March 20-21, 2000
Radisson Plaza Hotel
Art Festivals and Artists: Strengthening the Industry
The second NAIA Board/Art Festivals Conference convened at 9:00 am on March 20, 2000 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The theme for the conference was Art Festivals and Artists: Strengthening the Industry. To present a more useful record of the conference, this summary has been organized by topic rather than by the actual sequence of the discussio. Consequently, comments do not always appear in the same order that they were presented. They are cited to identify whether the conference facilitator, a director, or an artist presented the point. At the end of some topics is a list of unanswered questions. These questions were asked but not answered and can be viewed as food for thought or future conference material.
NAIA President Larry Oliverson opened the conference with a welcome to everyone. He described the mutually dependent and mutually beneficial relationship existing between festival directors and artists. We share a common goal, and we all benefit when the open exchange of ideas strengthens our industry. He expressed his appreciation to those who organized the conference in Orlando and to everyone in attendance.
Larry introduced Eva Soeka, the professional facilitator for the conference. Eva is an attorney, a practicing mediator, and the founder and current director of Marquette Universitys graduate program in dispute resolution. She has previously served as the Associate Dean of Marquette Universitys Law School, and has facilitated a variety of governmental, corporate and non-profit meetings.
Eva (facilitator) described her role during the conference:
- To promote open discussion between directors and artists
- To help clarify the issues
- To encourage candid collaboration
- To serve as a neutral party during highly interactive exchanges
She stressed the value of open discussion with the common goal of improving the work we are all doing together. She described the relationship between festival directors and artists as mutually interdependent. She asked that everyone have patience with one another and also with her as we talk about the issues in a meaningful and productive way. Her opening remarks were followed by the introduction of everyone in attendance, with each stating his/her reasons for coming to the conference.
Due to the complexities involved with this major topic, it has been divided into the following separate headings:
- The composition of the jury panel
- Artists serving on jury panels
- The selection of jurors
- Instructions to the jurors
- The mechanics of the jury
- The jurying process
- The feedback artists receive from the jurying process
The Composition of the Jury Panel
The facilitator asked two questions: How is the number of jurors determined? Is there an optimum number of jurors to included on the panel? The responses from directors regarding the number of jurors ranged from a single panel of three jurors to ten separate jury panels. Several shows reported that a panel of five jurors was utilized to ensure diversification and a “good” balance of opinions. (directors)
The directors discussed the criteria important in the composition of the jury panel:
- A director recommended including jurors from different regions of the country. This geographic diversity among the jurors plays a role in the show they select.
- To strengthen community relations, one director stated that one of her jurors is chosen because of specific community ties.
- On this panel consisting of five jurors, no less than two jurors are working artists; the others on the panel may have academic or curatorial experience. (director)
- It is desirable for members of the jury panel to have an art background rather than a “commercial” background (such as an area merchant). These persons with an art background can include gallery owners, academicians and artists. (artist)
Artists Serving on Jury Panels
A director asked the artists, How do you feel about artists serving on the jury panel?
The response was that the NAIA survey indicated that 84% of NAIA members wanted artists represented on juries. (artist)
Comments regaring artists serving on juries:
- Simply by the nature of what we do, by walking the shows, we are exposed to more good work, more excellence in art, than many other jurors are. (artist)
- Artists want to know that shows have confidence in them, and in their judgment to jury and select good work. (artist)
- Artists should not be able to “curate” the show and then participate in it. (director)
- An artist responded, I want to be included in a show with the artists who make the best work, regardless if one served as the juror. I trust an artist who makes good work to make good judgments in selecting a show.
- A director commented on an artist serving on a jury panel and subsequently participating in the show. When this occurs, directors are sometimes criticized because of the perceived conflict of interest to other artists and to the public. The analogy was made of a director serving on a grant panel: if the director has a personal relationship to an applicant, he removes himself from the process to ensure fairness.
- A director asked the question, Why is there the assumption that an artist would bring any more prejudice to the jurying than any other juror would?
- If an artist who is reinvited (such as an award winner) serves as a juror, this artist is not “in competition” for the available openings in the show. (director)
- Including participating artists on a jury panel does not give them the sole authority to decide the acceptances. On a panel of five, their voice is only one of many. It is influential in the outcome, but not dictatorial. (artists)
- Can artists be fair-minded enough to jury their peers? (facilitator) In response, a director shared his recent experience as chair of the jury panel (although he did not vote during the selection process). He said that during his experience of working with artists as jurors, he found them to be very fair-minded.
The Selection of Jurors
Several show directors mentioned that the NAIA list of jurors had been helpful in their selection of jurors.
Other comments regarding the selection of jurors:
- Artists appreciate the selection of jurors who feel the artwork of street artists is valuable and meaningful, rather than jurors who are cynical regarding the quality of artwork at outdoor art fairs. (artist)
- Directors should consider physical factors (such as heat or walking distances) when selecting the street jurors. These factors which do not play a role during the slide jurying may become critically important when judging the work on the show site. (artist)
- One director reported utilizing the NAIA jurors list as a first step, as well as other recommendations. The second step was to conduct a personal interview over the phone to get the right “balance” of juror perspectives. She stressed the importance of this interview in the juror selection process. (director)
- Sharing a “list” of specific jurors can be problematic if the names of specific jurors are “traded back and forth between show directors.” There may be a danger of the same jurors selecting several shows during a short period of time. (director)
- If a specific list of jurors’ names is developed, it needs to constantly grow, expand and change to be a useful resource. (director)
- If the reference list of jurors is large and if the database continues to grow, it can be a valuable resource and can be shared with directors on the Director’s Forum. (artist)
- A suggestion from a director was made to attend curated shows in areas where “we live and travel.” The curators of these shows can make excellent jurors.
- An artist asked the show directors if they would feel qualified to jury a show. The majority responded that they felt unqualified to do so. The question was raised, “Should shows have a minimum set of standards for jurors?” The facilitator asked if it would be helpful or appropriate to appoint a small subcommittee to address the criteria for an “ideal juror”?
Questions regarding the composition of the jury panel:
- Are there ideal jurors for all shows or does this depend on the unique nature of each show? (facilitator)
- Is there an advantage in balancing working artists with academicians or curators? (director)
- Are jurors’ credentials checked? (artist)
Instructions Given to Jurors
Some shows provide written instructions to the jurors; others do not. The facilitator asked if it would be beneficial for directors to compile or share this information.
Comments regarding instructions to the jurors:
- An artist raised the question, Would a standardized list of instructions to jurors be helpful? A director responded that jury selection and instruction is a very personal event.
- A director stated that instructions to the jurors are given personally, with artistic excellence as the primary criterion for selection.
- A director stated that the instructions to the jurors are written and given to the jurors to read before they agree to jury the show. The main criterion in these instructions is the show’s commitment to excellence.
