Festival Network Online Newsletter
June - 2003
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A note from the editor.....It's that time of year again - we're doing shows back to back, in the heat, the rain, the wind. Traveling all over the place, loading, unloading - sales are up, they're down, one weekend blends into another and I think all of us at some point during the year ask ourselves, "WHY? am I doing this?" Here's an article that will answer that question for you, give you a lift and keep you focused.
As always, keep on, keeping on. Diane
Art Festival Musings
By Sue Clancy
Yesterday I volunteered at the annual Festival of the Arts in Oklahoma City. I wanted to see the show from the inside out, how much money was made, type of working environment, etc. I've thought about exhibiting my art there so I volunteered to work in the sales booth in order to conduct my "inside" investigation.
Boy oh boy was the money flying!!! The sculpture section of the Festival (total Festival covered about 4 city blocks) made $29,000. in sales within about 4 hours!!! I handled more than a few personal checks for $1000. or more! Ever made change for a $500. travelers check before??? I have now! ($2.09 was the change due - HA! wow!)
So, I concluded that there were many artists making their booth fee back probably making a profit. Sort of paying themselves back for the materials and time involved. Sounds good, or so I thought!
At one point I took a lunch break and talked to several of my fellow artist friends who were exhibiting in booths at the Arts Festival.
I heard the tales of the long hours sitting in the sun -12 PLUS hours! They could hardly get time to use the restroom or get a coke. Lunch?? You gotta be kidding - who's got time to eat?? Not only that but they were packed like sardines in football-stadium size crowds for that entire length of time. Patiently (for the most part) they fielded all types of questions from all sorts of people, all day long. I heard the horror stories of little children falling against the artwork and ruining it, and I heard about the rude comments from visitors.
My vision of dollar signs was slowly fading. This was some HARD work to exhibit at an Arts Festival for 6 days straight! So that $1000. for a work of art began to sound like pocket change when I considered the time and materials that went into making the artwork. Then I considered the time and expense of framing it. The time and cost of creating slides and applying to the show, not to mention the booth fee. Then setting up the exhibit for the festival, sitting there for 12 hours a day - 6 days in a row. Not to mention the 35% commission the festival takes out of the money each artist does make. That $1000. is now about $.05 cents an hour and a VERY slim profit margin. AND, that is only IF you sell the work - talk about entrepreneurial risk-taking!!!
Thus reeducated and lunch consumed I returned to my post at the sales booth more than a bit deflated. (let's say downright depressed)
Many more $1000. (plus) checks and credit-cards came and went in a blur. $100. bills were dropped at the sales booth like leaves in the Fall. Then the rain of buyers slowed. The sales booth took a collective sigh. Various members of our booth left to get cokes and munchies. I manned the counter mostly alone.
About that time one middle-aged lady came to the counter clutching her sales ticket like fine jewels. She was grinning from ear to ear. Laying the ticket down for me to tally she sighed with a totally blissful look on her face. I glanced up from adding tax to the total of $675. "Did you find something nice?" I asked. The lady brightened even more - if that is possible. "Oh, I found the most wonderful painting!!! It is so perfect!! Oh I just can't believe it!!!" She gushed. "It's a painting of a house that reminds me of my grandfathers house when I was a child!" I could see the happy memories dance across her face.
"That is just wonderful," I said. She flashed me a smile. I totaled her purchase. The lady wrote her check hardly noticing the amount. I got the distinct feeling that she would have paid any price for that painting. She took her purchase claim and fairly skipped to pick up the painting.
I thought to myself. Wow, to give someone that much pleasure is definitely worth the 'work' of being a professional artist. There really is more to life than just money!! Money is important, and artists deserve every penny they get, and should get more. However, in the concern of 'paying the bills' sometimes I forget the artistic ideals that made me pursue being a professional artist in the first place.
"The function of the artist, is to provide what life does not." - Tom Robbins.
Article provided by:
Sue Clancy, a full time artist. Her business is called This Artist Studio, http://home.telepath.com/~artist.She, and an associate, make one of a kind handmade books, zines, artist books and handmade papers. They also do cartoons (published in the Oklahoma Gazette and other publications) and other funny pictures, illustrations and paintings. Some of their books are sold via Art-o-Mat, http://www.artomat.org, which sells art, dispensed via old cigarette machines! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Elliott Bruckner
Diane@festivalnet.com - dianebruckner.com
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