Ever since starting this theme about craft shows and art festivals, readers have been sharing stories of chronic problems.
The vast majority of issues fall into one or more of four categories:
- buy/sell merchandise
- imported items competing with local artists
- bad, sub standard, low quality displays
- bad management
Each one of these categories deserves further illumination, but I am wondering ....How do these situations persist from show to show without resolution?
The responsibility certainly lies with the craft show/art festival sponsor, but a bit lies also with the artists and makers. I see the situation as somewhat similar to cultivating a garden. In a garden, some weeding and pruning is often required to promote healthy growth. Likewise, our craft show participation needs to carefully cultivate what should be nurtured and what should be weeded out. We are in control of our future, but only if we act accordingly.
Artists/makers can decide to decline participation in shows that do not have clear policies regarding buy/sell, imported merchandise, and minimum display standards.
Examine show policies before applying. Do not apply to a show that does not have minimum standards. Go one step further and write to the show organizer clarifying what you consider the minimum expectation. It may require pruning a show from your list of events for the coming year even if you made money last year.
Do not support poorly managed shows with your money & time.
Same goes for show organizers. This job is not a popularity contest. Clear policies regarding the hot button issues of buy/sell, imports and display are necessary. Just like cultivating a beautiful garden, strong pruning is often required for healthy growth. This includes eliminating sellers that do not meet minimum standards for selling studio-made merchandise in a reasonably attractive display and instituting policies that guarantee acceptance for top quality sellers.
The limitations and clear expectations for show standards from both the artist/makers and the show organizers are important for a healthy future of craft.