- An artist asked the question of directors, Do you balance your show for your community? If you are looking for something other than excellence in art, please let the artists know your other criteria. If “salability” of the art is a criterion in selecting the show, please inform the artists. (artist)
- Directors were asked why applications ask for a price range, or for the prices of the works shown in the slides. If the criterion for selection is quality, why does the price matter? A director responded that price is used to help determine whether the art is original, one-of-a-kind work, rather than mass produced buy/sell work.
- An artist suggested that show directors provide their mission statements to jurors, as well as including them on their prospectuses.
- The question was asked if directors instruct their jurors to select a show with a certain “look” that appeals to their specific audience. A “balanced” show is more widely appealing to the public. A show that is more “cutting edge” has a narrower public appeal. (director)
The Mechanics of the Jury
The issue of fairness in jurying is one area that artists want to see addressed. Detailing the jury mechanics, both to the jurors selecting the work and to the artists submitting the work is very important. An artist asked that directors make their specific jurying processes available to artists by printing them in the show prospectuses. An artist added that applicants appreciate knowing exactly how the jurying process is handled before they apply to a show.
LENGTH OF TIME VIEWING THE SLIDES
Specific aspects of jurying mechanics were discussed: the first was the length of time jurors spend on each set of slides during the selection process. This length varied, depending on various factors, such as the number of jurors, the number of applicants, and the total time frame allotted for the jurying procedure. Artists emphasized that jurors need sufficient time to fully consider each set of slides.
JURORS’ DISCUSSION DURING THE SELECTION PROCESS
Some shows allow no discussion among jurors during the jurying. Other shows encourage discussion. How does juror discussion affect the results? (artist)
Comments presented regarding jurors’ discussion:
- A director stated that during the jurying at his show no discussion between jurors is permitted during the first round. The amount of discussion between jurors then increases with each subsequent round. He viewed this dialogue between jurors as valuable.
- Concerns were expressed that if one of the jurors is dominant or extremely outspoken, this juror can intimidate other jurors and dictate the tone for the show. (artist)
- No discussion is permitted at one show to ensure that each juror can fully exercise an independent opinion. (director)
READING A SLIDE DESCRIPTION DURING JURYING
An artist opened this discussion with a description of the slide jurying process for the American Craft Council shows. She detailed this procedure, stating that when the slides are projected, a short, minimal description of the work is read to the jurors. The artists provide the short descriptions of fifteen words or less on their applications. She added that reading this short description takes little or no extra time, and may help the jurors to conceptualize the artist’s process. It also serves to correct any inaccurate assumptions the jurors may make regarding the slides they are viewing.
Responses to this idea:
- A director stated that during their jurying, the artist information statement or a slide description was read, but only when the jurors asked for clarification or more information.
- An artist stated that he felt all applicants would appreciate this reading of a brief description.
- A director stated that the show applications were not available during jurying so it would be difficult to read this description.
- An artist stressed that having this slide description read for each and every applicant helped to eliminate any incorrect assumptions that the jurors may have.
- A director stated that booth slides helped jurors to determine the scale of an artist’s work, without a description being read. An artist responded that in the jewelry category a booth slide is not a good tool to determine the scale of the work.
- An artist added that the reading of a short description could be done concisely, without adding complication or confusion.
- A director stated that a brief description of less than fifteen words to be read for each application during the preliminary run-through round might be valuable to the jurors. This might also ensure that all entries are given sufficient time for careful evaluation.
- A director commented that she had found the artist information statement required as part of the show application to be extraordinarily useful. She added that she could see the value of reading this statement (or a similar short description) for every applicant to ensure uniformity and fairness.
- The facilitator clarified the difference between this short slide description (to be read for each applicant) and the Artist Information Statement (detailing the artist’s process.) Both are beneficial, but each serves a different purpose.
The Jurying Process
An artist emphasized that making all shows “cookie-cutter,” uniform models of one another has never been a goal of the NAIA. The NAIA welcomes and appreciates the unique qualities and characteristics of every show. Although each show may have its own jurying procedure, it is important that the jury process be as fair and impartial as possible.
Several show directors shared their unique slide jurying processes. Each show had its own jurying model, some using a numerical scoring system, and others using a different evaluation method. A handout detailing the various jurying and judging processes for seven outdoor shows (compiled in 1998 by Shary Brown, Executive Director of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, and David Pinson, former Executive Director of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival) was distributed for informational purposes.
A summary of the discussion regarding the jurying process:
- The number of jurors on the jury panel ranged from three to five.
- Various numerical scoring systems to evaluate the applicants were presented.
- An artist commented that the American Craft Council consulted a mathematician to advise them on the best range of numbers to use for the optimum scoring results. The mathematician suggested a 1-7 scale, using all the numbers.
- The elimination of the middle number in the scoring scale (such as number 4 on a scale of 1 to 7) forces jurors to score high or low and not use a middle or “average” score. (artist and facilitator)
- One show uses laptop computers for each juror to enter scores. This greatly expedites the scoring tabulation. (director)
- A director encouraged jurors to write comments for each applicant along with the score.
- Several directors project an extra slide, depicting the applicant’s number, so jurors can easily correlate the slides they are viewing with the correct applicant’s number on the scoring sheet.
- One show does not use a numerical scoring system, but a series of “rounds.” During the first round, a consensus from all five jurors was necessary to eliminate an applicant; during every subsequent round, a consensus vote from the jury panel was needed for an applicant to remain in contention. These “rounds” continued until the desired number of artists for the show was reached.
- A director shared her unique jurying process: Nine separate jury panels evaluate the different media categories over an extended period of time. Some members of each jury panel serve two-year terms to provide continuity. An Acceptance Committee views the results of each panel and makes the final decisions regarding the artists in the show.
The Feedback Artists Receive from the Jurying Process
According to the NAIA survey, the majority of artists would like more feedback from the jurying process than simply a yes/no answer. (artist) The facilitator asked show directors whether it was feasible to communicate additional information, such as jury scores or comments, to the applicants after the jurying is completed.
Comments regarding the feedback artists receive after jurying:
- If jurors have a method to jot down comments, can these comments be communicated to the artists? (artist)
- After rejection letters are mailed, artists call and want to know the jury scores. This is a nightmare for show directors. (director)
- A director stated that even though he offers to provide jury scores to artists if they supply an SASE, very few artists request this information. (director)
- Several show directors commented that they do not use a numerical scoring system, making it difficult to provide efficient feedback to artists.
- A director detailed her jurying process of separating into media categories and having ten separate jury panels. During this jury evaluation, both numerical and more subjective criteria are utilized. Because of these complexities, it would be impractical to give numerical feedback to artists.
- A director reported that out of 2300 applicants, only thirty requested jury scores. He stated that these artists were more interested in how far they progressed in the subsequent jury rounds than in actual scores.
