Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Spent the previous weekend in lovely Prescott, AZ (pronounced Press-kit) at the 35th Annual Arts Guild show. The show is located on the lawns around the courthouse in the center of town. People know that it is an annual event and being the first show of the summer season it seems there isn't art show fatique. But that isn't the reason for writing this post. As if there aren't enough shows in AZ these days for promoters to promote it seems that there was another promoter promoting a show adjacent to this one! I mean kitty corner from this show! I've seen this other promoters shows when I've done shows in Carefree, AZ and they were down the road a bit but this is ridiculous! When I was participating in the Sonoran Arts League Show in March there were two other shows taking place no more than a mile away from each other!
The larger issue here, and we've probably all acknowledged it at one time or another, is the proliferation of shows that are taking place! Paragon is on the move, Amy Amdur has a show in just about every corner of the Chicagoland area on any given weekend, Howard Alan must own Florida by now and has had a presence in the Colorado high country for a number of years as-well-as trying to make in-roads at Lake Tahoe and Park City for a couple of years. I did his Park City incarnation one year as I wasn't invited to the Kimball show that year, it was behind a shopping center, I mean REALLY BEHIND, apparently it wasn't a good gamble as I don't see it on his calendar anymore. Now the same people that bring you the Rio Grande shows in Albuquerque are making a play for another show in the Denver area, lets see, that makes at least 6 shows in the same market! Jim Delutes did such a good job of resurrecting the Downtown Denver show at the Pavilions that they decided to kick him out and do their own show on the very same weekend (ArtStir) and just a few blocks away!
Now I read a blog about how all these shows are diluting the market for fine art (craft) and we all want to vilify promoters for their shameful gluttony but, artists share responsibility for this land grab as-well-as the promoters they want to string up. Truth be told, if artists weren't so willing to run to the latest and (presumably) greatest show on earth there would be less shows and less dilution of the bottom line.
As I think about this issue I recall the Ken Burns PBS production on the Dust Bowl. In addition to changing their tilling style so that they were tilling the soil less deep, farmers were also planting many more acres. Then, when the price of their crops went too low to make a decent living wage their answer was to plant more acres! Guess they never heard of supply and demand. In the end when the rains dried up with an extended drought and tilling the soil went on unabated the land gave out and blew away. In fact there are still areas of South East Colorado that have not recovered from the ravages of the dust bowl era. Seems to me there is a lesson in this. Those that ignore their history are doomed to repeat it, no matter what business their in. So who's responsible for the bottom line becoming smaller? Probably all of us, promoters and artists alike. I let you draw your own conclusions as to how to answer this dilemma for yourself. But it seems to me that not applying for these newcomers in an already diluted market might make the most sense. Or, as has been suggested, if a show does not support you, don't support it. I was wait listed for the Downtown Denver show this year and I didn't plan on applying to ArtStir, the next startup in an already diluted market, instead I'm attending a small show in New Mexico in a market without any other shows. But that, as they say, is another story.