Fairs, Festivals and Shows Peer Session Notes Minimize

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April 2009 CODA Conference

Fairs, Festivals, Shows Peer Session
1.      How to bring in new artists:
-          Involve college “art” students
·         Have art design students help design displays
·         Feature/exhibit work by up and coming college and high school students
-          Zapplication and on-line jurying websites
-          Mentor program – referral programs
2.      How to bring in new customers:
-          Use www.constant contact.com and creating a template to allow exhibitors to fill in their info and photos to their customer base
-          Develop and use an on-line and/or printed catalogue gallery featuring artist and promoting artists before customers come
·         Helps those who aren’t able to make it to shows
-          Use artists to promote the show
-          Use facebook and other online social networks
3.      Create an ID for your show to stay competitive
-          Focus on grass roots project collaboration
-          Creating “a living space” displaying art in a “baby’s room” or “garden setting” 
In attendance: Liz Beauregard, Craig Kittner, Robert Mitchum. Bill Ronay, Kerry Schneider, Viki Henricksen, Michelle Sholund and Nancy O’Meara
Moderator: Nancy O’Meara
Notes by: Michelle Sholund

CODA Conference 2008
Peer Group:  Fairs, Festivals & Show 

Present were:
Cheryl Hartley (photo), Tamarack: The best of West Virginia; Sherrie Boyer, Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen; Victoria Faoro, Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea; Bernard Burton; Nova Scotia; Catherine LeClair, American Craft Council; Mary Lou Galloway, Illinois Artisan’s Program; Michelle Sholund, Crafts Report Magazine and Maryland Four Seasons Shows; Becki Dahlstedt, Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour; Nancy O’Meara, Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show; and Steve Schmidt, Eureka Springs Artists.
Round of Introductions, comments from participants:
Sherrie Boyer:  Cut from 6 shows to 3 shows – last year one show was basically a new show, new location in Wilmington DE, and had great attendance.  The other 2 are being relocated this year.
Victoria Faoro:  Have 650 KY artists, need an annual event, Berea has some existing shows.
Steve Schmidt: Artist Registry of NW Arkansas shows, exhibits and events raise awareness of arts in "big bucks" environment of NW Arkansas. (Rogers area is one of the fastest growing regions of country)
Bernard Burton: Atlantic Craft Trade Show has a summer show and a Christmas show.  Last year (for the first time in 32 years) they had NO summer show because of lack of interest on the part of craftspeople – they have other venues such as on line sales, etc.  The Christmas show is doing extremely well. 
Catherine LeClair, ACC has six national shows, retail and wholesale, throughout country. They have been in Baltimore for over 30 years.  Overall decrease in attendance, but exhibitor sales are increasing (echoed by other participants) – overall attendance 60,000 to 65,000 per year.  ACC is considering a wholesale show in San Francisco – show was stopped 2 years ago, but may be started up again to try different geographical location.
Nancy O’Meara: Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is in its 32nd year with attendance of 24,000.  They get 1400 applicants for 195 spots.  They are looking for new artists and new collectors. 
Mary Lou Galloway: Southern Illinois Art & Artisans Center began a partnership with area wineries nine years ago to produce a collaborative wine and art show which is held in one location.  They get a special permit license for this weekend (each participating winery must have it's own license to sell.)  A $10.00 armband is sold which gives visitor free tasting all day.  Artists pay $60.00 booth fee.  They collect $48,000 in arm band sales, wineries pay nothing, but provide the wine.  Food vendors pay a percentage of sales.  Live music also helps shop sales. Event costs around $30,000 (incl. $20,000 advertising costs).  Advertise it as a day trip from St. Louis, Paducah, Cape Girardeau, Evansville.  They also have support of Franklin County Tourism Council.
Michelle Sholund: She is a free lance reporter for Crafts Report (recent article "Walk in a Promoter's Shoes") and promotes Four Seasons fine arts shows.  They provide incentives for artists to do shows, including $25.00 for referring another artist, discounts for multiple shows, and “best of show” and “best booth” awards, (which have cash awards, plus free booth for next show.)
Becki Dahlstedt:  Potter and member of Arkansas Craft Guild. Becki developed the Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour and a new spring show, Artisans Market on the Square, to revive arts and crafts in the 46th year of the Arkansas Folk Festival.  The Guild Christmas Showcase in Little Rock during the first weekend in December had LOW attendance last year. They are working on how to increase attendance.   Off the Beaten Path Studio tour will have 7th year this September.  Very successful!  It provides first- hand experience between artist and visitor.
Cheryl Hartley:  Tamarack has operated for 12 years as a center with retail craft sales of $3.8 million annually.  Within Tamarack are five studios with demonstrating artists, a restaurant, a conference center, a theater and a fine art gallery.  The Tamarack Foundation provides programs for artist development.
Several years ago Tamarack did away with craft fairs to try something different. They tried a Renaissance-themed festival and craft show which was great for community involvement, but actually hurt the center’s craft sales. After four years the show was abandoned, despite its popularity. Tamarack currently has no show.
Discussion points:  Moving from print advertising to 100% e-mail marketing.