USE OF MEDIA CATEGORIES
The following points were cited as positive reasons to have media categories:
- Media categories give the show order (director)
- Media categories give the jurors parameters (director)
- The use of media categories enables jurors to view similar works in the same grouping, rather than view vastly dissimilar works together (director)
- Media categories help to educate the public (director)
- Media categories may be helpful award criteria (director)
Other comments regarding the use of media categories:
- Expanding the list of media categories, rather than reducing the list, makes it easier for jurors to view the work with less confusion. (director)
- The results from the NAIA survey indicated that 66% of artists wanted traditional category definitions. [16% wanted only 2-D and 3-D designations while 18% were undecided(editor).] (artist)
- Having categories printed in the show catalogue serves the needs of the audience that often use the category to search for a specific artist’s work. (director)
- Categories serve different purposes; one purpose during the jurying process, and a separate purpose during the informational process. (artist)
- A director suggested that only 2-D and 3-D awards be designated, rather than awards for each category, so that mediocre categories are not automatically rewarded.
- The use of the computer category was cited as an example where a category label helps to educate the public regarding this new art form. (artist)
The following concerns over the use of media categories were expressed:
- Several artists expressed concerns that the use of categories may drive the awards, and that quotas for categories may unfairly dictate the acceptances.
- An artist asked, How many shows use some type of quota system to select their artists by category? Several show directors responded affirmatively.
- An artist asked if the quota per category is based on the total number of applicants for that category.
- A director stated that she did not use quotas to determine categories. The jury scores were tabulated and then the show selected from the scores. However, a strong correlation emerged between the number of entries in a given category and the number accepted in that category (if 20% of the show applications were in painting, then approximately 20% of accepted artists were painters).
- A director asked if the real problem artists have with categories might be that the use of categories plays an unfair role in driving the acceptances.
- Artists sometimes want to move beyond category boundaries in their efforts to grow creatively. Category definitions may limit this growth. (artist)
- The problem of artists submitting multiple entries with the same slides was raised. A director stated that the jury panel is quick to recognize this, and frowns on this practice. Another director stated that she viewed all entries when they were sent to her and was aware when artists attempted to duplicate multiple entries with the same slides. An artist added that this problem can be addressed in the prospectus by prohibiting the same body of slides to be submitted more than once.
The following questions regarding the use of media categories were raised:
- Do most directors have quotas per category? (artist)
- How are categories used in the jury process? (artist)
- Who determines the correct category for an artist’s work. Does the artist alone make this determination? Do artists at times place their work into a category solely because of better “odds” of acceptance? (artist)
- Do artists want more or fewer categories? (director)
- Is the use of categories helpful for the viewing audience? (director)
- Should category definitions be consistent from show to show? (artist)
- Should artists be limited to one entry per category? Should artists be limited to one entry per show? (artist)
THE MIXED MEDIA CATEGORY
The mixed media category was specifically addressed due to the tremendous growth in this category in the last few years. Consensus of both artists and directors was that this category might be getting out of control.
Specific comments during this discussion:
- The intermixture of types of work in this category is confusing to the jurors. (director)
- Some artists enter their work in the mixed media category merely as a way to increase their odds of being accepted. At one time, the mixed media category was one of the weakest categories, and artists recognized the advantage of entering a category that was less competitive. (artists)
- As the entries in this category become stronger, this problem will sort itself out. (artist)
- A director asked if some of these problems could be avoided by developing a clear definition for the mixed media category in the prospectus.
- Certain practices are allowed in the mixed media category (such as using pre-made furniture) that may not be permitted in the “traditional categories.” (artist)
- Artists have used the mixed media category in an attempt to enter a show twice, sometimes with only slight modifications in the two entries. (director)
THE COMPUTER AS AN ARTISTIC MEDIUM
Several directors attending the conference stated that their shows include a computer art category. The following NAIA guideline regarding a definition for the computer art category was stated: If a work already exists (as a painting, drawing, photograph, intaglio or relief print) and a photocopy or digital impression is made, that copy is a second generation or reproductive image: a “reproduction.” A first generation (original) digital print is made directly from a newly created digital file in which the computer is used to generate or manipulate images that differ substantially from preexisting examples. (artist)
The facilitator asked if Kenneth Huff (a digital artist) would collaborate with Ardath Prendergast (Executive Director, Artscape, Atlanta) and Bruce Storey (Executive Director, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Denver) to develop terminology for the digital category.
Summary of the comments expressed regarding the use of the computer as an artistic medium:
- One artist expressed a preference for the term digital art or computer art rather than computer-generated art to define the category.
- Having a separate digital category may help to provide a specific context for jurors to consider the work, and for the public to become more educated regarding the work. (artist)
- The importance of selecting a juror (or jurors) who are knowledgeable about the digital category was mentioned. (director)
- Educational efforts regarding the digital category need to be developed for the jurors, for the other participating artists and for the viewing public. (director and artists)
- The artist information statement was mentioned as a helpful tool to educate the public about the creation of digital art. (director)
- The point was made that in the computer category, the only way to produce a final product is to use technologies (such as giclees or ink-jet prints) that can also be used to produce reproductions. When such technologies are disallowed in a show’s rules, computer artists face a unique dilemma. (artist)
- An artist stated that some artists might have the perception that the use of the computer equates to ease of production, giving computer artists an unfair advantage. (artist)
- If other artists are objecting to the inclusion of a digital category solely on the basis of economic or marketing reasons, such objections are inappropriate. (artist)
- The requirement that artists print their own work may not be feasible in the computer art category due to the expense of the printing equipment. (artist)
Concerns expressed during the discussion of the use of the computer as an artistic medium:
- The blurring of category definitions was discussed, when photographers utilize computer technology in their creative process. (artist)
- Concerns were expressed regarding the use of digital technology as only a “copy machine.” (director)
- Computers are being utilized as legitimate artistic tools in many disciplines, from weaving to sculpture. It may be important to ask the artist whether the computer is the main tool in the creative process or merely a means of assistance in the creation process. (artist)
- The point was made that shows sometimes receive complaints from other artists over the inclusion of a computer art category. Can NAIA serve to educate artists about the importance of including a computer category? (director and artist)
- A director stated that our shows are our works of art, and including experimental (or digital) work may be risky to the show’s reputation. We need to be secure before the show begins about what we are getting. (director)
Questions generated during the discussion of the use of the computer as an artistic medium:
- How important is it for shows to have a digital art category? (director)
- How do shows work to contact computer artists to have a larger and stronger pool of applicants in this category? (director)
- How do shows work to educate the viewing public about this technology? (director)
- How do shows evaluate this category? (director)
- Should artists state whether they are using computer technologies in the creation of their art, and describe how they are using these technologies? (director)
- What is the best way to address the specific issues regarding the use of the computer as an art tool? For example, can ink jet technology be considered both original art (when used in the computer category) and non-original art (when used to create reproductions)? (artist and director)
- Will these technological questions create enforcement difficulties for show directors? (director)
- Some photographers are choosing to use the computer as an additional tool to perfect their artistry, and are blurring the lines between the computer and the photography category. How should such “blendings” be juried? Does this give them an unfair advantage? (artist)
- How do we take into consideration the public and their acceptance of digital art? (director)
THE ARTIST’S INTENT
The topic of the use of the computer as an artistic tool generated discussion about “the artist’s intent.” In instances where a show rule must be interpreted, show directors sometimes must try to evaluate the artist’s intent. (director) They must try to determine whether the process in question is a means of creative expression or primarily a way to circumvent a show rule. An example: An artist who uses the term “hand-embellished reproduction” to indicate original art. (artist)
Comments generated during the discussion of the artist’s intent:
- A director cited his desire to represent the best available art to the public, not the best commercialism.
