2002 SHOW DIRECTORS CONFERENCE
April 30 and May 1, 2002
New Orleans, LA
The third NAIA Show Directors Conference convened on Tuesday morning. Board member and conference organizer, Toni Mann, welcomed everyone and thanked show directors for bringing samples of their promotional items, publications and artist market materials to share with others in attendance.
NAIA President Larry Oliverson explained the purpose of the conference is to foster communication between shows and artists, and between shows themselves as a networking tool. The agenda covers many specific topics, but substantial time will be designated as “open agenda” for discussion on topics of choice. Introductions were made around the room.
DAY 1: TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2002
Agenda Topic: Getting the Job Done Overcoming Obstacles Faced by Events
Presenters: Shary Brown, Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor, MI, and Mo Dana, Des Moines Arts Festival, Des Moines, IA
Mo Danas focus was on fundraising. She opened the discussion by saying, “Overcoming obstacles is my whole year!”. With an operating budget of $1 million, fundraising for Des Moines Arts Festival is her biggest challenge in order to fulfill the festival mission of enriching the quality of life in the Des Moines area and entertain with quality art, yet still being affordable to the public. Her charge is to create “something to hang our hat on that draws the best artists to Des Moines”, is a tourist attraction, and is also an event that Fortune 500 companies can use to recruit high-end professionals to the city.
Mo believes in stressing the ART in her $400,000 markting and promotion budget, and her “Embrace an Artist” ad campaign stresses buying art. However, to do this means de-stressing the beer, etc. Consequently, earned income is low. An evolution from the 40-year-old Des Moines Arts Centers “Art in the Park”, the festival also pays an annual $50,000 “franchise fee” to the Art Center. While the festival is happy to do so, it is also a struggle. Therefore, sponsorship is key. And the sponsors who spend anywhere from $100 to $75,000 MUST be kept happy to feel their investments are worthwhile.
Mo concluded by reminding everyone that without money, the festival cant accomplish its lofty ideals of keeping fees low to the artists so they arent “charged” to pay for entertainment or to benefit the community.
Shary Browns largest obstacles for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair during the past few years have been political, causing her to re-examine, “What is the role of these events in a community” when a small portion of that community wants an ever-growing piece of the event. The mission of AASAF is to connect the public with the art, and is one of 5 shows that will take place in Ann Arbor during the same weekend in July. When merchants in the area where AASAF was located decided to create their own show modeled after the State Street event, AASAF was forced to find a new location. At first, it looked like a hopeless situation in a town the size of Ann Arbor, but they made remarkable progress in getting the attention of city council, and support of planners, artists, etc., and creating the “voice that was heard” how the event is perceived nationally. A new location has been identified for next year. When AASAF moves, Art Fair Village will expand to fill the old space and more artists will be added to the overall size of the 5 combined shows.
Shary noted that Ann Arbor is different than any other event due to:
1. Size: While the sheer size of the 5 events is a risk, it is not necessarily a death knell. But it requires planners to focus on the positives of the shows and build upon those as a core asset.
2. Variety: The variety in the shows creates a very wide breadth. While very eclectic, it is solid work and is an event worth traveling to.
Still, the concern is how BIG can the festivals grow and the city still be able to support the events? With shows that bring in more than 800,000 visitors to the small town over the 4 days, it creates a tremendous strain on city services.
The floor was opened for questions:
Q: How do all five directors work together? Shary: Since all have different missions, it works OK. For a while, the three core shows collaborated on collective things (operation, support, advertising, etc.)
Q: What is the best way to deal with an event that is treated like a “red-haired stepchild” (when compared to the other famous event her city is known for)? (posed by Susan Coleman, St. James Court Art Show)
Shary: Use your Board of Directors as a “tool” by recruiting members who are politically savvy. The Ann Arbor board was carefully created and is involved in the workings of the event and sees value in what they do. Still, an issue is that boards tend not to plan for the future. AASAFs challenge in moving the event turned out to be the silver lining to address issues and embrace change. She recommends:
1. When change is happening, encourage everyone to think philosophically and with vision, and embrace who you are as a core;
2. Think “esthetically” to see the vision (In AASAFs case, this meant hiring a professional planner was an “absolute must”).
Q: How much of the budget is earmarked for advertising?
Shary: Michigan embraces art fairs. They dont need to advertise much, but they use a lot of gorilla marketing. Their $20,000 advertising budget is spent on hiring consultants whose services provide them with a $200,000 campaign. Yet while it is an advantage that everyone knows about the Ann Arbor shows, it is a double-edged sword because people already think they know what is happening.
Q: What are your staff sizes?
Mo: 3 full-time staff.
Shary: 1 full-time, 1 -time; 1 intern.
Q: What sort of in-kind support do you get?
Shary: They are not good at getting a lot of in-kind. Entertainers are not paid, but most everything else is paid for on an austere budget. The Convention and Visitors Bureau provides a lot of support, although no economic impact study has been done.
Q: What was the process in choosing a new location?
Shary: 7 sites were toured during last years event. They worked closely with city council members they would have to deal with in order to build a partnership.
Q: How has the economic downturn affected your funding?
Mo: I read companies Annual Reports for insight how to approach them for funding. As an example, I have created a program that allows funders to pay in 3 yearly terms (4 years for construction companies).
Agenda Topic: Registration Processes Universal/Online Applications Revisited Computerized Jury Score Tabulation and On-Site Jurying Methods.
Computerized Jury Score Tabulation
Presenter: Sara Shambarger, Krasl Art Fair
Krasl began using computerized jury score tabulation two years ago when Benton Harbor, MI-based Whirlpool Appliance Company helped develop a computer system. Using overhead transparencies, Sara explained that judges use laptops to enter judging scores into a basic Excel spreadsheet template. After completion of judging, all spreadsheets are combined into a master tabulation sheet by copying and pasting. Weighted scores are calculated, and a pivot table is created that provides the final ranking and invitation list.
For slide jurying, Krasl uses 4 outside judges whose scores are weighted to account for 90% of the total score, and 4 Krasl judges whose scores supply the remaining 10%. Artists are scored on a 1 7 scale using all numbers and no zeros. (Larry noted that a study has shown that statistically this is the best method.) 50% of artists are invited back the following year.
