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Tuesday, February 10

disturbing trend

When I first started doing art and craft shows about a dozen years ago, it was unusual for the organizers to require advance payment. If they did, I'd shine it on. It irritated me and made me feel not so good about the show.

Why? Well, come along with me and walk a bit in my glue spattered shoes.

First, let me do away with some urban legends. Contrary to what you may hear, most art show artists are not "rolling in it" and we do actually "work". A lot. For many, the business is seasonal and dependent on big things like the economy and the weather as well as small things like booth location. Every year is a crap shoot. There are no guaranteed pay days in this business.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk about my growing irritation with show organizers and the trend toward paying "upon receipt of application" instead of "upon acceptance". Well, actually, the phrasing says it all. They want my money, paid in full, while they consider whether or not I will actually be accepted into their show. This often takes months. Meanwhile, they have hundreds of my dollars, dollars I cannot use for supplies or taxes or other show applications. If I do not get accepted, that money was "spent" on nothing but padding the bank accounts of show promoters. Multiply this by a dozen shows, and now we're into thousands of dollars I have invested in show futures.

I am not a gambling woman.

Now, I could possibly accept this practice if they would simply shorten the time between application and notification. But the wait is usually months. A show I applied to in January will notify me in April. My $200 waits in their bank account until then. What are they doing during that time? I dunno. Enjoying collecting interest on the hard earned money of artists, I'm thinking. Oh sure, if I am denied, they will send me a refund. Gee. Thanks. Now that it's too late to apply for another show, maybe I'll do something frivolous with the money. Like, buy food?

I have tremendous respect and gratitude toward the shows that take your jury fee now, let you know within a reasonable amount of time whether you have been accepted, and then collect payment on a date previously specified. How civilized. How respectful.

You need the money early to finance the show? No prob. Have your jury set to go 2 weeks after the deadline and get the results out to us within a week. How hard can that be? I mean, you know that you will be having a jury, so let them know in November what the date is. If your deadline is, oh, January 10th, Tell them to be there on January 24th. That gives you 2 whole weeks to get your PowerPoint presentation or your slide show ready for them. Have your jury party, choose your artists, insert their names into the "to" part of the letter you have all nicely done up in your computer and send them out. By my calculation, you will then have been sitting on my $200 for just a month and THAT I can tolerate. What you are doing between January and April, now that confuses me.

Well, that's my rant for the season. I've ranted about this before. It just gets worse. I got out the application for a late Summer show this morning and saw that they , also, now want my money in advance.

I'm just glad the suppliers I use aren't asking me to deposit a thousand bucks with them just in case I decide to buy stuff. That could get scary. But that wouldn't happen. Because, you see, in the real world, when something has a price, and you pay it, you get something back. Period. They don't say they'll get back to you, let you know if you can actually have the item you paid for. That would be silly. That would be nuts. That would be outrageous!

That would be show fees.


Anonymous said...


That's a good rant and if you said it before it was worth stateing again. As you know Betty and I are relatively new to doing shows so we didn't know that there was a change in how the show takes fees. We just thought they always did it the way they do it now.
We have several thousand dollars up in the air as I write this. It is hard to set aside that kind of money.
They only thing I would differ with you on is the conception that artist are "rolling in it". Any I've known (or lived with) have been in as bad fiscal shape as me, or possibly worse..

Michael said...

I'm wondering if they are using your ability to front the fees as an additional criteria...

Possibly as a result of choosing artists who subsequently could not come uup wth the fees, creating a mad ruch to back fill.

Just wondering out loud.