Despite costs of postage, total reliance on email is problematic because of SPAM and frequently changing e-mail addresses.  To maximize postcards and postage it is important to build a good tracking system into your database such as utilizing a year field so that names can be dropped out after non-attendance for a specified period of time.  Survey of attendees can provide useful information to aid advertising decisions.  One suggestion was:  anything you bring in with name of Show or event on it gets you $1.00 off admission – this information is disseminated online and in press releases. Also, utilize web site for registration. 
Anecdotal: Eureka Springs started with small Thanksgiving show in Eureka Springs, and then last year started new regional shows in Rogers and Benton.  They sought out corporate sponsors for $1,500 to $5,000.  They seek applicants from multiple states and use Zapplication to attract new artists.  To reduce production costs, they placed the show in a high end mall in an outdoor area.  The mall helps attract affluent shoppers.  Attendance is free.  This year the show will be a 3-day show. They started a magazine to help build the show and to make arts more accessible through the magazine.  The magazine is supported by media sponsors and will premier in May.  Eureka springs will give the magazine away free to a targeted audience at area galleries, restaurants, etc. (planned distribution of 50,000). The show in September is in the Pinnacle Hills Promenade.
Discussion point:  Use of magazine to support an annual event.
A magazine can provide articles all year long, keep collectors informed and involved, and can produce a special show edition (or show program). It can be included as benefit of membership at a cost, or be totally ad supported and given away free.  Examples in addition to Eureka Springs – the Santa Fe Indian Market had a magazine which was benefit of paid membership; a national quilt organization has a quarterly magazine.    
Discussion point:  Attracting new artists.
Use Zapplication to reach potential new artists, which also standardizes the jury process for event coordinators. (NOTE:  This costs $500 to $1000 to set up the process and they take application fees to cover this initial cost, then a percentage of application fees.) Another benefit is that jurors can log onto the site to jury applicants and can work from their home location which is a saving of money and time. 
Look at www.homegrownmarket.com as a suggested website for new artists. Check out DIY shows around the country for emerging artists.
American Crafts Council has started a program to identify and foster emerging artists by having leaders in a media field nominate emerging artists.  ACC underwrites their costs at the show.  They also provide undergraduate and graduate studios space at the show with no fees.  Craft Boston has a similar program.
Last year ACC created a group area at a much cheaper cost for Alt/Indie craft creators (DIY) and they were subject to different jury terms.  This created somewhat of a conflict with the more established artists, but diversity strengthens and broadens the appeal of the show overall.
Last year the Philadelphia Art Museum show had an emerging artist category for artists working less than 6 years.  They provided a half booth for one-half the booth cost.
Discussion pointHow to retain buyers, keep them coming back.
Provide incentives.
Keep them involved and in touch through email or a magazine.
Add a charitable component to the show, or add a "taste of…"
Demonstrations engage public in the show.
Examine location of show – could better location create better attendance.
Convenience – parking, gift wrapping, shopping bags, etc.
Recognize their importance – call them "Collectors."
Have a special "collectors" gallery, set up a collectors committee to advise the show, event or gallery.
Have tours of the show led by style experts talking about how handmade work enhances your home and your life.
Establish young collectors groups to educate younger audience.
Get kids involved in hands-on activities that produce something to take away.
Have a special opening night event – invitation only – reception.
Have a sneak preview of award winning art work.
Raise funds for charity with this special event – Eureka Springs is having a $75.00 a ticket soiree to benefit Habitat for Humanity (in a side discussion we talked about partnering with Habitat for Humanity to build a green handcrafted artful house.)
Canadian fund raiser idea:  "Reverse Auction"
105 artists donate $50.00 value artwork.  No more than 100 tickets are sold at $100.00 each.  At the fundraising event, each person who has a ticket is given a number, and all the art work is on display for folks to look over and mark the accompanying list with their favorite items.  Of course there is live music, wine and cheese, etc. for the festive evening.  When the music stops and the "auction" begins, numbers are called one at a time. When your number is called you have two minutes (?) to go onstage where the art is exhibited, make your choice, and get off the stage before the next number is called.  This can be done in multiple segments with a break in between so folks can look around the remaining items and update their list of favorites.  Throughout the evening, raffle tickets are sold for $1.00 or $2.00 each right up to the end of the numbered event.   The remaining five art items are then raffled off. 
Summary:  Top five ideas
Partnerships!  Example:  combine wine and art for event to increase attendance, cross promotion, attract more educated/sophisticated buying market.
Magazine for annual event supported by ad sales/sponsorships is self-promoting, aids with buyer retention, and showcases sponsors.
Preview reception or charity event – recognizes and targets collectors, provides education, publicizes event. 
Help create "collectors" by calling them collectors instead of "buyers" – it makes them feel special keeps them involved and coming back, may become "patrons" and benefit the broader arts community.
Give collectors an authentic experience – make the connection between the collector and the artist, creating intimacy, authenticity, and personal relationships.  (example: take photos of  collector and their purchase to display on web site or at show.)

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