Larry noted that Krasls system is one example of a good system that works that does not require the judges to be computer literate. The beauty of it is its concept and the record that it keeps, as well as the tremendous timesavings. Krasl has offered to make the system available to other shows if they desire.
Q: How does Krasl determine how many artists are accepted in each category?
A: A survey was done some years ago to determine what would make a balanced show. Although there is a bit of discretion, the balance is determined mostly by the panel.
Q: What do the various shows do with ties?
Sara (Krasl): So far, it hasnt happened.
Mo Dana (Des Moines): If a tie happens, judges will revisit slides until the tie is broken
New Orleans JazzFest: Staff scores
Three Rivers: Advisory Committee determines
Arts, Beats & Eats: Look at the difference between artists to create a variance.
Q: How do you input artists into the system for site jurying when you have a last-minute wait list addition?
A: Since Krasl judges by booth , it doesnt matter.
Discussion opened up to general comments about jurying processes, including:
Should discussion among jurors be encouraged?
For shows that require a 15-word statement from artists for the slide jury, how is it used and perceived by artists?
How important is it to artists to receive their scores from jurying? Varying opinions were expressed with no consensus among conference participants. The exception was a general acknowledgement that 15-word statements would not eliminate the need for individual slide descriptions since both are often used during jurying. Sara noted that Krasl allows jurors to discuss slides, but that she moderates and sets boundaries and parameters. All statements submitted by artists are read to the jurors.
Note: Don Ament said he would like to write an article for the NAIA newsletter about how shows use the 15-word statement and what kinds of things shows would like to see in them. He asked directors present to write a response to him.
Universal/Online Applications Revisited Presenter: Larry Oliverson, for WESTAF.
Larry referred to a hand out in the Conference folder of notes from a December 2000 meeting that was held in Chicago to discuss the feasibility of cooperative art fair applications and the use of the Internet to introduce jurying efficiencies. Larry noted that this process began when the NAIA pushed for some standardization in procedures. WESTAF (Western States Arts Federation) made a presentation at last years Director Conference. Their process is divided into two parts:
1. Information gathering, and
2. The imagery and judging from digital images.
Although there are advantages as well as disadvantages to such a process, it appears inevitable that something like this will be happening in the future. The objective is to have one application online with universal information, and pop-up menus for information about specific shows. WESTAF has new Linux-based software they have developed applicable to the grant writing process that could be modified for the art fair industry and adaptable to all forms of software and manipulation. Since adopting such a system will require trust, it may be difficult to accept at first, but could become a win-win situation.
It was recognized that a large hurdle would be in the quality and consistency of digital images. It was considered whether WESTAF would need to scan all images in order to insure consistency, but as monitors improve, viewing quality would become less an issue.
Conference participants were encouraged to read the handout from WESTAF, and to consider whether this approach is appealing to the shows.
Agenda Topic: Making Your Event Accessible: Understanding and Implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act
Presenter: Laura Grunfeld, Human Resources Director, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
With the enactment of the ADA in 1990, the U.S. is slowly coming into compliance and the Department of Justice is now beginning to pay more attention to smaller events and temporary set ups to insure accessibility. Laura discussed the procedures her event takes to insure the Jazz Festival is one of the most accessible events in the country to persons with disabilities.
Why is it important to be accessible? It is the right thing to do. Accessibility makes the event more enjoyable. Disability is increasing among patrons. Places with wheelchair accessibility are also accessible to families with children in carriages. It is good business sense – people with disabilities and their families have incomes! It is a civil right, and it is the law.
Both artists and events need to consider accessibility. Jazz Festival sends a brochure to artists, “Making Your Booth Accessible”, with suggestions such as: Allow access spaces of 36″ wide, and Set displays of artwork no higher than 36″ from the ground.
- Considerations for events include:
- Designate a staff member or volunteer as an ADA coordinator, and train the coordinator
- Think about different types of disabilities and how you might accommodate them
- Evaluate your site for accessibility:
- How would people with disabilities get there?
- Once there, can they get in?
- Can they get access to all goods and services (including restrooms)?
- How can they deal with other barriers?
- How will they exit, especially in an emergency?
Some disabilities are not immediately visible, so it is important to be aware and considerate. The goal is to serve all persons with dignity. Jazz Fest now has many more people with disabilities who attend.
Many ADA regulations can be found on the Internet. NEA has an accessibility staff and can also be a source. Conference participants were also referred to Lauras handout, “Making Your Event Accessible” for further suggestions.
Q: As a small businessperson, is an artist required to follow these procedures?
A: The law requires “reasonable accommodation”, but sometimes it is better to go beyond what is required. Accessibility can take place in steps; DOJ wants to see that a plan is in place.
Toni noted accessibility issues may also apply to artists themselves who may need special accommodations and suggested applications ask this question.
Agenda Topic: Corporate Sponsorship Advantages/Concerns
(This agenda topic arose from concerns of artists how sponsorship is impacting events. Discussion was directed by conference participants and moderated by Larry.)
Bob Briscoe noted this topic came up in an NAIA Town Hall meeting this winter. Concerns are that corporate sponsor booths are so close to artists that it becomes confusing whether a festival is about the art or the event, and change its ambiance. Artists understand the need for sponsorship since artist fees dont make a dent in event budgets, but are concerned about how pervasive it becomes. Larry suggested the issue might be how to intertwine the needs of artists and sponsors to make it work in a good way.
Mo Dana noted Des Moines has strict restrictions that all sponsors must be art-related. She spends 25% of sponsors support on the sponsor package that features some kind of art education to attract people who dont think about art at first, but may then buy art.
Shary pointed out that sponsorship is one of the biggest challenges shows face. Media sponsors are the most difficult to place: they come first and have the most clout, and are the least interested in broadcasting from any place but the central spot.
Carol Romine (Coconut Grove) would appreciate hearing more from artists about problems, but when a sponsor pays $50,000, they want to be in the middle of the event.
It is also difficult to work with and place sponsors promoting sales activities and elaborate giveaways.
Larry said artists see problems immediately when pulling into a show, but its tough to change things when the show is happening. From attending IEG seminars, he recognizes that sponsorship is a business deal, not philanthropy; sponsors need to get value for their dollar.
Directors asked artists to tell them about events where sponsor relations WORK.
