fees (8)

Hello! Anybody out there?

Is everybody just folding up tent?

I recently posted two items that were meant to start a discussion and gather information on substantive issues we are all facing in the art fair business.  But I have not received a single comment on either post.  Perhaps you missed them as they were buried in a sea of “Tent for sale” posts that now dominate this board.

We used to have excellent discussions and reports on this board.  Why, at this moment in time when we are faced with more existential questions than ever, is there no interest in sharing information and discussing important changes and challenges?  Is it because everyone on this board is folding up tent and quitting the business? 

Or are some of us still trying to make it work?  If so, let’s talk.

Here are some existential topics begging for reports and discussion:

  • Covid restrictions: Some fairs are restricting traffic, requiring face masks, requiring vaccination, spacing booths apart, not allowing more than two people to be in a booth at the same time, etc.  Are these rules keeping your customers away?  Did you know about them before you set up?  Were they enforced?  Can you make money under these rules?
  • Is the art fair business copying the cruise industry in asking for up-front cash payments for events that may not take place or may be rescheduled, and for which you may or may not get your money back or get “future cruise credits” for instead? Are some art fairs in 2021 pretending to jury in new applicant while rolling over all 2020 invitees?  Which promoters are most likely to go under with our booth fees in their pockets?  How can we prevent that?  Escrow accounts?  Are promoters collecting booth fees for events that they do not yet have all of the permissions for?  Should they be required to tell us when that is the case?
  • Are suburbanites still willing to go downtown for an art fair in this era of social strife and exploding urban murder rates? Any sign that art fairs could be targeted?  Is art fair security being compromised when there is a demonstration in another part of the same city?

You probably have more topics like this.  What would be most useful would be reports from people who have experiences with these topics that they can report on, rather than just opinions.

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So the results are starting to roll in for the better mid-atlantic juried events. I know that accepted artists at events do not ask for their scores. Accepted is accepted and you're happy.

But what about those shows where your work is on par with what you see at the event, but you applied early; thought your images were good and your booth image was strong... but still didn't make the cut?

The jury process is not transparent. Most show directors I have requested scores from will not, as a matter of policy discuss jury scoring. Their events are black boxes... You pay a fee to submit your images and get back only a yes, no, or maybe for the event.

If an event has a scoring system for their jurors, why is it a problem to provide something besides an accept/reject/wait list response to artist applications?

If there's a scoring system, please provide the artists scores as a meager form of feedback. We may not like them, may disagree with them, but at least it is something. If you are scoring the booth images, provide your standards and give this as a separate score.

Is there anything wrong with an expectation of feedback given that you are paying a fee to an event to judge your work

I just received two rejections from a prominent Philadelphia event. I wrote the show director (not for the first time) and asked for my scores. The reply back was the same - we do not provide scores, and in time past they have cited other events of their caliber not providing scores either as part of why they do not provide scores.

Word was that ZAPP was going to add a scoring module to their software.... Anybody know the current state of this initiative?

Is anyone getting numeric or otherwise scores from their jury entries?

I applied for my states artist fellowship program this past year. I didn't get the fellowship and they did not provide scores. However, they did provide written comments from the juror.

So, I have to ask my juried brethren: if I can get written feedback from that level of juried competition and do not have to pay a fee, why should I expect any less from a for-profit/non-profit event jury, who is charging me for the privilege of asking to participate in their event?

Yes, scoring disclosure requires explaining what things are being scored in a given event. They may require showing (in example of a booth image) what top-level, middle of the road, and booth-fail booth images look like...

I am uncertain how one would establish criteria for scoring paintings.. Would Jackson Pollack jury into your better quality events these days? (I don't think so) How about Rothko? (well his stuff would match the couch and wall color schemes... Both of them made couch sized pieces... Warhol would probably get into some events, unless they thought his art factory approach meant that the all original aspects by the artist were being betrayed...well actually this might work in his favor - he'd never run out of products to sell...

