Art Fair Insiders

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

Next Podcast: Show Organizers & Coronavirus


How are you feeling? I am totally enervated and concerned about the future of art festivals, not only in the short term but in the long run. I'm hearing from artists and reading comments on about "what next?" and I have to take some action. This exhaustion leads down a dire path. My answer: let's talk.

On this podcast art show directors will come together to discuss cancellations, refunds, rescheduling and the disruption to our business and what they are doing to keep their events and artists income alive for another day.

The first responders to our call for a panel, and who will be joining us:

Karen Delhey, Executive Director, The Guild of Artists & Artisans (Ann Arbor); Anne Curran, Executive Director, Armonk Outdoor Art Show (Armonk, NY); Jean Hungiville, President/CEO, Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce (FL); Amy Amdur, CEO and President Amdur Productions (Chicago area) and Mark Loeb of Integrity Shows (metro Detroit). 

The jumping off point from my inbox:

"I live in Massachusetts and do shows throughout the northeast, from Vermont to South Jersey, NY and the coast line of NJ, Ct, RI, NY etc. shows are start to cancel. Some are right on target with refunding the booth fees, some wasn't to reschedule (& we all know that's the kiss of death to shows) and some, are unscrupulously not refunding any money. I would love to hear from those promoters who are choosing to refund, reschedule, & run as to their thoughts."

We would love to have other show directors call in with their comments on the topic. Here's the #: (805) 243-1338.

(As always this will be recorded live and will also be downloadable forever from


Click here to listen:

Please put your questions in the comments below. There is SO much to discuss and we'll try to hit the most important issues. Let's help each other to a brighter day. 

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Comment by Connie Mettler on March 24, 2020 at 5:44pm

Oh, Barry, I didn't mean to say you had done all of those shows. There are reasons we do the shows we do and reasons why we don't. Although over the years we did many of the same shows, you, Norm and I, we all always had our own favorites too. (Nostalgically thinking about the Riviera Court in Coral Gables now.)

The people I talked with yesterday really did amaze me with their positivity and they were a good cross section of the kind of events that are out there for artists to participate in. Small show organizer to big time promoter, yet they were all on the same page. 

Comment by Barry Bernstein on March 24, 2020 at 4:42pm

A couple of things: You picked 4 directors who were out front early about giving back refunds in case of cancellation. Sadly, that is not the case with every show. I never said or even intimated that most directors did not have the artists best interest. Actually, it's quite gratifying that most directors are doing all they can. Patty Gregory from the Belleville Art on the Square is even giving their artists an extra $50 over the booth fee. Contrast that with a post about the Elmhurst Art in Wilder Park only giving back 50% of the booth fee.

My comment about increasing booth fees is a direct response to Geoff Coe's comment. Notice he didn't give an example of a show doing that. What happened after 2008 is still fresh in my mind. That was the year that shows dealt with the recession and housing crash by raising booth fees. That was incredibly insensitive to the needs of artists whose sales were cut drastically. It was a double whammy. It's important to get out in front of this. In 2008 everyone sat on their hands and accepted whatever the shows threw at us. I don't want to see a repeat of that.

Connie, you do have something incorrect in your post. These show directors do not represent a majority of shows I have done. In fact, I've hardly done any of their shows. I haven't done an Amdur show since Port Clinton was her only show. I've done one Mark Loeb show and not any Tarpon Springs or Armonk show. I've only done the AA Guild show for 3 years and only Birmingham twice since the Guild took it over. Oh, and I did the one holiday show in Ypsilanti and the first holiday Royal Oak show. I have a good relationship with Mark. He puts on some good shows and I wouldn't hesitate to do more. When Karen announced the refund policy, I sent her a very nice email applauding her for the Guild's actions. In fact, I promote the AA Guild show whenever I can because I want us to get the reputation of having the best art work in Ann Arbor. There is an opportunity to make this happen.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 24, 2020 at 11:44am

... just in case you haven't listened yet, let me assure you, you will feel better afterward. 

another note in my mailbox: 

Thank you very much for putting out the podcast.
Somehow, it made me feel a little better knowing that many promoters were actually good people, caring for the artists participating in their shows.
People who do "the right thing" are precious. We need them more than ever in these troubled times.
Stay safe.
Robin K. Burnes
Comment by Mark Zirinsky on March 23, 2020 at 7:23pm

Connie, thank you for organizing the podcast, and thank you to the show directors who took time from their busy schedules. I get the unanimous feeling that a) all are worried about artists; b) understand that there is only a small group of top artists at the top shows; c) they are going to do everything they can to make sure the show goes on; and d) they get it that artists need to make some money to support themselves.

And yes, Connie, only 24 artists - it is really competitive

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 23, 2020 at 7:09pm

I hope you listened to this one, Barry. Their statements fly in the face of acting against the best interests of the artists. They were unified in not raising booth fees, being transparent about date change and reasons and were all returning booth fees without a question. These show directors represent the majority of the events you and I have participated in over the years. They are NOT out to take advantage. There was nothing but total respect for supporting artists through the upcoming seasons. Please listen. 

If perhaps one might think these events are the exception in our business, then we've been in two different businesses in these last 30-40 years. At the very least, I'd hope all show directors would listen to the podcast to be supported in doing the right thing.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on March 23, 2020 at 7:08pm

This is for Sarah. It doesn't matter whether you have done shows for one year or forty years. You have every right to express your opinions and to stand up for your needs as an artist. Not only is blacklisting illegal, it doesn't exist. Plus, there are hundreds of events. Pick another one. The choices are many except for the best ones. Show me a show that blacklists and I'll show you a show that nobody does anymore.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on March 23, 2020 at 7:02pm

I don't know who's going to raise booth fees for next year, but, I find that to be a horrendous slap in the face to art fair artists who are suffering financially as much as anyone. If anything all shows next year should be free or cut in half to make up for the lack of business. Any show that puts next years burden on artists should be put out of business. This reminds me of 2008 when the art fair directors responded to the housing crisis and lack of sales by doubling the booth fees. Either they are with us or against us. Booth fees are already too high in my opinion.

Based on what I just said, anyone who is afraid to act because they think they may get blacklisted should go work at a Dollar Store. We need people who aren't wimps and are willing to protect themselves and other artists by standing up for their rights. And, don't go crying because I said this. Grow a thick skin and do the right thing.

A podcast that would be useful for artists would be one where artists are explaining what we need and want from art shows and their directors.

Comment by Marti Johnson on March 23, 2020 at 5:46pm

Thank you much Connie for the podcast and all you do

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 23, 2020 at 5:43pm

That is good to hear about the efficiency at Scottsdale. Thanks for good news. 

Yes, artists find floods, high winds and freak micro bursts more more frightening than an epidemic. I'm thinking on the ark 2 x 12 media?? Only 24 artists. 

Hope you listened to the podcast. I was very impressed with the unanimity of support for the artists. 

I was also impressed, even though I kept coming back to it, the unanimity from the group for taking the financial hit and carrying on. It hardly seemed a consideration.

Comment by Sarah Lydecker on March 23, 2020 at 1:24pm

What do you recommend for the emerging artists who are just starting out?

Last year, I did my first couple shows and just barely made my booth fees back. I'm worried because my biggest patrons are of a demographic which will likely be advised to stay indoors and socially distant for the next four to eight months. The populations most at risk from Covid and often our biggest patrons. I don't know if it would be a better career move for me to decline invitations to summer shows I've already been accepted for or if that would get me "blacklisted" from the event in 2021.

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