Larry noted that Stephen King (MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival) wears a sponsors hat or badge when doing TV spots so they are seen in the background. Carol noted that flagship TV stations need to be in place well before the event. Cynthia Davis suggested requesting media to interview artists before and during the show, which most try to do.
Mo said that to get sponsorship money, find out who is making money and who hasnt given to the community and what they are interested in. She often uses a “patron is a voter” technique to make them understand that the patron wont be happy with the sponsorship if they try to leverage it. Her philosophy: “Tell them what they want; what you are doing; and what you just did.”
- Other ideas and thoughts:
- Read every word of the Wall Street Journal every day so you know what companies are doing. (Mo)
- Check out the Sunday paper for who is advertising. (Carol)
- Know what is going on in your community, as well as what the market can bear; know the value you are giving them. (Brandy)
- Every level of sponsorship has different benefits package. Dont charge more each year to old sponsors who supported you over the years, but charge more to new sponsors. (Mo)
- Only sponsors get their names in keepsake programs; no ads are sold (Mo)
- Cherry Creek Arts Festival dropped sponsor level charged to have a presence on site from $40,000 to $10,000 to get away from “snobby” images of privilege; now focus on “what can we do to help you”? (Terry)
- Agenda Topic: Media Relations
Presenters: Mo Dana, Des Moines Arts Festival and Cindy Fitzpatrick, Metris Uptown Art Fair
Mo noted the issue is how to get sponsors and artists more “bang for the buck”
Ideas for better media success:
- Put together talking points to help sell art; hand out to
- All artists
- Board members and anyone else to be interviewed.
- Create talking points for interviewers also, and tell them what to say
- All volunteers and staff told not to do any interviews
- What is news? Important to understand
- Press releases:
- Only well written new news releases;
- Must have a consequence, solicit interest and be timely (can send news releases about everything!)
- Surviving a media interview
- Sometimes you shouldnt answer questions (esp. if negative or loaded questions)
- Always have 3 things you want to get out about your event
- People dont listen to the questions; only the answers
- Focus on Who, What, When, Where, Why
- Take sponsors to interviews, but dont let them speak!
- Ad campaigns
- All campaigns centered on telling people to buy art
- Purpose of music, shade & food is to make people stay longer to buy art!
- Feed stories to the media and sponsors. Dont talk about any problems with event
- Be careful whom you steer media to interview.
- Be ready for things you know are going to happen and deal with negatives before the question comes up.
- Begin promotion way ahead of time & work on it all year long. Dont bombard with blanket releases, but have unique ideas in each (ex: Barbie campaign of “Expose Yourself to Art” for a pre-show event). Finds media now calls her in advance to “find out whats new”.
- Play off one media against another: Give them “exclusives” on a story for a limited time, but that will give to another media if they dont print the story.
- Look for reporter bylines and cultivate those who covers events like yours.
Toni suggested meeting media at the gate of your event and walking them to the best spot, or they may film whatever is closest and handy for them
Shary added it is good to get to know artists who have unusual stories to feed to the media, and be able to pump it out immediately to the press. She encourages artists to send usable things to her.
Mo concluded, “Were going to make mistakes and we need help from other show directors and artists to help us improve.” Larry responded, “Its wonderful to see changes being made with the shows and artists communicating. It used to be that artists didnt feel they were listened to.”
Brandy asked show directors to share some interesting media ideas:
- Coconut Grove sent out sheets to artists asking for information. Winter Park has an area for the media where artists would have work ready to show. (Connie Mettler, Arts, Beats & Eats)
- TV sponsor is doing a feature on “The Road to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival” about an artist who was finally accepted after 11 years of applying. Documentary will start in Boston as the artist packs up, another segment on the way in Indiana, etc. (Terry)
- Focused a story on an artist who was at the show every year for 30 years (Susan Coleman, St. James Court Art Show)
- Send food to news crews with a little taste treat before festival (Lynnette Wallace, Bayou City Art Festival)
- A young girl will be a special “roving reporter” at festival to talk about art (Mo)
- Use PBS/NPR for longer festival stories; commercial stations wont complain (Shary)
- Keep festival visible year round. Her media sponsor follows Coconut Grove from application deadline, through jury, to a “surprise” visit to an artist with an acceptance packet and follows up through the festival (Carol)
Pamela asked if shows would like to have press kits on artists. All shows answered, “Yes.” NAIA is trying to encourage artists to create press kits.
Agenda Topic: Open Agenda
WESTAF Online Applications. Larry raised the topic again and suggested the NAIA could act as a conduit between WESTAF and show directors. Terry Adams, Beth Hoffman, Cindy Fitzpatrick and Shary Brown said they were willing to look at the WESTAF process. Larry will put them all in touch.
Mo raised the issue that many shows like to use show rankings as a measure of success for media purposes, but wondered if there is a good way to measure success?
The four main ranking sources are: NAIA, ArtFair SourceBook, the Harris List, and Sunshine Artist.
Jennifer noted it is puzzling that while SA places Three Rivers in the Top 200 shows, they give them a bad review. Kip responded that the SAs ranking comes from artists who report sales; but it is an individual artist who does the review. Pamela noted that most rankings are based on the number of responses received from artists. Keena (Jazz Fest) says their policy is to not put any ranking cards in artist packages, but wonders if that ends up hurting them?
Larry referred to an insert in the conference packet from Greg Lawler that explains AFSB procedures. Greg says the more responses he can get, the better it usually is for the show; if responses are low, rankings are often low since complainers usually respond first. Pamela reminded directors that artists use AFSB for reasons other than how shows do, and that it was designed for artists usage. However, Jennifer said that SA and AFSB can “make or break” a show — she called one of the publications and they said they would edit some comments about the show, but they did not do so. Georges (Krasl) concern is that there is no set of standards for the rankings, and asked, “Would artists ever be comfortable with that method when jurying??”
Susan noted that while AFSB sends show reports to directors for comment before they are published, NAIA does not. Larry responded the reason is that NAIA prints everything they get without any editing in order to remain completely open. NAIA takes no sides on anything. A suggestion was made by a number of directors that NAIA should then let shows have the same opportunity to comment. The other show directors soundly supported this suggestion.
Rick Nugent pointed out that many artists dont pay attention to any rankings; they believe in trying the show for themselves.
Sarah Rishel suggested that shows that are upset with the rankings process consider sending a communal letter to the publications.
