Donald P. Chitwood/Jane Peterson on thu 28 mar 96
I sympathize with your frustration over the "hidden" costs of running a
show. I've been involved with Essence of Fire, a holiday gallery co-op,
and more peripherally, with the Oregon Potters Association's huge annual
Showcase. Both of these are run by hardworking volunteers and the expenses
are still astonishing.
For example, promotional costs are breathtaking (to me) even for relatively
modest efforts. Your average tiny newspaper ad in a large local paper
costs over $300 here, and one ad is a waste of money. It usually takes
three to penetrate the advertizing haze and get customers' attention. So a
reasonable series of ads can cost a $1000. That would be sixty six $15
entries just for minimal advertizing! And that's without having to shoot
any photos or pay for layout.
I do wonder, though, if there is some sense in charging a fee only to those
who get in. My reasoning is this, if you apply to a major craft fair and
get in, then you do have to pay a booth fee. If you don't get in, well, it
cost you the mailing, slides, etc., but that's it. Booth fees are often
quite high, $200 and up. But you do have the opportunity to sell your
Just curious, if you took your expenses for the show and divided it into
the number of accepted participants, would you get a number that potters
might be willing to pay in order to participate? Those who get in do get
the chance to sell a major piece and get that line on their resume. Of
course, that won't match the sales from a booth at a good crafts fair, but
there is always that matter of prestige . . . What do you think? Am I
Insurance is still another bugaboo. Only recently could Showcase afford to
offer compensation to members whose work was damaged by the public. I know
that liability and building insurance were all Essence of Fire could pay
and still not quite break even. One look at the "books" and reality sets
in. If we potters are going to have public venues for our work, there will
be some risks involved. It doesn't hurt to keep in mind that old saying,
don't risk more than you are willing to lose.
Just a thought.
Portland, OR USA
Michael McDowell has enough mis-information in his posts that I will
respond without TRYING to be too defensive...
First, the Market House Craft Center (that produces the Strictly Functional
Pottery National) is a non-profit volunteer organization.
Second, the SFPN limits the selling price of entries to a ceiling of $600
(not $300 as Michael stated in his post of 3/24).
Third, entry fees were $10 for one, $15 for two, and $20 for three entries
(not $15-30 as he stated in his post of 3/27).
It is clear that Michael has never been involved in an organization that
puts on a major event...
or he would know that:
It costs MONEY to print and mail out the prospectus to prospective applicants.
It costs MONEY to advertise in magazines to attract applicants.
It costs MONEY to get the juror and bring him/her to the site.
It costs MONEY to put together a quality catalog with 45 or more photographs.
It costs MONEY to print and mail out invitations to the opening reception
It is amazing how the expenses add up. Even the phone bill gets very high.
etc. etc. etc.
The Market House Craft Center ALREADY plans on "spending," or "investing"
(which could be called "losing", I suppose), $1000 on prize money because
our sponsorships are not large enough to cover the awards we want to be
able to give.
We do not charge admission to view this exhibition. We work very hard at good
We do always try really hard to break even on the SFPN. If we SHOULD come
out ahead that money will be put back into the exhibition for prizes or
upgrading the prospectus, the catalog, or whatever. I would hate to feel
like we had to put a thousand dollars or more aside for insurance
deductibles. So far, the SFPN has had NO insurance claims. But the Market
House Craft Center cannot afford the kind of loss that COULD happen. If
anyone has suggestions, we would be MORE than happy to listen. We agree
that it is hard on the artists to have to bear this burden and if we can
figure out a way to avoid it for next year we will try. Maybe we could try
to split that responsibility in the future. (Just thinking of solutions
here... that idea and any others would have to pass through the Market
House Craft Center's Board of Directors before it could become reality.)
We are very proud of the Strictly Functional Pottery National, and are very
pleased at the support we have received from the PA Council on the Arts,
from our business sponsors, from the craft community, and from the public.
We can always improve. If you have ideas to help us do that, we very much
Jean Lehman (only a LITTLE defensive, as Project Director, SFPN)
j_lehman@ACAD.FandM.EDU (that's an _underscore_ not a hyphen)