Richard Aerni on thu 27 dec 07
Welcome back to the craft show world, I think! (Sorry you have to
Yes it's down. I don't have many answers, maybe none, but I've got some
You mention that organizers have let their standards "slip" about letting in
kits and such...It may be less a case of letting standards slip than just
not having as many quality craftspeople apply, and having to fill booths.
Case in point...I am on the governing board of the largest craft show in
Rochester, which is a chief fundraiser for the art museum here. We have
shrunk the show, but despite that, applications are down and the quality is
also down. Some of that is due to the perception that shows aren't good
anymore, I'm sure. Some of it is also due to the fact that the Board of
Directors of the museum have mandated certain income targets, which
necessitate a rise in both booth fees as well as paid admission price, which
discourages marginal economic artistic enterprises as well as more casual
attendees to the show, who may turn into buyers.
How does one deal with that? Well, for one, we are expanding the area which
we take applications from. Previously, it had been the western and central
areas of NY state, as part of our mission is to encourage local artists and
craftspeople, but as applications dry up and quality goes down, we are
expanding to all of NY state except for the NYC area (NY folks, take
note...this is the Clothesline Show in Rochester, NY, second weekend in
September). Further, we are making jurying more stringent, not less so, so
that the quality of the show will rise, giving us more to offer our paying
customers. We'll see how that turns out.
Another reason for a decrease in show quality, in my opinion, is the
prevalence of the ZAPP application process. This has separated the shows
into those that can afford to pay ZAPP the huge management fees and those
that can't. The more established artists tend to stick with the ZAPP
process, since it is easier and quicker and the better shows mostly use it.
So, the smaller shows tend to miss the better artists from out of that
region. It has also led to a huge increase in competition for spaces in the
ZAPP shows, as the number of applications to almost every show has
skyrocketed. This has been a bonanza for the show organizers, as their take
from jury fees has increased dramatically. But, it has made it harder to
get into those shows as well, so artists tend to apply to more and more
shows in the hope of getting into enough to make a go of it. What that has
led to is a huge increase in the number of accepted artists who cancel,
often at the last minute, as their show calendar becomes overbooked, or
double booked. Which means organizers are left to scramble to fill empty
spaces, often with local, less proficient artists than those who canceled.
I've talked with show organizers who say they have run through their "wait
list" category very quickly, and been left to call anyone they know who is
likely to show. I assume the marketplace will adjust eventually to this new
reality, but it is different, and not necessarily better, for artists and
show organizers, in the short run.
What to make of all this? Damned if I know... Like others, I have been
hosting my own studio shows for many years. I now have a showroom in my
studio for "clean" sales and display. I just set up an Etsy site. I am
working on a web site for more internet presence. I take part in, and
encourage, artist-run shows. We are in the process of getting one on it's
feet in Ithaca, NY (Linda Blossom and Cary Joseph's baby) which is mostly
clay. I think it's all about taking charge of your own destiny.
We as artists and craftspeople (well, at least me) got lazy when shows were
working so well, that we tended to think that was "THE WAY", but in fact
there are many ways.
Clayart can help people find their own ways by encouraging discussion on the
On Thu, 27 Dec 2007 07:20:39 -0600, Kathy McDonald
>I found this thread quite interesting because I had been
>out of the business of doing shows for 3 out of 4 of the
>due to health reasons.
>As my production picks up I've ventured back into that
>market a bit
>but have had to hire someone to do the selling. Revenue from
>the bigger shows
>is way down. I think people are now going to those to
>"look". It's become
>Customers tell me they think the quality of shows is
>deteriorating because organizers
>have let their standards down and are allowing "kits" and
>other forms of goods that
>are not artisan or handmade. Seems the only people really
>making money from the shows are the organizers. Average fees
>for a one day sale around here are 75-100 dollars.
>This might sound arrogant but it's not worth my while to pay
>a booth attendant, and set up a decent display unless I make
>8 to 10X the fee.
>What has been much more profitable are sales that are like
>the "home parties" , someone "host" them , invites people
>and provides food . Seems to generate enough interest to
>offer to host another. I know it sounds like a Tupperware
>but believe me it works to sell. It's more fun , more
>intimate and those who come
>usually attend to buy.
KATHI LESUEUR on thu 27 dec 07
On Dec 27, 2007, at 11:53 AM, Richard Aerni wrote:
> Another reason for a decrease in show quality, in my opinion, is the
> prevalence of the ZAPP application process. ...... This has been a
> bonanza for the show organizers, as their take
> from jury fees has increased dramatically. ........... What that has
> led to is a huge increase in the number of accepted artists who
> often at the last minute, as their show calendar becomes
> overbooked, or
> double booked. Which means organizers are left to scramble to fill
> spaces, often with local, less proficient artists than those who
> I've talked with show organizers who say they have run through
> their "wait
> list" category very quickly, and been left to call anyone they know
> who is
> likely to show. I assume the marketplace will adjust eventually to
> this new
> reality, but it is different, and not necessarily better, for
> artists and
> show organizers, in the short run.
When ZAPP first started I predicted it would be one of the worst
things to happen to shows (The Source Book being my first choice). I
see that my prediction is true. It's a nightmare for everyone
involved. But since shows are raking in the jury fees I expect ZAPP
to continue on its merry way and the show that doesn't require ZAPP
will become the anomaly. Will people develop the same attitude to
shows that don't take ZAPP as those that take photographs rather than
slides? Not a show worth doing.
I will continue to avoid shows that require ZAPP submissions like the
Lee Love on fri 28 dec 07
I don't understand the problems with Zzap. Can any one explain the
issues with me?
Digital really makes it easier for me, especially where
slides are concerned and my being way over here on the other side of
Lee in Mashiko, Tochigi Japan
"Tea is nought but this: first you heat the water, then you make the
tea. Then you drink it properly. That is all you need to know."
--Sen No Rikyu
"Let the beauty we love be what we do." - Rumi
KATHI LESUEUR on fri 28 dec 07
On Dec 28, 2007, at 4:52 AM, Lee Love wrote:
> I don't understand the problems with Zzap. Can any one explain the
> issues with me?
> Digital really makes it easier for me, especially where
> slides are concerned and my being way over here on the other side of
> the globe.
It isn't the process that is the problem with ZAPP. It's that there
is a whole new layer taking money from artists. Shows pay ZAPP to
process the applications. Artists pay that fee with increased
application fees. It also makes it so easy to apply to hundreds of
shows that people apply to them without even thinking, "can I really
get in this show?" The shows love it because their applications
fees have increased dramatically. At one time "jury fees" were
intended to offset the cost of having people to come in to jury. Now
it's an "application fee". Another fundraiser. They want as many
applications as possible. So, all of these artists who don't have a
chance of getting in the show pay their $35-$50 to apply. A number
of years ago a top Florida show sent out a letter saying they had
extended their deadline because they hadn't received enough qualified
applicants. A friend called to say she was going to apply and to see
if I was going to apply. Hell no! They just didn't get enough
applications for the fees they had budgeted so they were extending
the deadline in hopes that a few more suckers who had no chance of
getting in would send them money. ZAPP takes this whole scam and
multiplies it. Everyone makes out except the artists who spend lots
more money, get lots more rejections, get lots of more last minute
wait-list calls and can't plan for anything.