The Refund Policy Showdown

December 2014

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Offering refunds on shows can be a touchy subject among promoters. This month's article will discuss the ins and outs of show refunds.

Happy promoting!
FNO Newsletter Editor

The Refund Policy Showdown

by Carrie Groves for The Crafts Report

Promoting events Refund policies. The very words are enough to instigate eye-rolling, heavy sighing and, occasionally, verbal boxing matches. In one corner stands the artist. He's over-applied to shows, and has laid out a huge amount of "due-on-application" money. Once he gets his acceptances back, he's going to lose hundreds of dollars in non-refundable booth fees for some of the shows he won't be able to do. But, without over-applying, he won't have enough shows. He wants his money back when he has to turn down acceptances in some of the fairs.

In the other corner stands the promoter. He's invested time and money finding the show location, printing his applications and mailing them, assembling the jury, and sending out acceptances. Once an artist fills a booth space, the promoter doesn't want that spot to be empty. And, he wants his time and labor costs covered.

Can there ever be a winner in this sparring match? Or can we at least come to some sort of acceptable compromise?

We posed this issue on the online forum for the National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA), an artist-run organization that focuses on issues regarding art and craft shows, asking artists and promoters to comment. Artists voiced various opinions, but everyone agreed that some sort of refund was appropriate and right. Only two show promoters responded, and both were committed to being "artist-friendly." No one came forth to justify -- or explain -- the practice of non-refundable booth fees.

In fact, a number of show promoters have made a concerted effort to honor their half of the monetary equation. For example, Carla Fox, a Portland, Ore., metalsmith, is the director of the 32-year-old show of the Lake Oswego Arts and Crafts Guild, and a management partner in two other shows; she says, "Never have any of these three shows asked for booth fees up front. It would be a bookkeeping nightmare to hold and sort, and return fees. There are always good and valid reasons for artists to not do a show after they've been accepted. If we can fill the spot, we always try to give the artist a reasonable refund of his booth fee."

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