Shary noted that one publication in particular has been notoriously inaccurate over the years, but it is not to the shows benefit to complain since it is too hard to change things, and even then, they are often still wrong.
Terry raised a question about NAIAs survey: How could a show be ranked high in 2 of 5 categories, yet have only 1 positive comment? Larry said that although NAIA is comfortable with their list ranking, it is hard to know how to handle the comments and feedback section.
Mo recognizes that it will only be “so long” before the “honeymoon” for Des Moines is over, but artists tell her they have more concerns about shows than just sales. As directors, we need to realize that the current publications are really for artist usage, only. Mo suggested it would be nice to see rankings that are more encompassing, such as whether the sponsors are a benefit to shows?
Pamela said that most artists know how to interpret the comments section. Most use the guides for reference only.
Brandy noted the concern with rankings is that it is the only way for shows to know if they were doing a good job. Her concern is whether shows get an accurate evaluation if not many NAIA members; SA artists, etc. do the show.
Agenda Topic: Category Presentation
Original Printmaking Processes
Presenter: Deborah Mae Broad
Deborah Mae Broad presented an interesting and informative lecture and slide show that explained and compared traditional forms and techniques of Printmaking: ? Planographic ? Relief ? Intaglio
Note: Deborahs lecture is not captured in these conference notes since most of it was specific to the slides being presented. However, she also explained that new technologies are coming onto the market that are likely to dramatically change the process of printmaking using materials that are less toxic (such as DuPonts new “Image On” film). New technologies are creating “crossover mediums” that are becoming hard to define. In particular, processes now allow photographic prints to be processed through printmaking methods, causing confusion as to exactly what the medium is, especially when it comes to jurying. She advised directors that if they are seeing slides that look like photographs being submitted in the print category, they should not immediately assume the artist is cheating. These new processes are likely to change printmaking and will eventually become part of the vocabulary.
Conference participants unanimously congratulated Deborah Mae on an excellent presentation and would enjoy having more category presentations in future conferences.
DAY 2: WEDNESDAY, MAY 1, 2002
Larry welcomed everyone back for the concluding day. He has received suggestions that future conferences set aside time for participants to say something about their events either by way of comment or for feedback. But he invited all directors today to share an idea, information or aspect about their show they are proud of, or to discuss some of their major challenges:
Wyandotte Street Art Fair Leslie Lupo
Explosion – Last year, the Aldofino Chemical Plant, located 13 blocks from the festival site, exploded while the fair was happening. For a while, it appeared they would have to shut down totally, but police and fire departments were at the ready, and allowed them to stay open. Although attendance was low, they felt fortunate to get through the fair.
Columbus Arts Festival Katie Lucas
Volunteer Committee – A 50-person coordinating committee an amazing volunteer staff who work extremely hard — runs Columbus. Their new director (profiled in Smart Money magazine last month) is raising the level of their stage acts for next year a move being highly supported.
Arts, Beats & Eats Lisa Konikow and Connie Mettler
Growth in attendance – Lisa noted AB&E “got really big, really fast” from 100 artist spaces and only 90 applications and attendance of 200-300,000 people the first year, to over 1.3 million people last year. While AB&E is a long, grueling 4-day urban event, she and Connie Mettler work hard to preserve their “grid of art” in the middle of a big music festival. Connie noted the AB&E promoter has now absorbed the Greektown Festival in Detroit as well, and while the promoter is fabulous, the challenge there is also how to make the ART stand out without being tacky.
Lakefront Festival of Arts Beth Hoffman
Weather – Lakefront faced tremendous weather and unusual challenges last year that turned their site into acres of mud. Although they did their best to distribute hay and lay down walkways, they realize it was still a tough situation for artists and public alike.
Art Collecting Their “Art Collecting 101” promotion brings in speakers before the event to discuss how to collect art. It attracts novices as well as experienced collectors. Slides from artist participants are used to illustrate various principles.
New Museum Money raised from event is used for the Lakefront Museums new acquisition fund. The new museum addition has received the Time Magazine award of the year for architecture a magnificent design with “wings” like a seagull that open and close to control lighting.
Upper Arlington Arts Festival (Ohio) Lynette Santoro-Au
Site – The 36-year-old festival is in its third location. Now on a ball field, their site is multi-purpose: the day after the festival, Little League season starts. Parents challenge her with concerns when they see booths on the field and so many people walking on it during the festival. Lynette also faced the challenge two years ago when she joined the festival that all procedures were only in peoples heads and nothing was written down. She looks forward to working with her newly organized coordinating committee and is encouraging them to take ownership of the event.
Des Moines Art Festival Mo Dana
Handouts to share Mo brought handouts that she placed on tables in the back of the room that she is willing to share, including:
1. Food vendor applications,
2. Production sheets and timelines,
3. Recommendations for research on sponsorships, and
4. Her non-profit package on how local non-profit organizations can get involved.
Red River Revel Arts Festival – Kip Holloway
Nightmare story: 30% of Red River Revels audience for the 8-day event comes from East Texas, since it is only 180 miles east of Dallas. RRR is known for their artist hospitality. After years of changing its site location every year, they stabilized in a location. When the citys mayor said once again the festival would lose its site, tremendous protest from the public and festival staff convinced the mayor to build a permanent site. However, they discovered that asphalt for the artist market site laid a couple of days before the festival acted as a dam when it rained and water was up to peoples knees! But all has been corrected now. Education program: RRRs large art education program brings 4th graders in from every school within 2 parishes for days of performances that promote unity, understanding and belief in their own capabilities. A current childrens project has kids drawing on unbleached muslin from which quilters will create quilts for abused kids.
St. James Court Art Show – Susan Coleman
History St. James Court is an original suburb of Louisville, and is a historic preservation district of Victorian homes. The festival began in 1956 as a “squatters” show of 11 painters to raise money for the district. As it gained in popularity, it grew to encompass 6 neighborhood sections that exhibits 750 artists overall. Since the prior festival director ran things from her own head for 37 years, she left no computer records or written procedures, so much is being developed from scratch.
Education: Louisville closes schools on the Friday of the festival so that school children can attend.
Metris Uptown Art Fair Cindy Fitzpatrick
Marketing Challenge There is a grocery store located within the show area that is now trying to sell its own sponsorships. Cindy is considering how to deal with this.