- The mission of outdoor festivals is to bring the optimum aesthetic opportunity to the viewer, not the best shopping opportunity. (artist)
- A director asked. How can we measure whether the artist’s intent is creative or commercial?
- Asking this question, “At what point in the process does the artist’s creative input cease?” might be helpful in determining intent. (artist)
- An artist commented, we are at a crossroads of removing the artist’s hand from the process of making art. This is hard to understand and difficult to accept. We work to find a way to begin to understand this impact. (artist)
- A helpful question to ask when evaluating the artist’s intent, “Is the artist utilizing technologies to help explore creative parameters or to produce work which fools or deceives the public?” (director)
- Can an artist’s intent be measured during the jury process rather than at the show? (artist)
- Including working artists on the jury panel can be a way to help determine an artist’s intent. (artist)
- The artist’s intent can more easily be determined in the artists’ booths during the show hours than from the slides. (artist)
- An artist suggested that in an ideal art show world, we would have fewer rules and better judgment.
THE SHOW APPLICATION
A sample NAIA Art Festival Slide Application model (first draft, September, 1999) was provided in the conference packet for informational purposes. The facilitator suggested that the directors give feedback on this first draft to Larry by May 1, 2000. [Extended to May 30, 2000 (editor)]
A director expressed concerns that if a “universal” slide application form is adopted and artists no longer need to read the application before applying, will they read any of our specific rules in the prospectus before applying?
An artist responded that the NAIA’s intention was never to replace the specific show rules and regulations in the prospectus with a “one-set-of-rules-for-all” approach. The intent of a “universal application” was to have more consistency in the manner that slides are described and labeled (perhaps giving artists more time to read the specific prospectus for each show). (artist)
Information to be Included on the Application
Several key items were emphasized as particularly important to artists when completing a show application. Artists stressed that when these items are easy to locate in the application form, the application process is made smoother and more accurate. The items included:
- A checklist of all required information to return with the completed application
- A calendar of deadlines
- The notification date for acceptances and rejections to be mailed
- A box highlighting pertinent information
- A “make checks payable to” line
- A format for how the slides will be viewed (example: five slides in a single, horizontal line in numerical order)
Additional comments regarding the Show Application:
- An artist added that if a show has unusual requirements, such as a booth photograph instead of a booth slide, that the show make certain to note these requirements in an obvious manner. It is better, however, to avoid any nonstandard requirements.
- Directors were asked to let the artists know who the jurors are, as far in advance as possible, and to list the jurors in the prospectus when feasible. (artists)
Downloading Applications from Websites
Many show directors have their applications available to download from their website. One show director utilized the telephone voice mail to instruct artists how to download the application. This director reported that this reduced the number of requests for applications by mail.
The facilitator asked if two artists, Michael Hamilton and Kenneth Huff and two directors, Shary Brown and Bruce Story would collaborate to discuss downloading options to share with show directors at the IFEA event in New Orleans in September.
The following suggestions regarding the downloading of applications were made:
- If artists wish to download the application directly from the website they can ask the show director to be removed from the mailing list to eliminate unnecessary mailings. (artist)
- Publications (such as Sunshine Artist and The Crafts Report) can print a list of shows and their websites for artists who want to download the application. Directors may want to contact these publications directly. (facilitator)
- Directors may want to include downloading instructions on the prospectus itself so artists can share this information with colleagues. (artist)
- A director suggested that shows be careful not to make it harder for those artists who are not familiar with computer terms or procedures to apply to the show.
Additional comments regarding show websites:
- An artist suggested that the posting of a list of participating artists on the show’s website is a helpful tool for artists who may be considering this show in the future.
- The posting of the list of exhibitors for the past two years on the show’s website is a tremendous indication of the strength and quality of a show. (artist)
Ninety-nine percent of respondents to the NAIA survey stated the importance of shows enforcing their rules. (artist) The NAIA encourages shows to establish policies that are simple, reasonable and enforceable while still being fair and respectful. (artist)
Comments regarding rule enforcement issues:
- The one thing directors can do to make certain artists read their rules is enforce their rules. (artist)
- The timely nature of enforcing rules was stressed. When rules are not enforced right away, problems escalate. (director and artist)
- A director stated the importance of artists complying with specific rules, such as specific parking requirements.
- To help shows enforce their rules more effectively, one director asked that artists use good judgment to separate operational complaints from rule violations.
- When rule-violations occur, address the major violators first. Have specific consequences for rule-violators. (artist)
- Directors can take action against rule-violators, but they are often threatened with lawsuits. They must be very careful about justification before they ask an artist to leave a show. (director)
- The Artists Information Statement is a real aid in enforcement issues. (director)
- Using peer jurors to view every category is a good way to monitor what is being shown. (artist)
- During the show hours, when fatigue and tension are critical factors, it is especially important to have the show’s policies clearly stated. (facilitator)
- If artists are aware of a potential problem before the show begins, contact the director before the show to alert him/her. (director)
- Enforcing the rules stop violators faster than anything else. (artist)
- One show states in its application, We have the reputation of enforcing our rules. Such news travels fast through the artists’ network. (artist)
- Having separate channels (or committees) to manage operational issues and ethical complaints is important in order for either to be handled efficiently. Let artists know specifically who to contact for which problems. (director, artist, and facilitator)
- A director asked for some compassion in the enforcement of the rules; enforce the rules within reason. (director)
- The question was raised, How do we handle individual cases and still maintain the rules? Can rules be both flexible and firm? (director)
Complaints Against Rule Violators
- One director detailed a very specific mechanism to handle complaints of rule violators. The artist who files the complaint is asked to sign a document. The confidentiality of this artist is protected, and the show has a legal foothold to take action. With problems of misrepresentation, there is an adjudication process to ensure fairness to all artists, where experts may be asked to view the work on site. The written artist information statement may also prove helpful in these circumstances. This director stressed that all allegations need to be verified. Directors need accountability from the artists who report rule-violators.
- Directors need to talk directly with artists suspected of rule violations and communicate their concerns. Don”t wait until the show is over. (artist and director)
- Because directors are busy and stressed on the first day of the show, they ask that artists exercise patience and respect when making a complaint. One director commented that there may be times where directors seem unresponsive, when they are actually taking careful steps to gather the necessary information to address a complaint. Fairness and thoroughness are critical issues.
- A director asked artists to check out “rumors” first-hand before reporting complaints.
