By Cynthia Davis
The purpose of this study was to analyze art shows policy regarding booth fees. Shows were divided into one of three categories: shows where booth fees are due upon acceptance, shows that have some kind of refund policy, and shows with a policy that an application is a commitment to show. I was looking for any trends that seemed pertinent. It is not a definitive study and is only a sampling.
I took the top ranked 50 shows listed in the 1999 edition of ArtFair SourceBook, by Greg Lawler. I then added 25 other shows chosen at random from applications and the ArtFair SourceBook to equal a total of 75 shows in the study.
Of the top 50 ranked shows:
- 20 had booth fees due upon acceptance (40%)
- 15 had some type of refund policy (30%)
- 6 had both policies i.e. booth fee was not due until acceptance and there was also a time after than in which the artist may cancel and receive a refund (12%)
- 14 had a commitment to show policy (8%)
Of the total 75 shows analyzed:
- 35 had booth fees due upon acceptance (46.6%)
- 19 had refund policies (25.5%)
- 9 had both policies, i.e. booth fee was not due until acceptance and there was also a time after that in which the artist may cancel and receive a refund. (12%)
- 14 had a commitment to show policy (18.6%)
Of the shows analyzed there appears to be a trend toward shows asking for the booth fee after acceptance (40% of the top 50 shows and 46.6% of the total sample). 30% of the top 50 shows have a booth refund policy and 12% of the top 50 were very generous and did both. The shows that had a commitment to show were all in the top 50 shows, but was still less than 33% and when the total group is considered, it drops to 20%. That means of the total sample, 80% of the shows are committed to working with the artists on the booth fee issue. And 12% were generous enough to allow both policies!
Of the shows that allow artists to send in booth fees after being accepted, 32% allowed 4 weeks for this to happen and 23% allowed 3 weeks. Then they had 11 weeks until the show itself. It is obvious that many respectable shows do not find it a hardship in terms of funds nor time to accomplish the task of offering artists an equitable booth fee policy.
Of the top 50 shows in the country, 70% offer artists an equitable policy and 72% in the total sampling! Yet the 14 shows that have a commitment to show policy are all in the top 50.