New Orleans Fresh Art Festival Martha Landrum
New show Presented by the Arts Council of New Orleans, the festival began last year with 65 artists and will present 85 this year on cobblestone streets. In organizing the show, the Council first concentrated on raising money before they even began planning.
Girls Inc. Annual Arts and Crafts Fair Deborah Leyba-Dominguez
Misconceptions People tend to think that this fair in the downtown historic has displays of art only by “little girls” or women, but it attracts artists internationally. The $13,000 budget is spent mostly on advertising, and brings in an audience of 40,000.
Bethesda Row Arts Festival Laura Hudson / Lori Corley
Laura is a paid consultant for the festival begun 6 years ago for the Federal Realty Investment Trusts Merchant Marketing Group to bring people to Bethesda. The president of Federal is also a committed art collector. Although the promoter is not an arts organization, they are working with arts groups to keep the focus on art.
Challenges Space is very tight in Bethesda. Despite a general terrorist alert the weekend of the show, it didnt seem to affect attendance. They find they get a lot of “overflows” from Reston. Laura runs the advertising side. The show budget is $180,000. Lauries challenge is to get the word out on very little and with little sponsorship in an expensive town where expenses continue to rise.
Ann Arbor Street Art Fair Shary Brown
Education – While the festivals education program is not well known, the new festival site will allow them to strengthen and improve artist demonstrations. They will also be able to better promote education programs through a new grant to bring art to after-school programs, low-income areas, senior citizen centers and small private schools, and to provide teacher training workshops to encourage kids to get interested and involved in art. Shary thanked Deborah Mae Broad for her grant writing assistance. Larry noted that NAIA wrote a letter in support of the grant, and would be happy to do similar things for other festivals.
Kansas City Plaza Art Fair Cassie Neustrom
9/11 – The impact of 9/11 two weeks before the festival greatly challenged the Plaza Art Fair last year, while they struggled whether to cancel the event. Despite many artist cancellations, they decided to hold it anyway and had very good results. They created the “Art with Heart” program which allowed artists to donate all or partial proceeds from a designated piece or pieces to the September 11th Fund and which brought great energy to the festival. In January 2002, ownership of the festival transferred to Highwood Properties, which has vowed to continue the festival.
Three Rivers Arts Festival Jennifer Zimmerman
Festival location and length – The Artist Market is only 1 of 5 components of the 17-day festival, and rotates 6 times during the festival, 150 artists at a time, creating a logistical nightmare. But somehow, it has worked out. TRAF is part of the Carnegie Institute, and was started 43 years ago by their Womens Club. However, there is concern whether the event is working for the time and site anymore, so Jennifer is pushing for change, with her main goal to make the festival shorter.
Emerging Artists – New this year is an Emerging Artists program where TRAF is offering free booth space for students or others who are looking for a career change into the arts.
Bayou City Art Festival Lynette Wallace
Two events – Bayous biggest challenge is to keep their two annual events the spring one in the park, and the fall one downtown separate in the minds of the public. The festival has 300 artists, childrens activities, food and NO large stages, and attracts a paid attendance audience of 70,000. Last year they raised $85,000, proceeds from which are split among 11 charities that help with the event.
Sun Valley Center Arts & Crafts Festival Heather Crocker
Their goal is to create a gathering place for people to enjoy art. Sun Valley is a good small show that attracts a lot of celebrities in the area. It is not a fundraising event for the Center, and does not have sponsorships. The show runs on a $50,000 budget, attracts 7,000 people to the free event, but generated over $400,000 in sales for its 130 artists.
Artigras North Palm Beach Chamber Brandy Upright
New location – Artigras moved to its new location in Jupiter, FL this year. It is an 18-year-old show, but Brandy is its first full-time director, and is in her third year with the show. Their budget has grown from $300,000 to $700,000, but they recently decreased the number of artists in the show. The gated event attracts 120,000 150,000 people. $1 of each ticket sold during pre-show ticket sales is donated to area schools.
Krasl Art Fair Sara Shambarger
Cancellations – Krasl is located in a resort community on Lake Michigan. Saras biggest challenge is the cancellation rate of artists. They have a generous cancellation policy, but are questioning whether that is the best practice. 41 artists have cancelled so far this year, so the show ends up being much different than that which was juried in. The event is the same weekend as 5 others (including Cain Park), and although they could consider changing dates, the art fair has a 41-year tradition of that weekend. (Bob Briscoe suggested contacting other shows on the same weekend to try to coordinate cancellation policies and dates.)
Agenda Topic: Successful Practices of the Small/Midsize Show
Presenter: Karla Prickett, Smoky Hill River Festival
Smoky Hill takes place in Salina, KS the same weekend as Chicagos Old Town. With a background as an artist and in Arts Education, Karla takes the artists perspective to the planning table for the festival.
Salina is located in the middle of Kansas at the intersection of highways, but is a strong cultural community with a progressive reputation in the arts. Smoky Hill is in its 25th year and is a project of the citys Arts & Humanities Commission. The 5 full-time A&H employees, 3 full-time festival coordinators and 2 part-time employees are paid by the city. The festival receives a lot of city support, which supplies all of its services. The recently retired Executive Director was a strong visionary who believed in multi-level experiences to help change lives and build community, and also does a lot of collaboration with other organizations.
In addition to the festival, the Commission has year-round projects, including:
- Arts Infusion, which brings artists into the classroom
- Preparing the regional Cultural Calendar, which also incorporates activities in other communities
- Overseeing the local arts grants program
- A poetry reading series
- A public art program
Smoky Hill promotes education under a theme of “new, different and still the same”, as an expression of community identity and an expression of Salina. Everything is geared toward quality. The festival budget is $400,000 and designed to break even (no profit). Approx. 40% is raised from admission fees and merchandise sales. Everything is juried even food. Although not many local artists are juried in, local artists have many other opportunities. Salina is a hub for many people in surrounding communities and is very arts-based year round. It is a gated event ($6-adv, $8 at gate, kids free) in a large park overlooking the Smoky River. The festival is marketed to arts patrons in Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka & Nebraska, and brings in 85-95,000 people more than the population of Salina for a day-long experience of the art show, entertainment, kids activities and stages.
They have 2 juried shows: Fine Art, and Craft (which includes folk art and contemporary). 24% of their 93 artists are invited from award winners, contenders for awards, and some special Director invitations.
