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What about those sales figures that shows tout to the press?

I came across this article today and thought you might be interested. It is from the Belleville, IL, paper:

Answer man: Do Art on the Square sales figures add up?

Q. Art on the Square is a wonderful show and very successful. Last year, Belleville reported that the artists sold $1.2 million in merchandise. How exactly is this determined? My calculations show that each artist would have needed to sell $600 an hour every hour. Whew!

-- Rosemarie Edwards, of Swansea

A. You think those figures are being airbrushed a little like a Playboy centerfold? Not so, according to AOTS founder and co-chair Patty Gregory. The totals really are as pretty as the picture of results organizers have painted afterward, she says.

Here's how it works: Each artist is given three audit cards to record his sales. One is given back to the show's directors while the others are sent directly to two major art show magazines that keep track of how well shows do. They all mesh.

"We have been right on target the last several years with reports given to us and also to the magazines, which are finalized in December," she said. "The last three years, Art on the Square has been ranked in the top five in the nation based on sales (rankings are based on total average artist sales). By the way, all names and information are given to the IRS office in Fairview Heights before the show for sales tax reports."

Now she's hoping the economy won't keep Belleville from having another million-dollar baby when the show returns for its eighth go-round May 15-17.
Here's the link:

My question to you think this is legit? How much does that add up to per artist to reach those totals for a two day show?

Views: 74

Comment by Mark Loeb on March 24, 2009 at 4:55pm
The numbers just don't seem possible, do they? I come up with that same $600 per artist, per hour sales figure as the reporter. Now, assuming that half the artists are "only" selling $6,000 in work, that means that the other half need to be selling $18,000, or $900 per hour. The only way this works is if some artists are selling multiple huge ticket items. Possible but questionable...
Basically, even though I am an art fair organizer, I would suggest that artists only trust information that they get from other artists. It is irrelevant how many people show up or what sales figures are reported. What is important is how artists similar to you are doing in the show.
Comment by dale repp on March 24, 2009 at 9:55pm
That show is a pretty high-end one, limiting repros and knockoffs; still, I'm uncertain it's clogged with patrons buying originals at 5 -10K in multiples. As a silversmith, doing $1000/hour at my price point, is a backed up impatient mess.
On the topic of numerical figures reported by the show sponsors/promoters - always knock them down by 50% to 80%. Especially attendance projections/counts. I've done a bunch of shows where the prospectus gave attendance for a FAF at 12,000 and less than 2,000 showed up. The sales and attendance figures given out by promoters are another sales tool to get YOU to apply to the show in hopes of hitting the mother lode - but the real mother lode is the 2000 applications the promoters process to the tune of $25 each and up, which often exceeds the amount they collect for booth rents. Already, this forum has provided ample evidence that highly exclusive chi-chi shows with bloated patronage and sales figures leave more than a few artists making less than the cost of doing the show. Cheers, and Good Luck, DALE


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