Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Future of Craft Shows -- Is There One?

(Photograph from the Mattoon Festival in Springfield, MA 2010. One of the best shows we do each year.)

In the past year we have been to at least two "craft" shows that billed themselves as juried shows. We submitted the requisite details of our process of creating our jewelry and photos of our studio. We were happy to be selected and when we arrived at the shows and finished our laborious set-up, we decided to take a stroll around and meet the other artists. Sharing with other artists is so much a part of the creative process. Makes the creative juices run.

Imagine our shock to find booths full of buy/sell merchandise. At a juried "arts & craft" show? How does this happen? Are there not enough artists to fill the booths? I find that hard to imagine. It is less difficult for me to imagine that some artists have decided that craft shows are too much work for the benefit. Maybe so, but there are so many jewelry artists clambering for spots in shows that for as many that do not want to sign up, there are ten to take their place. Are the vendors playing bait and switch with the show organizers? Could be but then why aren't they being asked to leave as soon as their merchandise is seen? I don't have answers to these questions. Maybe some of you do, and if so I'd love to hear your take on this. I know one thing - when true aficionados of actual hand crafted items show up and see lots of buy/sell merchandise, they leave. And they tell their friends. What's that old saying about restaurants? If you have a great experience you tell one person but if you have a lousy experience you tell ten. Craft show organizers need to take note, and see that in the end they are harming themselves (and their fundraising efforts if applicable) as well as the artists that they purport to support. Terry

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