Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
I used to do Howard Alan Shows. He has “regulars” who do many of his shows. I was one of them. He and Debby knew my work well. They know the work of their regulars. Some weekends I would call about a show I hadn’t even apply for and he would say, “Sure, I’ll find you a space”. I liked Howard and Debby, and though their entry fees were high, they put on many good shows. But then they implement a $15 jury fee for each and every show we applied for. That’s when I quit applying.
When I started doing art festivals in 1981, there was no such thing as a jury fee. Then, in the mid-eighties I saw my first one. It was $5. Until then, shows funded their own juries to assemble the best mix of artists they could. Now, 25 years later, shows treat the jury fee as a revenue stream, a cash cow from hundreds, even thousands of artists they know will never get anything but a “Dear John” letter. Good shows today get more than a thousand applications and charge upwards of $40. Do any of us really think it costs $40,000 to jury an event? The bottom line is we are often funding shows in which we do not participate.
Two years ago, when I was accepted to Main Street Fort Worth I was rewarded not only with a $20K show, but they reduced my entry fee 10% because they got so much money from an overwhelming number of jury applications. Why should we, the few who got into the show, be subsidized by the many who were rejected? Why not reduce next year’s jury fee by $5 so all applicants could benefit? Why not reduce the jury fee to what it actually costs to jury the show? Then charge the lucky ones who actually do the show enough to cover the costs. Seems like a common sense approach.
I recently sent a $25 jury fee to The Des Moines Arts Festival through Zapplication and went off on a road trip to do shows in Memphis and Pensacola. When I got home and caught-up on my email, I found one from Stephen King the director of The Des Moines Arts show. In it, he said he thought my digital photography should be moved from the photography category to the mixed media category. The email said if I agreed I should respond by a certain date. The date was long past. So, I thought, since I had not responded, at least my application would be juried in the right category. Right?
On my next visit to Zapp, I found my category had been changed to Mixed Media! Then I got an email from the show giving the statistics of the applications. In photography there were approximately 100 applications. In mixed media there were over 150. Needless to say, I recently got my “Dear John” letter from Mr. King.
What did I get for $25?
Here is what I wrote on the Des Moines application to describe my work in 200 characters or less:
“Images of wit & humor from my imagination. By blending digital files in Photoshop, I work to emulate traditional darkroom photography. All work is produced to archival standards.”
Here are several statements taken directly from the Des Moines application:
In addition to the rules of exhibiting, the following guidelines/restrictions apply to the jury process:
5. Photography may only be submitted for jury in the photography category.
Photography – The process of capturing images that begins with a camera lens, then printing the images, by chemical or digital means, onto a surface. The photography category includes traditional film photography, hand colored images, emulsion transfers and digital photography that has not been excessively manipulated to achieve results beyond what could be done in a traditional darkroom.
Mixed Media – Includes any combination of a variety of materials to create an original work of art.
In 31 years of applying to thousands of shows, I’ve never applied in any other category unless photography was divided and there was a Digital category.
Back in November when I got Mr. Kings email, I replied that I thought he should put me back in the right category and that his email intimated I wouldn’t be switched without my permission. Recently, I emailed him asking for my jury fee back “ for cause”. I didn’t get a reply back then and I don’t expect I will now.
Just what is it we get for our jury fee?