But, if you are going to be a subjective jury, say so, say what the criteria are; and then disclose how the artists stacked up to those criteria.... If I am paying a fee for the privilege of applying for admission to pay more $ to maybe sell some products, I think it's the least a juried event should provide to those who didn't make the cut... I may not agree with the decision, but I at least know what the jury is looking for and will be able to perhaps craft an entry which will make me more likely to be competitive the next time I apply...or know that I need to improve my display.

Despite not being accepted for the Philadelphia shows (judged by "highly qualified 2D and 3D fine artists" and stated criteria, "Decisions of the jury are based on the quality, uniqueness, consistency and professionalism of the artwork")., I have been accepted for at least one Howard Alan event and waitlisted for the Rockville A-RTS event in 2014. So, I must be doing something right..

What are others experiencing this year on jury score disclosures. I know several artists on this board made a point of asking for scores. Are we making a difference? I note with interest that jury fees seem to be a little bit less aggressive this year....

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Here is me, sending jury fees for shows that I don't even know I'm going to get in, so why not? Let's apply sometimes for two shows on the same weekend in case I get rejected in one, or if I am lucky to get accepted in both then I can chose, it's only a jury fee, or two, times 12. Oh! But wait! Getting invited as returning artist to couple and guess what...We need your booth fee for a show that is in 4 to 6 months. Oh! But I forgot...It's January, just after Holiday season, which means I went over board with dinners, parties, presents so my wallet is empty. Another detail...I am in Chicago. I don't travel to FL shows because I have 3 little kids that I can't leave so I have to stay local. So not too many shows during winter season. Oh! Yes, my materials that I just ordered online, just 1,000.00 and I will still need couple more things. So I have more expenses than $$$ in my bank. Ha!!! I will cross my fingers and will send booth fees when I start making $$ in my shows. And the question is...Am I going to make money enough to cover all my booth fees. That my friends...IS THE QUESTION!

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Show agreements/contracts

Hi to all,

I am writing this to make all Artists, crafters and vendors aware of agreements/contracts issued by show promoters.  In talking with several other artists, it seems that a lot of them do not really read the fine print.  I can not say strongly enough that you need to read and understand what you are signing.  If you are not sure what it says, ask your lawyer.  It is very important. 


The shows that I am talking about are in the Chicago suburban area, but this could occur anywhere.


I just received the second solicitation from a promoter that I have never heard of before.  The first solicitation to participaate in their show indicated that this is  a first show for them.  (red flag)  Show was going to have over 300 booths.  (red flag).    Cost of booth was between 250 to 700.  (red flag).  Show had an admission fee of $5.00.  (red flag).


Let me explain my impression of the red flags.     A first show;  What is the size of their data base to attract customers to the show?   Over 300 booths;  Filling that many spots with a first show could result in "sponsors" or buy/sellers to fill the spots.  Booth cost of 700.00 for a 10X10 means that these would be corporate or sponsors most likely.  A 5.00 admission could keep a lot of buyers away.  It is unknown if there is a parking fee. 


Then I received another solicitation from this promoter for a remodeling show coming up in a week.  Saying that they had 16 booths available for arts and crafts at the show.  Cost was 200 plus 200 for electric.  ????  Like I am sure that someone going to a home remodeling show is going to buy some art.  LOL


OK that is what has been received from this promoter.  The application and agreement that they want you to sign is included and of course there are no refunds if you dont do the show.   Now let me get to the meat of this blog.  In reading their agreement I noted the following:


Distribution of samples and printed matter of any kind, or any promotional material, or staff associated with your company is restricted to the confines of the exhibit booth. No noise makers or anything not in keeping with the character and high standards of Show Host may be distributed or utilized by an Exhibitor in the exhibit area. Orders only may be taken at the show; no individual sales with exchange of money.  (emphasis added)


I re-read that several times because I could not believe it.  After seeing that on the first solicitation, I wrote via email to the promotor and asked if that was true.    She did respond timely, and answered my questions but said she would have to get back to me on that point.  Now she is the promotor and cant answer this question????    Like I am going to pay $400.00 for a front section booth to pass out brochures.   LOL    In your dreams.  Well as of today, which is 24 hours later, no reply to my selling question.  Then I received the second solicitation for the home remodeling show at Arlington Park and it has the same agreement. 