Smoky River weighs audience and artist evaluations heavily in planning the festival. Since they share their event weekend with events in Chicago, Columbus, etc., they think closely about their marketing. Audience evaluation forms are in programs and on the web site; artists report their total sales at checkout in order to retrieve their slides; eval forms (and AFSB cards) are mailed out right after the festival.
When artist evaluations showed that craft artists wanted a 3-day show, but fine artists only wanted a 2-day show, the festival developed incentives to create a balance for the fine art artists, including increased awards and a patron program that is exclusive to the fine arts show. In 7 years, the program has 270 patrons and has doubled sales for fine artists.
The patron program offers:
- An invitation to a gourmet breakfast (supplied by the country club and paid for by 8 – $500 contributors), complete with musicians, etc.
- Admission to the show an hour before opening
- Convenient parking ? Assistance in carrying purchases
- An “Arts Patron” button to wear, and cards for patrons to give to artists for display when the patron purchases an artwork
- The patron pledges to purchase at least $250 in artwork (festival receives no commission or other benefit)
Karla presented a slide show of the event. Slide highlights included:
- Artist installations: yearly competition, artists receive stipends
- Wrapped trees: A yearly theme is chosen and 30 trees in park are “wrapped” by artists
- Sand sculpture: Sand sculpture brought to “another level”; sculptures made and then painted
- Stages: 4 stages that are decorated with work by local artists
- Project Bandaloo: A special ambient performing group brought in (expensive) for the festivals 25th anniversary celebration.
- Roving entertainment
- Childrens Arts Area: free activities, including a parade on the last day
- Artisan Demo Areas: scheduled demonstrations
- Poetry Wall: patrons make poetry from words on a wall
- “First Treasures”: an art-buying opportunity for young collectors ($1 – $5 artwork)
Smoky River takes pride in its artist hospitality, including:
- Volunteers who circulate with water, coffee, etc. for artists
- A “red card” for artists to display on their tents when assistance is needed
- Set up & teardown assistance by high school wrestling team (festival pays school $650 for assistance)
- Reasonable fees: booth – $250, jury – $15
- Free & close-in parking for artists
- Artist reception Friday evening after set up
- Artist breakfast on Sunday a.m., and 2 snack bags of oranges, apples, crackers, etc. per day
- Lodging discounts
- Unique awards presentation to artists using a “fife & drum” group
Larry thanked Karla for the excellent presentation and noted that its nice to know that small shows do things so well!
Agenda Topic: Emergency Resources/Assistance for Artists CERF
Presenter: Cornelia Cary, CERF
Cornelia expressed how much she has enjoyed the conference and how impressed she is at the director-attendees focus on art and artists.
While artists have always seemed to band together and “pass the hat” to help one another out with emergency situations, the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) began in 1985 when an artist suffered a significant fire and 3 artists decided to formally raise money for an emergency fund. CERFs mission is to help sustain craftmaking as a livelihood and to try to keep craft artists at work. In the years since, CERF has given to over 400 artists in need. Over 50% of donations come from artists; funding also comes from foundations, shows, etc.
Currently, CERFs financial services include:
- Quick Loans: up to $3,500 no-interest loans to be paid back within 2 years
- Phoenix Loans: larger business loans up to $8,000
- Grant Program: up to $1,000 for people who dont want to take out loans
- Discounts on craft supplies and equipment
- Fee Waivers for booth fees, etc.
CERF sometimes also operates as a “cyber-pass of the hat” for individual donations and support, such as the assistance provided recently to Ken Loeber.
CERF is looking to expand beyond emergency relief to emergency prevention, and is seeking partnerships to develop business and health insurance packages. They recently received an NEA grant to create a resource referral program to identify and access resources. Although CERF was established to help craft artists, it is moving toward helping any artists in any medium. It is currently a non-membership organization. (Cornelia suggested looking at the Visual Artists Hotline to locate current assistance to fine art artists.)
CERF seeks to establish partnerships with shows and festivals:
- Why? Where would any of us be without artists?
- How? Ideas include:
- Business Membership Program: “Lend a Hand” program described in CERF brochure o Booth fee waivers: Some shows waive fees for artists approved by CERF
- Host special events
- Host booth fee raffles: $5 raffle tickets in artist registration packages to receive booth fee refund
- Application check-offs: A checkbox on show applications to donate $3 to CERF
- Pleas: pleas in registration packages to contribute to CERF when they have a good show.
- Whats in it for the show?
- Mention in ads in trade publications that list support to CERF
- Recognition in CERF newsletter published two times yearly
- Recognition on CERF website
Pamela Hill noted that, “CERF is the ultimately respected organization for craft artists.” She sometimes uses the tagline of “CERFs a member” when trying to get craft artists to join NAIA.
Discussion opened up to the attendees:
Mo (Des Moines) and Carol (Coconut Grove) pledged $250 to CERF; Rick Nugent pledged $100; Shary (Ann Arbor) also committed to pledge.
Shary noted that Ann Arbor has a generous emergency withdrawal and emergency refund policy, but it would be helpful to have a set of criteria to help evaluate need. Can CERF help? Could CERF review, evaluate and help make decisions?
Larry noted that CERF could be an alternate to the shows giving aid to individuals.
Cornelia said CERF could urge support for an individual artist, but could only give them the maximum under CERF programs. Perhaps she could write an article for the NAIA newsletter that discusses how CERF makes its decisions.
George (Krasl) asked whether artists usually have personal business insurance to cover their inventory. Cornelia replied that only 7% have inventory insurance; even less hold business interruption insurance.
Cornelia urged everyone to fill out the sign-up forms in the conference package to support CERF.
Open discussionTopic: Artist Demonstrations
Shary: Has learned it is better to have the demo area by the artists booth to provide context. The new AA site will have opportunities for demo stages, but she is learning its hard to get an artist to leave their booth for 2 hours.
Cynthia: Demos are great and attract public, but better to keep close to booths, or within eyesight, and to have knowledgeable boothsitters.
Connie: What is the attraction for artists to demo?
Susan: Public loves it, but need to be in the traffic flow Karla: Bought 2 wireless mikes for artists it made a big difference in audience interest and ability to hear
Rick: “An educated audience is a better audience.” And education is an NAIA goal.
Carole: Coconut Grove doesnt do demos because of the size of the crowds, but does an “artists in the schools” program before and after festival. If artists do demo on site, do they bring their own materials and supplies?
