.

Comment by Maureen Roberts on April 7, 2012 at 4:27pm

Hi Larry, Thank you for your reply. We only wish everyone thought of artists when they make these deadlines, and maybe they do. I feel like i am playing chess and waiting for the other person to make a move. The only problem is that this is our life, and one of three income streams, online, studio custom work and shows, show being the biggest stream. I defer to your experience and suggestions based on your own experience what you would do in our position. I will take everything everyone says under consideration.

Comment by Rich Terry on April 7, 2012 at 10:39pm

I see complaints regarding this issue on a regular basis... The only way to cure the issue is for everyone to boycott a major show and send a message to those who require the booth fee prior to acceptance. It also makes it very difficult when trying to schedule a 5 or 6 week tour. Booth fees should be required within so many days of acceptance, not with the application! But this will never happen because there are too many who would jump at the chance to get into a show and too many shows will take what ever they can get to generate revenue...

Comment by Richard P Sullivan on April 8, 2012 at 8:34am

Bruce Meyer there are indeed show directors who refund booth fees.

Comment by Maureen Roberts on April 8, 2012 at 9:26am

Hi Richard, Thank you for your reply. I am aware of the shows that do have a refund policy and due dates for the refunds, and the percentages of the refunds depending on the timeline. I was concerned more than complaining and i regret any miscommunication on my part. I am a business owner and have return/refund/credit policy in place for over 15 years now. I have heard great things about your shows Richard and look forward to participating in the future. I want to thank Bruce for his brave and passionate response, it takes courage to make a stand and speak your mind, knowing there are show directors reading this site. Peace and always Love, Maureen

Comment by Bruce Meyer on April 8, 2012 at 9:39am

Richard.  Your policy is similar to the policies of many shows.  It falls far short.

Return of fee policy should be simple and read like this.
"If any artist cancels his or her participation in the show and the space is filled from the wait list, the booth fee will be returned to the artist who originally rented the space.  Minor administrative fees may incur."

No reason needed.  IF the space is resold, the show has no right to keep more that one fee.

Comment by geri a. wegner on April 8, 2012 at 2:24pm

And what about the person who gets that booth space?  If it is too late to get them  into the program, do they get a discounted booth fee?  They didn't get all the services provided to early accepted artists.  I honestly don't remember if I have ever seen an empty space at a show.  

Once again, everything is weighted so that the promoter makes money, no matter what.  The only time a promoter may lose money is if they charge admission fees and the attendance isn't what they wanted.  

How about leveling the playing field?

Comment by Maureen Roberts on April 9, 2012 at 10:01am

Thanks Jacquelyn for your Vegas comparison, we are in our 2nd year now and are seeing how we have to have a built in back up system with the understanding that this business is risky and expensive for the investment. We are going to have a clearer picture of how much we want to invest in doing this part of our business. We love the freedom and meeting amazing artists and the road and that holds a lot of weight  in  our decision making. Having been tied to a brick and mortar in New York City for almost 15 years and working 7 days a week, this little compromise, with further reflection, seems so small. It is the cost of doing business.  I do appreciate your honest opinion. Peace, Maureen

Comment by Scott Huntley on April 9, 2012 at 10:32am

This may be a surprise for many of you, but I'm a show director who is going to agree 100% with Bruce. Though no show can say that they will refund booth fees for booths that remain unsold, it is unacceptable and completely unethical to take two payments for the same booth space. Our rules are set up so that we are not stuck at the last minute with an unpaid space that has been reserved for months by an artist who, at the last minute, just decides that they don't want to drive that weekend. If, however, we can fill that space with an artist from our waiting list who is willing to pay for it, we will always return the booth fees (less an administrative fee to cover the costs of doing the paperwork and cutting the check) and there is no excuse for any show that does not do this. The ONLY excuse for keeping booth fees from an artist who has to pull out of a show, is if that booth space cannot be resold. A booth space that is "returned" at the very last minute is like a shirt being returned because you spilled wine on it, that is just as unethical as keeping two payments. - Just my two cents.


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