- It is helpful to let artists know how complaints will be handled, and to inform them of the steps in this process. (artist)
- It is also important to follow-up with artists who file a complaint to let them know how their complaint was addressed. (artist)
- An important component of enforcement is the development of an “appeals” process for an artist charged with rule violation. One show gives an artist 90 days to respond to a formal complaint. (director and artist)
Improving Ways to Identify Rule Violators
- Artists need to report rule violators. Most shows have a procedure to handle these complaints. (directors)
- The question was raised, What disservice are directors performing if they take action against artists who are falsely accused of rule violations? We may have the power to remove rule-violators, but we need founded claims to take action. (director)
- Show directors can assist in eliminating “rumors” by communicating with the artists. (artist)
- The use of a viewing committee who compares the quality of the work being shown in the booth with the quality of slides submitted can be of critical importance. Retaining the slides until the conclusion of the show is also important (artist and directors)
- The facilitator asked if it is more efficient to have designated committees handle complaints rather than the directors.
Addressing the importance and value of the booth slide in evaluating the work, one director commented that at her show, the jurors weigh the booth slide heavily in the scoring system. Several shows retain and refer to the booth slide for monitoring the actual presentation of work during the show.
Comments regarding the Booth Slides:
- The booth slide is a visual part of the artist’s contract. The work shown in the booth slide should be representative of the work displayed in the booth during the show. (artist) This may prevent the artist who juries into a show with three major pieces, and then comes to the show with shelves of small production items that comprise 80% of the booth inventory.
- One director commented that the booth slide is not used during the selection process, but only used for verification of the work presented at the show site.
The NAIA survey results have shown that 97% of artists want booth fees to be due after notification of acceptance. Artists have noticed (and appreciated) that many shows have made this requested change.
Comments regarding booth fees:
- Having fees due with the application is particularly difficult for beginning artists. (artist)
- A director asked, Who takes the responsibility to locate artists who fail to respond to acceptance notices or send the required booth fee checks because they are “on the road”? (director) An artist responded that artists need to take responsibility to contact shows when they are out of town for long periods of time.
The NAIA has requested that shows develop a reasonable refund policy. (artist) Several artists asked the directors to address their refund policy not only for the unexpected emergency situations, but also for those artists who must apply to more than one show on the same date.
The facilitator asked if there was a consensus among the directors to develop language for a standard refund policy, or to provide feedback to Larry regarding their specific refund policies. Consensus among the directors was that refund policies should be developed and written by each specific show to best meet its own individual needs.
Comments regarding Refund Policies:
- An artist pointed out the real circumstances that many artists face: because artists are not guaranteed entry into a given show, they must sometimes apply to more than one show on the same date. She asked that shows try to understand this dilemma and the special hardship created when booth fees are not refunded.
- An artist commented that artists may be more willing to take risks with long-distance shows if fees are not due until acceptance, thus giving artists the opportunity to plan a series of long-distance shows.
- An artist made the point that last-minute cancellation of a show is not professional behavior on the artist’s part. A second artist added that shows with a solid refund policy extend a professional courtesy to artists; artists should demonstrate professional behavior in return.
Category Advisors and Artist Advisory Panels
The NAIA encourages shows to utilize artist advisory panels as reference personnel. These advisory panels can be comprised of local artists and experts from the community, or of regional artists who participate in their shows. One artist polled the directors to determine how many utilized artist advisory panels from their communities. Only a few directors responded affirmatively.
The NAIA has also established a National Category Advisory Panel, comprised of artists who are experts in their categories. The purpose of these artist advisors is to provide objective information regarding their respective categories when show directors have questions. It is important to note that these category advisors are not to function as enforcers of show rules or policies, but as objective reference people to answer technical questions. This panel might be particularly useful to shows that do not have their own artist advisory committees.
Several artists from the National Category Advisory Panel were in attendance at the conference. When asked to share their experiences as artist advisors, most responded that they have yet to be contacted by show directors with questions.
Advantages of utilizing artist advisory panels were shared:
- A director said she relied heavily on her local panel of artist advisors for information and input. She meets with her advisors regularly for open discussion, and has learned a great deal from them. Artists are the best teachers, she added.
- An unexpected benefit of utilizing local artist advisors is that they also serve as advocates for the festival in the community, and with their artist colleagues. They can also provide feedback from the artists to the director. (director)
- A director commented that she received more input from her local artist advisory panel than from other show directors. She keeps in contact with her advisors through mailings, emails and phone conversations.
- An artist said that serving on a regional artist advisory panel helped him to see the show director’s perspective, and understand the “bigger picture”.
- Artist advisors can also serve as an important liaison with the public. (artist)
- Artist advisors often demonstrate a strong commitment to their local show and a willingness to be of service when needed. (artist)
- Some shows use a group of working artists as a reference panel during the jurying to answer the specific questions of the jurors. (directors)
- At one show, the panel of local artist advisors (selected by the director) attends the jurying, and sits behind the jurors. The advisors answer questions the jurors pose regarding the media. The advisors also score the slides; these scores are not used to select the show, but to determine the order of the wait-list artists.
- Artist advisors can serve in an intermediary role for artists with specific complaints who may not be comfortable making the complaints to the show director.
Questions regarding Artist Advisors:
- The question was raised, Should artist advisors be allowed to participate in the specific show they are advising? (director)
- A director asked if it would be appropriate to use an artist advisor to help determine if a jeweler was selling manufactured buy/sell merchandise. An artist responded that peer jurors might be better utilized in this instance, or a “viewing committee” who could consult with a local jewelry expert.
The NAIA encourages shows to create an ombudsman methodology to deal with artists’ complaints both during and after the show. (artist)
The facilitator presented this Scandinavian concept of the Ombudsman as an independent, impartial and confidential investigator. She spoke briefly about the historic roots of the ombudsman and distributed a handout, The American Bar Association Revises Ombudsman Policy.
There was a discussion concerning the unique problems that can exist with artistic collaborations. The majority of directors indicated that they have encountered some degree of difficulty with collaborations. Collaborations are intended to be true artistic collaborations rather than business collaborations. The specific nature of the collaboration (the creative contribution of each artist in the collaborative team) needs to be carefully detailed. It was noted during the discussion that the role of a collaborator is different from that of an assistant. A collaborator participates in the creative decisions and processes, while an assistant does not.
Discussion also centered on whether both artists in the collaboration should be required to attend the show.
Comments from the discussion regarding artistic collaborations:
- A statement detailing the specific nature of the collaboration must be required. This statement needs to describe the creative contribution and involvement of each artist. (director)
- The Artists Information Statement should detail the separate roles and creative involvement of each collaborator. If this statement is required with the application, this information is readily available to jurors and show directors. (artist)
- A director stated that if two people create the work, then two people must be present at the show.
- An artist explained that this requirement could be an economic hardship on artists that must travel long distances to attend (extra airfare) and an emotional hardship if one member of the team is the primary child-care provider. (artist)
- A director asked that artists who work in collaboration contact the show and explain the specific hardships created by the requirement that both artists attend. This can be managed on a case-by-case basis. (director)
Concerns regarding artistic collaborations:
- Feedback from show directors indicates that the number of collaborative entries have increased dramatically since the rules against proxy exhibitors have been strengthened. (artist)
- There is the very real possibility that some applicants are only listing their works as “collaborations” in order to participate in two shows on the same date, having one person on the “collaborative team” at each show. (director)
- One director asked, In instances when only one of the collaborators can attend the show, is it feasible to have the attending artist sign an agreement stating that the other collaborator will not participate in a second show on the same date?