Bob: Ask artist in advance.
Larry: The Coconut Grove school program is very rewarding, even if tough to do. NAIA has Douglas Adams program outline he created that it could make available.
Sarah: Likes the idea of presenting an artist slide show, since she cant do demos because of equipment required.
Karla: Smoky Rivers demo area is under a “shelter house” where 10-15 artists demo near their displays. Demo artists are not in Fine Art or Craft shows, though.
Deborah Mae: But does that promote sales for show artists?
Jennifer: TRAF is giving arts guilds in Pittsburgh tents in the market to do demos, but not sell.
Susan: St. James has gotten sponsors for demos. Demos will be set up in the food area.
Shary: Other thoughts:
- Create demos that could travel to other shows? (Maybe through an NAIA program?)
- Have demos be an indoor component; or
- Work through a docent program, such as the UofM Art Museum.
Larry: An issue is how to do demos without interfering with other artists.
Bob: Other ideas:
- Have someone introduce demos and provide a history of the process; also, be prepared to ask artist questions to stimulate interchange
- Maybe a “team approach” with other artists?
- Artists do a 15-minute talk in their booths
- Show provide a formal slide presentation, and have someone do critical comments/critiques.
Pamela: ACC shows have “walking tours” of booths.
Sara: Cherry Creek had a tent for auction bidding on computer. Could something similar work for demos?
Open Discussion Topic: Donations of Artwork
Susan: How can shows continue to do auctions, but get artists to donate quality work and get tax deductions?
Pamela: Biggest concern is that auctions undervalue artists work rarely auctions for more than the value. Issue for artists is not that they dont want to help, but there is a limit.
Connie: When Arts, Beats & Eats asks an artist to donate a work, they get a jury-exemption invitation for the following year. Auction procedure: a silent auction event the week before the event with a $100 ticket; artwork auctioned as part of a “package” with dinner, champagne, etc.
George: As a consultant, he is offended when people ask him to give of his time since it is not fair to paying customers; thinks the situation is similar for artists.
Don: In Kentucky, laws have changed. New law has an art donation category that allows the FMV of artwork if there is an appraisal and the piece is at least 6 months old. So maybe a national change is on the way.
Pamela: Suggests shows think of alternatives to auctions. Example: Artist agrees to donate a percentage of the purchase price of an artwork when the work is sold.
Larry: Discussed Gasparillas “Festival ArtBucks”: a corporate sponsor allows a customer to purchase a $100 certificate for $90. Customer uses certificate to buy art, but artist gets the full $100 upon cashing in the certificate. The sponsoring corporation gets recognition for the 10% donation.
Shary: Has learned privately that other organizations go through the Ann Arbor show and solicit donations directly from artists for various projects. How do we let artists know that the practice is not sanctioned by AASAF? Could put something in artist packages, but if the soliciting organizations tell the media that donations went down because AA told artists not to donate, AA will look bad.
Don: Even if the show director tells the artist that refusing to donate will not affect their standing in the show, artists are still concerned.
Toni: Referred to a discussion on the NAIA forum: An artist was asked by show to donate a work, but the smallest piece she had was $700. Offered to give show $100 cash instead, but was turned down. Disassembled the piece to give a donation valued at $300. Was sold at auction for $30.
Beth: At end of Lakefront auction, all artists are given lists of the bid amounts.
Susan: Have seen auction buyers go back to the artists booth and buy more work from artist.
Mo: Shows need to challenge ourselves to find something else to auction that wont “bite the hand that feeds us.”
Open Discussion Topic: Artist Hospitality
Carol: What kind of hospitality do artists expect? (Coconut Groves hospitality costs them $42,000 each year.)
Bob: Extremely grateful and appreciative of efforts, but rarely takes advantage of hospitality. His sense is that shows think artists expect it as a form of “entitlement”. Would prefer to see that money go toward promotion or having booth fee lowered.
Rick: Water is nice, but not necessary to overdo hospitality.
Toni: Would be nice if it didnt cost festival cash, but could be an in-kind donation from someone.
Larry: Artists do appreciate hospitality it is a very tangible perk. Putting the money into promotion instead doesnt feel like a tangible perk. Bringing some food and water around is deeply appreciated.
Jennifer: TRAFs artist survey shows artists value free parking and a better breakfast over advertising. Larry: Majority of artists are not cognizant of all the shows have to do to put on the show. When an artist is tired and hungry, the perks are very tangible.
Sara: Krasl could never match what CGAF does. Although they cant do much, they do have volunteers who will bend over backwards to help. One reason to try to increase sponsorship is to increase artist amenities.
Rick: It is just nice to have the basics. But once a show establishes certain basics, can a show ever pull back without complaining?
Karla: Last year, NAIA survey picked Smoky River as #1 in hospitality, but the question for the shows is: what works best for you?
Toni: Need for hospitality sometimes depends on what else is available in area restaurants or food booths. Also, if hospitality food is really bad and a show director wouldnt eat it, neither will the artists.
Brandi: Some events are able to arrange with food vendors to give discounts to artists.
Laurie: Bethesda has started delivering bagels and coffee to artists because too crowded for artists to get it themselves.
Larry: St. Louis delivers box lunches. Artists select from a menu at registration.
Connie: Bill Charney was once told: Not every artist will make money at your show, so make it as hospitable as possible to make us happy and attract us back.
Carole: Surveys (including NAIA’s) seem to come back with comments that are unrealistic.
Rick: NAIA will be revisiting their survey format.
Karla: Survey comment may mean that only one artist is disgruntled.
Carole: But the shows Board of Directors reads the survey and it looks bad to them.
Sara: Krasl doesnt change a policy unless 10 people make the same comment.
Heather: It would be helpful to have information from shows re: exactly what they provide to artists.
Larry summarized the discussion: Try to figure out the minimum fundamental needs that are important to artists. If you make a claim to provide certain hospitality, you should follow through on it. Anything above that claimed is a nice perk, but not really necessary.
Open Discussion Topic: Reproductions
Laurie (Bethesda) questioned how to spot reproductions and how best to enforce rules?
Mo: Des Moines has an expert on staff that goes through the show constantly (accompanied by an attorney). If a problem is spotted, artist is given a grievance report. They have different grievance reports for
different situations. (Mo will share grievance report with attendees.)