So if you get an application and agreement from a promoter be sure you read it carefully and fully understand it before agreeing to it.   I know a lot of artists that would be terribly upset to find out that after they stock their booth, they could not sell their product. 


B. David Kruser


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Dirty Little Secrets

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately from artists with the same concerns as mine.  Extended deadlines after artists have already been rejected.  Exorbitant late application fees.  Calls for Artists issued after certain categories are full without disclosure of the categories that are open, if any sometimes.  The number of available spaces and applications per medium not fully disclosed.  Unknown jury members.  Shows trolling artist websites prior to ‘blind’ jurying.  Sneaky Buy/Sell crap.  Application and booth payment deadlines almost a year before the show date.  Advertised award amounts that are never given out.  Unfair refund policies.  Rising booth costs, rising application fees, rising expenses, dwindling returns.   Shows that are all about the spectacle of a festival not about the art.  Blacklisting artists because of their outspokenness.  And the many other dirty little secrets that prevent artists from reaching their full potential.


Many artists wring their hands and lament there is nothing that can be done about any of this, it’s always been this way, you have to learn to fight within the system, blahblahblah.  Not me.  I want to make a difference.  I PLAN to make a difference.  It is my future and I will fight for it.  If you want to make a difference also, The Corner Booth (http://www.thecornerbooth.proboards.com/) is a good place to start.  Don’t come there looking for advice on tents or weights or good photos.  Don’t come to hear Cumbaya and violins playing while a show’s selection of bagels is lauded around a website.  Come for spirited dialogue about the really important stuff I mentioned above.   Call out the shows for their behavior, good and bad, and be specific in your examples.  Strong opinions are needed, both pro and con.  Your opposition will be just as valued as your approval.  Don’t miss out on the companion site http://nationalartistsadvocacyinstitute.wordpress.com/ if you haven’t gone there yet.  Lots of amazing ideas there.


One concept formulated on TCB is if artists know more about the shows themselves, they can make more educated decisions about which shows to participate in.  TCB has undertaken its first project to gather and analyze statistical show information obtained from polling a number of prominent shows.  Much of the information requested is currently available somewhere already, either on the shows’ sites or one of the online entry systems.  But the heart of the survey, how many spots are really available and how many applications are received per medium, is what artists really need to see.  And what many shows don’t want the artists to see.  Broad Ripple and Krasl are two known shows that already share this information with their applicants.  TCB just wants to make it available for everybody, and about as many shows as possible, hopefully all of them. 


The goal of this first survey is not to pass judgment, not to organize a boycott, not to embarrass or humiliate an organization.  It’s simply an attempt to get valuable information into the hands of the artists.  Knowledge is power.  Let’s get some.  No more just blindly throwing jury fees at a show hoping they’ll stick.  To be sure, we should all have the confidence to think our art is the best and we can beat out 21 other applicants for a show’s 5 spots.  But what if there were really only two spots?  Now how about 10 spots?  Don’t you just want to KNOW what you’re up against?  More surveys are in the works.   There are just too many issues to try to address all of them in one poll. 


I’m hoping what comes out of this effort is a little more disclosure and transparency from the shows.  I don’t care if a show has 300 booths, and gives 298 of them to its preferred artists.  AS. LONG. AS. THEY. TELL. ME.  I don’t care if a deadline is extended, but I do want to know why, what categories might already be filled, and how many applications they’ve already received in my category.  I want to know who their jury members are, and what other shows share those same jurors.  I want to know they jury out and/or kick out buy/sell crap because they are knowledgeable enough to do so.  I want them to value my art, not feel so threatened by my opinion that they blackball me.  I want all of these things and more.  I want it to be about the art, not the side-show.

