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Festival Network Online Newsletter
                April - 2003

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A note from the editor.....
        Frequently I'm asked, "How should I choose a show?" - There are so many different variables that it's really a difficult question to answer. I always seem to begin with, "Well, it depends......"  and then I have to ask quite a few questions before I feel I can offer any advice.
       I've been a full-time festival artist for nearly fifteen years now, and it's still a challenge to choose a show.  As a painter, I look for well established shows, high attendance and a proven reputation of good "Fine Art" sales.  Unlike many, I really believe it's not a good idea to stay at the same show year after year.  Inventory does not change dramatically from year to year and I've heard people pass by booths stating, "we saw them last year." - So, don't be afraid to leave a show for a year or two.  Then you can return with a fresh look, and probably good sales.
      Best of luck!  Here's a great article that will give you some insight into the different kinds of shows offered.  Choose your shows carefully, don't just do shows to do shows. As always, keep on, keeping on - Diane

Choosing the Right Art and Craft Show
Courtesy of the National Craft Association

Arts and Crafts Shows, Music Festivals, Art Shows & other festivals can be one of the best marketing tools available to artisans. The show provides you with a direct selling access to the purchasing customer. Show costs vary widely depending upon region, the attendance records, and advertising support provided. 

Bazaar/Flea Market: This type of show is usually sponsored by churches, schools, clubs or organizations as a fund raiser for their group. Included with this group are open air markets, antique-craft shows and theme events like car shows, bake sales, sporting events, air shows, etc.. While the cost to enter is usually very low, the return in sales is usually not worth the 2 or 3 days of your time. Our survey has found this type of show usually attracts more browsers than buyers. The merchandise offered that does sell is usually low-end, from $1.00 to $15.00. Unless this is the type of merchandise you specialize in, or it is a special holiday show with a good reputation, you can usually spend your time and money on more profitable shows than these. This is a forum for the hobby/craft seller who makes a few things all year and wants to sell some items to support their hobby or group. Another thing to consider is that whenever "flea market" is attached to the name of the event, the customer it attracts is usually the bargain hunter looking for the "super low-low price" and not a serious art or craft buyer. 

Festivals and Fairs: This type of show is usually sponsored by civic groups, merchant or neighborhood associations, or towns/cities, etc.. The show is usually put on by a professional promoter and is well organized, well advertised and well attended. The deciding factor here is to understand the content of the event. If it is advertised as an arts & craft show be sure that your presence will be a dominate factor in promoting the show. Make sure that the arts & crafts are mixed well with the entertainment and food, not isolated into a remote area. If that happens you will not benefit from the mainstream of traffic attending the event Attendance is usually good. Many of these shows have a solid reputation for many years. Our survey finds that arts and crafts do well at these events as long as the show promotion features arts & crafts. On average the best selling price is up to $50. Selling prices vary depending on the region of the country and rural versus city. Develop a competitive price range for your merchandise based on your target market and selling area. 

Arts & Craft Shows: Here we will lump all organized professionally produced shows that are for the specific purpose of promoting the sales of handcrafted art or craft items. The show can be inside/outside, at convention centers or shopping malls, or buildings, etc.. They are usually broken into categories by type; Fine Art; Fine Craft; Traditional Art & Craft. Some shows allow a mix of fine and traditional, while others have specific definitions of what they allow. This is usually determined by their application information and jury process. Here I also want to note wholesale trade shows. A wholesale show will provide you with access to buyers for retail outlets for your work, if you are interested in expanding into the wholesale market. The key here is to choose a show that attracts the type of customer most likely to buy your type of work. If you do a country theme, then a show that caters to an up-scale modern trendy crowd probably won't work for you or vice versa. If you are not sure about the show, talk with the promoter and other vendors to find out more about the make-up of the show, and best of all visit the show and check it out. These are a few things you want to know: number of years running; average attendance, and last year's; how many vendors within each category are allowed (jewelry, wood, fiber, paintings etc.); customer parking; customer admission fees; is it handcrafted only or do they allow imported/or commercially produced items?; size of space provided; extra costs like electric, door prizes or special uniform booth requirements; set-up and break-down arrangements &/or costs. Some convention centers charge for transporting your display to your booth site. The organized art or craft show is usually the best place to start with when you decide to sell your handcrafted work. Don't decide based on just entry fees. Select shows that are closely aligned with your type of merchandise and your target customer.

Article provided by:
The National Craft Association, an information and resource center for artists and crafters from beginner to seasoned professional. 2012 Ridge Road East #120, Rochester, NY 14622-2434 Phone: 716/266-5472, Fax: 585/785-3231
Email:, Web:
Reprinted with permission.  All rights reserved.

Newsletter Editor:
Diane Elliott Bruckner -

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