Shary: AASAF has incident reports that they require the complainants and artists to sign. She gives lots of warnings and gentle reprimands, and never goes alone to talk to an artist.
Lynette: Arlington has a policy that if an artist has repros, they must be labeled as such, and can only be displayed in a certain way.
Larry: Noted that NAIA has been accused of being anti-reproduction. He stated that the NAIA does not advocate any position regarding the inclusion of reproductions, but does explain and educate about process. The NAIA also stresses that shows should enforce whatever rules they put in place. “When you enforce something, word travels like wildfire. Likewise, when you dont enforce, word travels like wildfire.”
Cindy: In order to enforce, shows need to have validation of rule breaking.
Rick: Used to carry a catalog of glass bevels to help identify rule breaking.
Mo: Has asked artists to allow a studio visit if there is a question.
Larry: Reminded directors and artists that NAIA has no intention of being the “art police”
Heather: How could a show visit an artists studio if it is not near the show? Bill Charney suggested the artist send a video to show their creation of the work, but a video wont show production studios.
Larry: NAIA also has category advisors that can assist.
Susan: What should a show do if an artist claims another artist has “stolen” their designs, techniques, etc.?
Ardath: The show shouldnt get involved. That is an issue between the artists only.
Karla: Also notice many instances where artists are “influenced” by anothers work, but not exactly “copying” them.
Open Discussion Topic: Good Ideas from other Events
Attendees recognized some good ideas they have noted about other events, including:
- Booth layouts on festival web sites
- Post artist acceptances (and wait list) on line the quicker artists know, the better
- Project artist slides at the Artist Dinner
- Artist awards as a public ceremony
- Shows that send out receipt confirmation cards when applications are received
- Include list of other accepted artists with acceptance letters.
- Provide juror comments about the quality of applicants slides
Open Discussion Topic: Targeting Your Audience in Show Promotion
Larry: The biggest concern of artists is that the number of people that attend your event is not as important as that the RIGHT people attend, and that the right message is sent to the media.
Cindy: Uptown did an exit survey of customers. Now have good demographic study that shows a good art-buying community attends. Ended up changing media stations to one more interested in art in order to reach the new demographic
Lynette: Upper Arlington sends out newsletters 3 times/year
Larry: Artists are beginning to use e-mail lists for show announcements. Shows could do that, too, and provide links to their web sites.
Sara: Krasl has a new marketing firm that did an analysis on how to attract buyers
Bob: Perhaps shows could advertise in one anothers programs and “cross-pollinate” since people do take vacations around art shows.
Open Discussion Topic: Merger of NAIA Conference/IFEA Visual Arts Affinity Group? and next NAIA Conference
Larry noted that NAIA has been invited to make presentations during a special VAA session at IFEA (International Festivals and Events Association) since 1997. He questioned whether the session is helpful to show directors, or is there a better way?
Cindy: IFEA started in the parade industry. It is expensive to attend, but includes everything from operations to security to trade shows. When at IFEA, she doesnt want to go to VAA because she wants to attend the other events.
Shary: Attending VAA requires that you miss something else. VAA also requires that someone volunteer to handle the planning since IFEA staff does not direct it.
Lynette: IFEA is so big that there is no close communication. The NAIA conference is better.
1. Are annual NAIA conferences something that show directors want?
2. Are annual conferences something that NAIA wants to take on?
3. Is it important to directors to have an NAIA conference around a citys festival?
Shary: Perhaps overlap an NAIA Members Conference with a Show Directors Conference.
Don: Artist surveys indicate aritsts would like access to show directors.
Mo: Suggested picking one expert from each association (IFEA, International Downtown Assn, etc.) to come to the NAIA conference.
Beth: Need to consider whether pulling the VAA away from IFEA would create a sensitive issue.
Bob: NAIA membership needs to have its own conference to address some issues, but would be good to have some combination with show directors.
Larry: Only Board members, category advisors and show directors invited to present conference in order to provide reasonable and efficient dynamics. And since artists pay for expenses from their own pockets, it might be tougher to get more artists to attend or to open it up to a larger audience.
Karla: Value of NAIA conference is the dialogue between shows, but also to have communication with artists. Doesnt go to IFEA because so formal.
Bob: An NAIA membership conference would include both artists and contributing members, and would set up interactive programs between artists and shows.
Toni: Would be helpful for present attendees to let NAIA know what you would like, and whether the present conference is helpful to directors.
Mo: “Ive got reams of TO DOs to follow up on after this conference!”
Bob: What would be the advantage of having 100 artists attend conferences?
Karla: It would show artists that we care.
Larry: Would like feedback from show directors and jot down what they want communicated to artists. “The more artists understand you care, the more tolerant they will be when perhaps something doesnt go well.”
Shary: What would be the goals of a combined conference? Would like to encourage some long-range visioning to become a collective force in our culture, such as: How to impact communities throughout the year? Any “bricks & mortar” activities we can do? What more as an industry can we do?
Karla: What can shows do to help artists who have never done an art show before?
Larry: Lynn Whipple will be posting information for new artists on NAIA web site. To directors: Will you make a list of questions that new artists ask?
Bob: The art fair industry is still “sneered at” by many. A long term goal: to get universities to validate art fairs as a viable art profession. Universities can be a source of the next-generation artists. (The “emerging” v. “submerging” artists!)
Shary: Would like to see festivals linked nationally (perhaps through NAIA), and create a template so shows dont have to reinvent the wheel. Perhaps create a national campaign.
Larry: (Ken Huff is exploring the possibility of a web site page for art fair consumers.)
Ideas for national campaigns:
- Media promotions
- Travel destination points (ex: through airline magazines)
- Television shows (Connie noted that Lynette Jennings has done a series at arts festivals)
Lisa: Would like to have more category presentations (like Deborah Maes)
Future conference dates/location thoughts:
Member Conference: 3rd weekend in January, with a separate breakout day for directors to deal with more logistical matters, but still allow members to attend.
Show Director Conference: August 2003 in Minneapolis.
A huge thanks was given to Toni for all of her incredible organization in planning and making the conference happen. Although Tonis Board term ends in September, she has offered to stay on in the meeting capacity because she believes it is so important.
Thanks, Toni!! Thanks, Larry!!
Notes prepared by Ardath Prendergast