Art Fair Insiders

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

For a long time I lived in the Detroit area and as an artist's partner we were always looking at the land just across the water in Canada. Lots of people live on the other side of the Detroit River. But the complications of taking work for sale across the border were myriad. The customs people on either side could foil any attempt to enter into Canada or even to get back into the U.S. with a van full of art. But lo and behold a government official, Eve Lerman, who works for the US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration in a special agency called the "US Commercial Service" is working to change the rules. In her words:
Our job is to promote exports of US goods and services to overseas markets - this includes Canada and countries around the world. For the last 9 years I worked out of my office in the Pontiac, Michigan US Export Assistance Center to promote exports of automotive and manufacturing products. I spent 3 years as the Team Leader of the Automotive Team in our agency. In 2009 I felt the time was ripe to do our part to help diversify Michigan's economy. I took note, as well, of an initiative out of our headquarters in Washington DC, to focus some of our efforts on assisting business people who have never exported before. I decided to devote a portion of my time to working with artists and craftspeople in Michigan. The ArtServe organization in Michigan has generously allowed me, and some of my colleagues, to speak for a few minutes about this project at a series of outreach events they held around the state. I also made a separate trip to Marquette and Calumet in the Upper Peninsula to speak to artists about this effort. Several months ago when I started researching art fairs in Canada, I came across the "Art In The Park Windsor" website - The venue is beautiful (15-acre garden surrounding a historic manor), it is a 2-day juried show, and it is easier for Michigan artists to access than shows in Toronto and more distant parts of Canada. When I contacted the show organizer, the Rotary Club of Windsor, I was delighted to learn that this year, for the 1st time in 31 years, they had decided to open the show to artists from the US. We've been working on a collaborative basis to get the word out to Michigan artists. We've also been working with US & Canadian Customs officials, to simplify the procedure for crossing the border as much as possible. I am currently drafting instructions to share with artists interested in the show for this year or 2010. If you have additional questions I will be happy to try and answer them! Best regards, Eve Lerman, International Trade Specialist, US Department of Commerce, US Export Assistance Center, Pontiac, Michigan… Visit this link to see what she has set up: Join us Sunday, June 7 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM to assess the venue, learn about taking art across the border, and decide whether exhibiting could help grow your sales in 2010. Well, I'm impressed. Thank you so much to the Department of Commerce for opening some trade doors to artists! Any of you who live in the region around the eastern Great Lakes and tries to travel through to Canada to Michigan will also welcome this.

Views: 64

Comment by Connie Mettler on May 26, 2009 at 7:07pm
My friend Donna Beaubien asked me to add her comment here:

Read with much interest about Windsor. The director that is contacting you and other sources is incorrect about US artists not allowed in the Windsor show. I did the Windsor show from 1984 - 1995. Plus I did others in that time period, Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, Bracebridge, London and Barry. I did all of them more than once, but it was Windsor that I did every year. I was not the only US artist that did the shows in that period. I knew of 2 others. I also traveled through Canada from Windsor to Buffalo, New York to do Allentown.

While getting into Canada was initially somewhat difficult, but with a little research and tenacity it became a piece of cake and should be even easier this time for the artists.

One thing that the artists must know is that, when a client pays with a check or cash, they will be paying in Canadian funds, but if they are paying with a charge they will be paying in US funds. I learned this the hard way. It does not matter where the artist is, what matters, is where the artist's bank is located. If the artist's bank is located in the US, the client will pay in US funds, if the artist's bank is in Spain, the client will pay in Spanish funds. It doesn't matter where the artist's show is located.

Another thing the artists need to know is that in Canada, they have GST. Goods and Service Tax plus sales tax, and the artist will have to collect both and pay before they leave the show. At least that was the way it was back when I did the shows in Canada. There were some guidelines in regard to GST, and don't know what they are now.

She would be glad to answer questions. Contact her:


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