Before Committing to the ShowBy Niki Hilsabeck, posted 04/18/18 10:14:33
5 Aspects to Consider Before Signing on to an Art Festival
Niki Hilsabeck in Art Business Advice
The first thing I look at when signing up for a festival is cost. In addition to the fee to participate, I know that I'm going to be spending money on gas, food, frames, and any other packaging and display items to bring to the event.
Some events will offer perks for artists, such as a meal, snacks, or drinks, which helps. And, keep in mind that if your artwork isn't priced appropriately for high-end festivals, the cost to attend the festival might mean that you're going to lose money.
Likewise, if your artwork is priced too high for a low-end festival, you may have trouble finding customers and will end up wasting money to attend (and, more importantly, time which also translates to money for many of us).
Before signing up to an event, take out your calculator and tally up your costs (don't forget to leave a cushion for money you might end up spending on small emergencies that often happen en route to or during the event).
With those costs in mind, determine how much art you would need to sell to recover your costs, and decide whether or not you feel comfortable spending the money to attend.
2. Setup stress
A festival that provides a smooth setup process (especially with event helpers to get you quickly unloaded) and reasonably close parking can make a big difference in your event experience. Beware of events where you're expected to maneuver your own way through roadblocks to get to your booth, or expected to park far away from the event itself.
Festivals located in the middle of a busy eating or shopping district can be appealing, but if the local business owners do not want vendors parking anywhere near the event, you might find yourself facing a long trek to and from your vehicle when setup is over and breakdown time arrives.
Whatever you do, don't be tempted to park illegally. I was at a recent festival where an artist had her car towed, leaving her and her toddler stranded at the event because the car seat was in the car. If you haven't attended or participated in a particular festival that interests you, inquire ahead of time about setup and parking.
This may sound funny coming from a Southern Californian, but weather can make or break a festival for me. I know there are hardier festival exhibitors than I who brave storms and gale-force winds with their displays, but I don't have that kind of stamina, so if a festival is in an area known for wind gusts, I'm usually out.
Oppressive heat is another consideration, although out here, people tend to expect the heat. If you're looking at the requirements for a festival and extreme weather is mentioned, be sure you have the appropriate gear to secure your display (and insurance on your work, to cover losses if they happen).