- Some of the concerns regarding collaborations can be addressed by carefully defining artistic collaborations in the prospectus, and by asking artists to specifically detail the nature of their collaboration on their application. (director)
- At times, it is hard for show directors to distinguish between mass production and artistic collaboration. (director)
- The facilitator asked show directors to clearly distinguish between these two very separate issues in the discussion: 1) the value of true artistic collaborations and the unique circumstances they present; 2) the topic of mass production which is a completely separate and different concern.
- Do some artists include their assistants as collaborators even if the assistants play no part in the creative process? (artist)
- Both artists and directors need to focus on the unique nature of our venue: the public comes to the show to meet the artist and to buy from the artist who creates the work. Is this tenet significantly altered if only one of the collaborators is present at the show? Is the relationship between the public and the artist changed if only one collaborator is present? (artist)
- Agents listed as collaborators clearly violate the true spirit of the venue. (artist)
- Is there a limit to the number of artists that can be members of a “collaborative team”? Does an entry with five or six artists listed as members of a “collaborative team” violate the spirit of the venue? (director)
- There seems to be some perception that directors “frown” on artists who work as a collaborative team. Is this an accurate perception? (artist)
- If shows require both artists to attend the show, will this create an undue hardship for two artists who legitimately work as a creative team but need one person to remain at home with a child in school? (artist)
- It sometimes seems as though more artists are using the “collaboration” entry to circumvent show rules rather than to truly merge talents together to create great art. (director)
- Perhaps this issue cannot be resolved, stated one artist, but please do not make rules that harm true artistic collaborators.
THE ARTIST INFORMATION STATEMENT
The NAIA has encouraged shows to require artists to post an Artist Information Statement. The intent of the Artist Information Statement is to identify, inform and educate. As an educational tool and conversation-starter, it helps to ensure that the viewer understands what is displayed, who created it, and how it was produced.(artist) The NAIA survey results were primarily positive regarding the benefits of the statement.
Many directors and artists commented on the advantages of the Artist Information Statement:
- A director responded, Our show has used the Artist Information Statement as a part of our application for two years, and it has been extremely helpful with the jurying, as well as with enforcement issues.
- An artist asked this director, Why does it have to be written on the application rather than enclosed as a separate, typed page? The artist explained that it expedites application procedures for artists, if the same one-page format is used for all shows.
- A director stated that although the Statements were seldom used during the slide jurying process, there were a few instances when they proved very helpful to the jurors. He recognized these statements as legitimate and valuable resources.
- A Statement might be particularly helpful in the computer art category to both the jurors and to the viewing public. It opens a new door into our digital art education. (artist)
- The Artist Information Statement is important when considering collaborative entries because it details the specific creative involvement of each artist. (director and artist)
- The Artist Information Statement is one more way to help eliminate fraud or misrepresentation. (artist)
- If the Statement is to be used during the jurying to provide additional information to the jurors, the explanation of this positive use to artists makes them happier to comply. (artist)
- The Statement not only serves promotional and educational purposes, it also enhances and enriches our show. (director)
SECURITY AND SAFETY
The personal security and safety of artists during shows and enroute to/from shows is of primary importance. At the recent Winter Park town meeting, the increased incidence of robberies and theft at Florida shows was a major topic of discussion. (artist)
Comments regarding issues of safety and security:
- Robbery and theft incidents have increased alarmingly at Florida art shows, and are rising across the nation. Jewelers Security Alliance reports a rising incidence of crime against artists nationwide. (artist)
- An artist asked for shows to make better use of police security.
- The suggestion was made to use raised platforms or pick-up trucks to elevate police and security personnel above the crowds. Such positioning gives them greater visibility and helps people locate them when emergencies occur. (artist)
- Jewelers are especially attractive targets for thieves. Even armed escorts are no guarantee of safety. Please look out for us, one artist asked.
- Be as proactive as possible. Take preventative measures to stop crimes before they occur. (artist)
- Artists that require a great deal of time to pack up after a show may be particularly vulnerable to thieves. (artist)
- Artists are much more likely to park in a designated area if security is provided. This is especially true if overnight security is provided. (director)
- Including emergency contact information on the reverse side of the artist’s name badge can be life saving. Print the specific phone number to call for emergencies (check with the local authorities to determine the specific procedure; in some cases this number may not be 911). Also print a show emergency number (directors note that this must be a no-fail number, accessible at all times). Also include the main festival office number, and the street address for the show. In the event of an emergency, immediate access to this information is critical. (director)
- At a recent craft show, jewelers pooled their funds to hire a Brink”s Armored Vehicle to deliver their unsold inventory and receipts to their homes. (artist)
- All artists, but particularly jewelers, are most vulnerable during set-up and take down times. Additional security personnel are helpful during these periods. (artist)
- All artists can be targets. Thieves often check out prices in the booths, making the assumption that if artists have high prices, those artists have a lot of money. (artist)
- If artists give their cell phone numbers on their applications, show officials could call them immediately in their booths in the event of an emergency. (artist)
- If artists make independent security arrangements, such as hiring a guard, please let the show directors know about this arrangement. (director)
- Don”t let security become one of your low-priority issues. If you do, it won”t be a bottom issue for very long, spoke one artist.
The NAIA has become aware of two recent incidents where artists have been forced to cancel shows due to serious illnesses. Subsequently, these artists learned that the shows refused to refund their booth fees. Because of such incidents, the NAIA is requesting that shows develop a compassion policy toward artists experiencing extreme personal situations.
Comments regarding a compassion policy:
- Where does the “compassion policy” end? What if such a clause causes me to have numerous cancellations right before the show? (director)
- Is it appropriate for directors to ask artists for “proof” of the hardship, such as a medical report or a copy of a death certificate? (director)
- Directors may want to state in their compassion policy that refunds will be given if the artist provides substantive documentation of the emergency situation. (artist)
- An artist pointed out that often times when a person experiences a medical emergency, the medical bills could be overwhelming. If allowances can be made to alleviate any of this financial burden (such as refunding the booth fee or allowing a spouse to “stand-in” for the artist), the artists are genuinely grateful.
- A director encouraged shows to use common sense and basic humanity to guide them in making these determinations.
- An artist related her experience of having her van stolen while full of inventory for several shows. She was forced to cancel a series of shows and was unable to get her booth fees refunded. She said she would have been very willing to send police reports to the directors as documentation.
- Many artists are uninsured or underinsured and this can compound an emergency situation. (artist)
- When artists are forced to cancel a show due to an emergency situation, they not only lose the income from the show, but sometimes they also lose the opportunity to be invited the following year. (artist)
- A director stated her policy is to extend an invitation for the following year to artists who must cancel because of emergency situations. She added that the artists must state the reason for the cancellation, and some artists choose not to disclose this information.