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Reston Late Fee

So I got an email saying the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival had extended their deadline until November 30, so I thought what the hell, Lucy's kneeling there, holding that football, and she has such a nice smile on her face, why not try to kick that ball again? We all know how that story ends- Charlie Brown flat on his back in the grass again.

Even so, I was ready to try! They've never let me into their show before but maybe this new group of images is the winning ticket!

So I got all ready to fill out their application, and then I saw their application fee- $50. Outrageously high to begin with, and then my eyes popped out of my head when I saw that after November 1st there is a $50 late fee.

So, they are offering me the PRIVILEGE!! of paying $100 to have my images projected in front of their esteemed jury for eight seconds, and then maybe, just maybe, have a chance to do their show.

I just can't bring myself to do it.

No thank you Northern Virginia Fine Art Show. I don't know what kind of economic times you people are living in but this artist doesn't spend $100 on the POSSIBILITY of doing anything. 

So next year I will either apply early ($50 still seems steep- it's the highest I've seen), or maybe just accept that Reston and I were not meant to have our three days in the sun.
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While I am happily typing away this morn I wanted to address one of my pet peeves about street shows right now.

The escalation of booth fees at shows on all levels is really getting out of hand--especially in this economy.

I just did my app for the Milwaukee Lakefront show on Zapp this morn.  They want $500 for the booth fee.  I have done this show many times over the years and it is not the show it used to be for sales.  The economy there is not good and sales are off.  When I last did it three years ago I barely cleared $2K in sales for a show in the old days where I could do $5-8K.  So now they want $500 for a booth which will account for 25%  of my total.  And, this does not include gas, hotel, food and the cost of replenishing goods sold.  Sorry folks this is not a good business plan for any sole proprietor.

I know, show directors are going to say,"Well we gotta pay for security,police, porta-potties so we need that kind of money.  BS.  We are also paying for nice large salaries that these show directors now make.

How do they expect most artists to make a living with these kind of fees and our meager returns on sales.  Most people are off by 50-40% on their grosses over past years because of our economy which is worst we have seen in our lifetimes.

These fees kill the chances of most newcomers to get in our biz.  Too high of cost for too little of return.  Only the well-off and most successful will thrive.  These fees will kill the street shows.

Naples, an already over-saturated market has routine booth fees of nearly $500 and most artists are not gettong a five-fold return on their money.  It is a recipe for failure.

Love to hear some feedback from those 6000 lurkers of you out there.  

I mean doesn't this rankle your feathers a bit.  How can you sit back there blase and think well that is just the way the biz is.  Guess what, we are all on the way to the Poorhouse with no salvation showing on the horizon.  Show fees can not continue to escalate like this in these times.  Nobody wins.

OK now I am off to play golf, with luck I will do better on the links than I did on the streets last weekend.  Come on folks, chime in and stop being lurkers.

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ARE YOU READY for 2012?

In eighteen days, my second son gets married to a wonderful girl. I'm all ready. I'll even post pictures of the event on AFI for fun. So, as Mother-of-the-Groom, I planned the rehersal dinner, helped the kids pay a few extra bills, and made all the wedding jewelry........no sweat!

I've needed a break. LOL

Yesterday I received a Zapp notification for Des Moines.


NO WAY....thought I......deadlines sneak up .......Oh, OH!

OCTOBER 31!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jimmeny Cricketts!!!


I looked up Lakefront Festival of the Arts in Milwaukewe, my hometown. Yikees!


The speedometer on my life went from 25 to 65 in minutes.


So, how prepared are you for the 2012 season?

1) Have all your professional photos taken and ready to upload to zapp, amdur or the moon?

2) Have that booth shot with all three walls showing?

3) Do you even have eight creations you think will "WOW" those jurors in six seconds?

4) Have you found your "market" and know which shows they flock to attend?

5) Do you have the money to pay "X" amount of jury fees?


What are you doing in 2012 that's new, innovative, researched or intuitive about the Art Fair World?

We're all Insiders, so, do share, will you?

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