Art Fair Insiders

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Podcast: What Really Happened in Houston at Bayou City

May 22, 5 pm ET: Listen live and call in at 805-243-1338

As the new interim executive director took on the reins at the Bayou City Art Festival in Houston late last year, it became apparent to Susan Fowler that the organization was stretched beyond financial viability. This is a festival that depends on an admission charge that had been negatively impacted by the weather.

Four festivals back to back with rain had drained their savings  that were in fact a literal rainy day fund because the Bayou City Art Festivals are outdoor events.

The Art Colony Association, which hosts the Bayou City shows, needed to do something fast to keep the popular festivals alive and well.

When the Board of the Art Colony met in January they put the wheels in motion to expand the event from 300 artists to 450 artists plus several other changes that they hoped would lead to financial stability.

We'll be speaking with the Executive Director Susan Fowler and Kelly Kindred, Director of Operations to learn

    •    how a board of directors oversees an organization and its' fiscal responsibility
    •    how the decision to increase the size of the show was made
    •    how successful were the changes that they made to the Spring show
    •    what they learned from this experience
    •    what to expect next from this festival

and lots more.

Listen live at 5 pm ET. Call in with your questions: 805-243-1338. Email me with questions and comments. Leave questions for me to ask them in the comments below.

This podcast is sponsored by our 5th Annual Birthday Pledge Drive to support our art fair websites. Learn more:

Views: 2529

Comment by Larry Berman on May 21, 2014 at 5:12pm

Not sure if this has been brought up. Doesn't every show have their attorney go over the contract they present to artists, advertisers, and sponsors, etc. Or do shows copy contracts from other shows, figuring the other show had their attorney go over it. I'm asking because artists have to agree to something in order to start an application on ZAPP. Do shows have to agree to anything before they can list an application on ZAPP or do they just have to send in their money to play.

Getting back to the contract artists have to agree to. Did Bayou City ask their attorney if they can change it after it was signed (approved) and money sent in by artists?

Larry Berman

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on May 21, 2014 at 5:32pm

Larry they refund the booth fee to people that refuse to be part of the show after they increase the amount of artists so that may be the loophole.

Comment by Larry Berman on May 21, 2014 at 5:38pm
But that doesn't change the fact that they broke their own contract. There are no loopholes unless the contract said that they could increase the show at their own discretion. The problem is that we're not taken seriously, we're just artists.

Larry Berman
Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on May 21, 2014 at 5:47pm

I agree with you Larry and that is why I am scare because they got away with it. It also create a presentment for other shows. The whole thing not matter how you think about is not about this show is about the entire art fair field. 

Comment by Ginny Herzog on May 21, 2014 at 6:08pm

Questions for the Exec. Director -

1. How many exhibitors do they plan to have for the fall show? This important information is missing from their Zapplication.

2. If there will be an increase, like to 450, as once stated in their Zapplication, what is their plan for the layout? Sam Houston Park, which was the location for 44 artists, was a sea of mud and cockroaches for the past few years. And those artists paid the same as others on the street. Will they eliminate Sam Houston Park as part of the show site? If so, where will they put those artists and the extra 150 in the downtown? Their Zapplication has a link to see the map layout of last year's show, but the link does NOT lead to a map. So there is no way to know in advance how many artists or where the show is sited before applying. 

3. Will they have an artist advisory commitee to assist them with making good decisions for the fall show and to prevent the problems that plagued the spring show? There is so much mistrust after that fiasco that having artists on the committe would be huge in rebuilding the trust.

4. If the rumors hadn't led to a mass if emails and phone calls to their offices about the increase in the number of exhibitors for the spring show, just when did they intend to tell the artists about the huge departure from the prospectus?

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 22, 2014 at 10:08am

Great points, Ginny. I appreciate this input. Thank you.

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on May 22, 2014 at 6:23pm

Very Good Podcast Connie. I just got mix feeling and hope it work out for everybody.

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 22, 2014 at 6:36pm

Thanks, Oscar. It was interesting. They were not defensive, which says to me, that they really were doing their best to move their organization and the show to be better. Let's all hope so. It also sounded like they were pretty severely understaffed and there are only so many hours in the day. I'm going to be a believer.

Thanks for the pledge!

Comment by Barry Bernstein on May 22, 2014 at 8:39pm

Of course, the real problem was not discussed because you are all clueless. So, I will point a couple of those problems out to you:

1) They went on and on about how great the economy is in Houston, especially the oil and gas industry. And, yet, they couldn't or didn't go to any of these great companies to get their sponsorships to underwrite the show. Either they weren't willing to do the real work or no corporation is willing to do this. I suspect they didn't do the really hard work. As an example of someone who does go to the corporations we only have to look to John Witz from Arts, Beats, and Eats, who does get sponsors. I think Connie can verify that.

2) Houston has 5 million people and they cannot get more than 30,000 people to show up and 7,000 if it rains. Marquette gets 7,000 people whether it rains or the weather is great and we have 20,000 people. Either the people who run Bayou City are either A) incompetent B) do not support or want to go to an art fair or C) $15 is way too much to charge and $40 to park is way too much and nobody will pay that. I'm betting on A and C.

These two talked about all the work that the "executive director" was doing so they split up the jobs. In the real world, a CEO or Executive Director does 20 times the amount of work.

I  can't go on. I will break a blood vessel in my head.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on May 22, 2014 at 8:45pm

Btw, Arts, Beats, and Eats has no trouble getting sponsors in an area well known for it's declining economy. I have a friend who sold Yellow Pages advertising for many years. The sales staff would have the economic data in their hands to explain to all the business why advertising with them was good for their company. That's what it takes, having the information, that is readily available if they look for it and selling it to the right people. Whether it is hard or a lot of work is irrelevant. It should be a major part of the job description.


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