- An artist responded to the directors, Don”t be embarrassed to ask artists for appropriate documentation in these instances. It keeps everything on a professional level.
- If artists find themselves in an emergency situation in route to a show, such as having a blown engine, it is only common courtesy to call and update the show director. (artist)
- Regardless of the reason, if an artist is unable to keep the commitment to show, call the director with this information. (director)
- Consensus was expressed that communication and compassion need to be extended in both directions, between directors and artists.
- The NAIA will advocate that artists make prudent use of compassion policies.(artist)
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
The NAIA has asked that social security numbers not be required on show applications. Artists have expressed concerns that social security numbers can be misplaced or misused.
Comments regarding social security numbers on applications:
- In one instance, artists’ social security numbers were inadvertently posted on the show’s webpage. An artist reported that she discovered her SSN posted on the webpage, along with those of several other artists. She called the show to alert them of their mistake and the numbers were removed the next day, but the incident heightened her concerns .
- In the event of awards, artists can supply their SSN before receiving their award money. (artist)
ATTRACTING BEGINNING ARTISTS
One of the areas of concern expressed in the NAIA survey was the aging population of art festival artists. The facilitator asked for suggestions to encourage younger artists to participate in the art fair venue:
- The initial investment (in a display system, materials and supplies, entry fees and travel expenses) is prohibitive for many beginning artists. Other art venues, such as galleries, do not require these “up front” costs. (artist)
- Our business on the street requires that artists possess both passion and security. Younger artists may have the passion, but they also have more insecurities. (artist)
- We serve as the best ambassadors for the business by our willingness to talk about our profession with younger artists. (artist)
- Various programs that offer “special help” to beginning artists were shared. The Magic City (Birmingham, AL) show offers lower booth fees to young artists. Artscape (Atlanta) did not require booth slides from artists who had never exhibited at an outdoor fair. This show also arranged to have a photographer on site to take booth slides for these beginning artists. (artist and director)
The results from the 1999 NAIA survey revealed a high frustration level by the majority of artists over escalating requests for donations of artwork. The large majority of artists do contribute (both artwork and money) to charities and non-profit institutions, but find donations of artwork a large problem because of the current tax laws.
Comments from the art auction discussion:
- According to the 1999 NAIA survey, 91% of artists donate work to organizations or art fairs every year. (artist)
- Artists reported an average of six requests annually from art fairs for donations. (artist)
- Certain shows require both a booth fee and a donation of artwork. Seventy-three percent of artists in the survey felt that this requirement is unacceptable. (artist)
- Several artists expressed the sentiment that donation works are not “equitable” from artist to artist. Some works require more time, more cost in materials and more artist involvement than others do.
- The majority of auctioned artworks often sell far below their market value. This fact undermines the prices that artists establish for the work in their booths. (artists)
- It is disheartening for artists to have the buyers of their auction pieces come into their booths to brag about their “bargain buys.” (artist)
- A director commented that her show does not request donation work from artists. Such requests would contradict the show’s primary mission of supporting artists and valuing the work that they create. To ask for a work of art without compensating the artist runs contrary to this philosophy.
- A director reported that community non-profit groups sometimes solicit art donations from artists during the show event. These solicitations are made without the knowledge or authorization of the show director. She asked that artists inform her of such solicitations.
- An artist commented that he gets so many requests for donations that it is truly overwhelming. To say no is viewed as being uncooperative.
- The survey results indicate that the majority of artists feel pressure to donate work even when their participation is voluntary. They have concerns that refusal to participate may influence their future acceptance chances. (artist)
- A show director described her show’s auction procedure: Artists are asked to donate a work to be sold at a fundraiser auction held at a later date. No artist is obligated to participate. Every piece is sold at the valued price. This auction serves as a promotion for the show.
Both artists and directors are becoming increasingly aware of the use of new technologies to enhance the slides of artwork.
Questions regarding the enhancement of slides:
- Digital technologies are being utilized as a tool to enhance artists’ slides. Does this enhancement make it more difficult to judge the quality of the work itself? (artist)
- How can one determine the degree of this “enhancement”? Are the changes only subtle adjustments to the background, or major manipulations of the work itself?
- Can jurors be instructed about such enhancements? Can these enhancements be detected? (artists)
- An artist gave the example of a designer who conceptualized an entire body of work using the computer and digital technologies. The work itself did not exist, but an “image” of the work was created. This prompted the questions: At what point does the digital manipulation of slides cross the line into misrepresentation? When does digital enhancement become digital fakery?
- Is the issue of slide enhancement an enforceable issue or does it become a moot point? (director)
Concerns were raised about artists who intentionally copy another artist’s style of work. An example was given: An artist’s assistant works under the teacher”s tutelage for many years, then begins to copy the teacher”s style and applies to shows to compete against the teacher. The jurors decide that the two bodies of work are very similar, and choose to accept only one they choose the assistant”s work and the teacher”s work is rejected. Discussion regarding the ethics and fairness of this example, as well as other examples followed.
Comments regarding Artistic Plagiarism:
- An artist asked if directors would like to be informed of these situations by the artist who feels he/she is being “copied.” The response from the directors was affirmative.
- A director mentioned that it is unfortunate that artists cannot copyright their styles.
- Artists on the juries can help to identify an artist who may be plagiarizing another artist’s style. (artist)
- This is an ethical dilemma between artists and not a resolvable “policy” issue. (artist)
- Professional and ethical behavior from all artists should be encouraged. (artist)
Communication between Directors and Artists
The communication between artists and directors is critical for shows to operate efficiently.
Comments regarding this communication:
- Directors asked that artists read their prospectuses carefully before applying to the show.
- Directors stated that the registration packets that artists receive at “check-in” contain critical information. Because the artists are busy setting up their booths, this information often goes unread. Artist suggested that directors make this critical information as obvious as possible: print it on the outside of the show envelope; print it on a brightly colored paper; or make artists read as well as initial such information at the check-in station.
- Several directors make a special point to stop by every booth during the show to speak directly with each artist. Several artists responded that they always appreciate this effort.
- A daily newsletter is a helpful tool to communicate with artists. (director)
- Follow-up letters to artists who file complaints during a show helps to keep communication channels open. (artist and director)
- Artists can communicate their ideas in the show surveys. Directors can also provide feedback to the artists by mailing them the results of the surveys.
Show Networking: Use of the Directors’ Forum
The directors expressed the desire to communicate with one another on a directors” forum. Several artists pointed out that such a password-protected forum was established last year, but that the site has not been widely utilized by directors since its formation.
The facilitator asked how directors select the dates for their shows. Several directors responded that they remain on the same weekend year after year; other directors use a specific formula to determine their dates. At times, two shows inadvertently fall on the same weekend. The facilitator asked if it would be beneficial to list the specific date formula for each show on the directors” forum.
Responses regarding Show Scheduling:
- Local community events can sometimes interfere with a show’s dates and changes must be made. (director)
- Sunshine Artist publishes a “master calendar” of show dates, but does not include the specific formulas for determining dates. (artist)
- Regional shows may want to select a weekend date after a major show in their region to attract artists enroute from another show. (director)
- Most artists who do back-to-back shows exhibit at the big show first, then the smaller one. (artist)
The facilitator asked if it is problematic for two shows to fall on the same weekend. The responses to this question were:
- One problem for two shows scheduled on the same weekend is that more artists may “double apply”, then cancel one of the shows. (director and artist)
- Due to a possible high number of cancellations, such shows may want to select a large wait-list of artists. (artist)
- If shows have a scheduling conflict with a second show, they may want to issue a greater number of re-invitations. This may ensure a large pool of returning artists from year to year and reduce the number of cancellations. (artist)
- One director responded that it would be advantageous to have his show on a “separate” weekend so he did not have to compete for artists in the region.
PARTNERSHIPS IN THE INDUSTRY
Partnerships in the Community
An artist described the triangular relationship that exists between the artists, the show, and the community. All points of this triangle must fit well to ensure a strong structure. When artists and directors work together proactively on public relations issues, the benefits for both are multiplied. An artist asked if the directors would be willing to respond to a survey to gather information to make partnerships between the artists, the shows and their communities more effective. The directors responded affirmatively.
Partnerships in Marketing
There was brief discussion regarding a national publicity campaign focusing on “the value of art,” partnered with local campaign efforts, specific to each show community.
Partnerships in Schools
Street artists can be primary catalysts for art education in a community. Several “artists in schools” programs were described. One artist suggested a questionnaire regarding these specific programs be posted on the Director’s Forum. This information could then be compiled and distributed as a valuable educational resource.
YARDSTICKS FOR MEASURING SUCCESS
The yardsticks for measuring the success of an art festival depend on one”s perspective. (facilitator)
Comments regarding yardsticks for measuring success:
- If eighty percent of my artists reapply the following year, then I know my show has been successful. (director)
- Questions this director asks to measure the success of the event: Did the public enjoy the event? Were the artists comfortable? Did the artists make sales?
- A director reported that her measure of success was: the overwhelming support from the community; the excellent dialogue with the artists; and the good sales for the artists.
- An artist suggested that if a show has been good for the artists, they need to inform the director by telling her/him personally or by completing the survey form.
WHAT DEFINES A GOOD SHOW?
NAIA survey results indicate that artists view one of the biggest threats to our industry as the proliferation of mediocre shows. One artist questioned the need for more shows. What we need is better shows. The facilitator asked, What defines a good show?
Comments regarding the definition of a good show:
- Shows need to carefully develop their missions. (artist)
- The first years are hard ones for new shows. (director)
- Information on the “artist network” travels fast; one director reported that her number of applicants increased by thirty percent when artists learned of the improvements at her show. (director)
- Each show must be “matched” to the community needs. One director commented that although she has received numerous requests to start shows in other communities, the success of her show would not necessarily transfer to another community.
- Two critical questions for directors to ask are, “What are you offering the artists who participate?” and “Who will help to sponsor the show?” (director)
- Keep in mind that when organizing a new show, it is not only the sponsors, but also the artists who take financial risks. (artist)
- Artists like to know that shows have gained community support. One demonstration of this support is the level of sponsorship. (artist)
- Artists appreciate knowing that shows have an advertising or marketing plan. (artist)
- Artists appreciate directors who “do their homework” before initiating a new show. (artist)
- The question was raised, Does too much success eventually impact good shows in a negative way (such as crowds too large or parking too scarce)? (artist)
- An artist raised the question, Does implementation of additional arenas of focus, such as music or food, strengthen the event as a whole?
Several directors described the extensive audience surveys they are conducting. Some of these surveys are in conjunction with universities, while others are with departments of tourism. The surveys profile numerous factors such as the demographics and the specific interests of show attendees. The facilitator asked if the results of these surveys might be a valuable resource for audience development for other directors. Opinions were voiced regarding the critical importance of long-term efforts to cultivate a younger audience.
CANDID COMMENTS REGARDING ARTISTS’ BEHAVIOR
An artist asked the show directors, What is the one “pet peeve” about artists that bothers you the most?
The directors’ answers to this question were:
- Artists who don’t read the show materials
- Artists who do stupid things like driving on someone’s private property
- Artists who complain about something the show has no control over, like weather and dust
- Artists who complain about specific artists’ amenities (created especially for THEM) such as babysitting services, artist massages and lunch deliveries
- Artists who complain about the show to the patrons who attend the show
- Artists who leave garbage behind when they vacate their booth site
- Artists who show a lack of common courtesy
- Artists who complain about parking requirements
- Artists who don’t call to let the director know they are not coming to the show
FUTURE CONFERENCE PLANNING
After the 1999 Directors Conference in Chicago, the NAIA made the decision to host the second annual Conference in Orlando. This decision was based on several factors:
- The Conference could be held immediately following the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, giving attendees the opportunity to visit this major show in conjunction with the conference.
- The location in Orlando was easily accessible from most regions of the country.
- The decision was made to focus attention in a different region of the country, and hopefully, involve more Florida shows in the dialogue.
The NAIA requested input from the directors in planning the next Directors Conference. Several factors to consider include location, date and format for the conference. Consensus was reached to inform directors of the location and date as early as possible for scheduling and budgeting purposes. Specific suggestions offered regarding dates and location:
- New Orleans during the Jazz Fest in April (artist)
- Atlanta in October or November (directors and artist)
The facilitator asked if directors would be willing to respond to a questionnaire about the date, location and format for the next conference. The directors answered affirmatively. Toni Mann and Larry Oliverson will compile a questionnaire. If directors would like to contribute suggestions regarding dates, locations or topics to be included on the questionnaire, they were asked to contact Toni or Larry.
Several suggestions were made regarding the format for the next conference:
- Include smaller “break-out” groups to facilitate greater discussion and to offer choices of topics. (director)
- If more directors attend the next conference, the number may not be “manageable” for effective roundtable discussion. (artist)
- Arrange for directors to have a working session separate from the artists. This session is valuable for their networking, so they learn to talk with one another. (artist and director)
- Have a combined weeklong convention for both directors and artists. Some activities would be combined, and others held exclusively for directors or for artists. (artist)
- If the purpose of the conference is information gathering, the format needs to be different than if the purpose is to develop policy. (facilitator)
- A more defined agenda would be helpful. Then the agenda could be mailed prior to the conference, and directors could come more prepared. (director)
- Involve directors in the program planning before the conference. Again, this might help directors to be better prepared, and thereby enhance their contributions to the conference dialogue. (director)
- A director offered to serve on a Director’s Panel at a future conference. She offered to compile information on a specific topic, such as jurying.
Larry Oliverson thanked everyone for attending the conference and for contributing his or her time and energies to “strengthening our industry.” He thanked Eva Soeka for facilitating the conference. The conference was adjourned at 5:00 p.m. on March 21, 2000.