In case some interested people didn't receive it, I am forwarding an
email I received yesterday from ACC, clearly in response to the
previous critical one that was also posted on Orchid. Personally,
I'll just wait and see, since I missed the deadline to apply this
February 3, 2004
Dear American Craft Council Exhibitors,
We are writing to update you on show-related as well as
news about the Council. A show exhibitor recently advised us to
�just tell us, here is where we were, here is where we are, and here
is where we are going.� Embracing that sage advice, we offer the
Where Council Shows Were
In the late 1960s the American Craft Council pioneered the juried
craft show and set the gold standard, spawning shows across the
country. Craft shows flourished from the 1980s through the mid 90s.
But, by the late 90s the show environment began to change as
competition, encouraged by the Council�s success, increased. Show
attendance, already in decline, was dealt an additional blow in 2001
by the downturn in the economy. Today, there are fewer new craft
artists doing shows and the craft consumer is graying, affecting
craft shows, as well as shops and galleries.
For almost two years exhibitors have told us passionately,
eloquently and repeatedly that
Council shows are under promoted new consumers, especially younger
ones, must be targeted the Baltimore Winter Retail show has too
many exhibitors efforts must be made to guarantee the quality of
Where We Are
Initial Steps to Improve Shows
Responding to input from exhibitors, the Council took the following
In 2004, increased show promotion overall by 31 percent, and by 47
percent for Baltimore Winter. The Council spent $783,000 on show
promotion in 2003. In 2004, we will spend $1,023,000, by far the
largest ever investment in show promotion. Created and launched a
new ad campaign geared to accomplish two goals: to reach out to a
new, younger audience and to promote craft in everyday living. This
present campaign is a first step in revitalizing show attendance.
Set a lower limit on the number of exhibitors for Baltimore Winter,
reducing the retail show from a high of 829 exhibitors in 2002 to
735 in 2004. Evaluated the allocation of resources among the 11
Council shows, which informed the decision to discontinue the
Chicago and Baltimore Summer shows in order to concentrate energy
and resources on the most viable show markets.
If you would like a detailed summary of marketing and promotional
efforts in Baltimore, please send your request to Bernadette Boyle
Unifying Council Offices
In an evaluation of show operations, we carefully considered the
cost and effectiveness of maintaining two separate offices for the
total 24-member staff. There is an undeniable advantage from the
synergy and cohesion that can develop by having all staff in one
location. Together they can achieve full integration of Council
programs. From a financial point of view, the Council pays
reasonable rent and has space adequate to house all staff in the
current New York office. Savings in administration and support
services are also realized, with a total estimated annual savings of
Change and transition are difficult. The decision to unite the
Council offices was challenging for everyone, and ultimately Nan
Alderson and Christine Crawfis departed from the Council. We are
grateful for their long and loyal service.
The present Highland staff have been offered positions in New York.
Discussions with the staff are continuing. We very much appreciate
the staff�s professionalism, generosity and loyalty.
Ensuring Continuity and Exhibitor Support
We recognize that exhibitors are concerned about show operations and
we want to offer reassurance. In Baltimore you will see many staff
that you know and that you count on. Sharon Kirn will be there for
check-in on Sunday and Monday; she will be joined by Maria Lecesse
on those days. Donna Ziegler will be present throughout the show.
(Special thanks to Maria and Donna, who are coming back to help at
Baltimore.) And you will see the same tremendous efforts on your
behalf from Melanie Bender, Susie Linn, Annette Fitzgerald and
Janith Dack that you have known in the past. Tony Annino has taken
on additional responsibilities and will continue to be a valued
member of the show team.
Reed McMillan, whom many of you know from his work at GUILD.COM or
have met at recent Council shows, is the Director of Marketing and
Communications and in that role has responsibility for Council-wide
marketing and communications which includes the show program and
technology. Reed joined the Council last August and
brings over 15 years of craft marketing experience.
You will also have an opportunity in Baltimore to meet Sal
Chiarelli, recently appointed Show Operations Manager. He is deeply
involved in logistical details of the show. We are fortunate that he
chose not to relocate when Microsoft consolidated its trade show
operations in Washington State. Sal is a seasoned show operations
professional. We are sure that as you get to know him, you will find
he has an open and warm heart.
Mission of the American Craft Council
Founded 60 years ago, the American Craft Council has been dedicated
to promoting understanding and appreciation of contemporary American
craft. We have grown to be an organization of some 30,000 members
that include craft artists, advocates, collectors, educators and
museum professionals, all of whom we serve and represent.
Where We Are Going
The Council is uniquely poised to build on its rich history and
assert leadership in the field to modernize and elevate the image of
craft and to expand its audience to attract younger consumers. We
intend to strengthen current programs as well as to reach out in new
directions. Trustees and staff have laid the foundation for
enhanced shows, ongoing communication, new educational programming
and increased financial security.
The Council has detailed plans to maximize both the financial and
programmatic effectiveness of its juried craft shows. Priorities
enhanced exhibitor communication continued financial commitment to
marketing and public relations enhanced technology and analysis to
track trends and response
more frequent walking tours and lectures at the shows, offering the
public a more intimate opportunity to meet artists and learn about
their work full integration of experienced development and marketing
staff leading to the pursuit of corporate funding and local
To keep you updated, beginning right before the Baltimore Show, we
will be sending you an e-newsletter on show-related topics. Reed
will serve as editor and welcomes your comments and suggestions for
this ongoing e-mail communication.
At all shows we will continue the morning exhibitor meetings that
have been invaluable in shaping our thinking. If you would like to
attend one of these meetings, there will be a sign-up sheet in the
show office after check-in. We will schedule as many meetings as
necessary to accommodate requests.
In 2003, the Council convened an education task force to engage in a
critical discourse on the present state of craft and future
possibilities for the field, and then to determine the optimal role
for the Council�s educational programming.
Key findings of the task force include:
Within the field the pulse of craft is strong, the work
sophisticated, the makers talented. Outside the field, the pulse of
craft is weak. Craft lacks cultural validation. The field is not
renewing itself in traditional ways. Competing alternatives exist
for almost all handmade craft objects. The greater public lacks the
knowledge and discernment to value craft. The promotional apparatus
that is in place for design, and also for art, does not exist for
Through the work of the task force, the trustees and senior staff
have identified several initiatives that will augment current
programs in a meaningful way and reach out to promote American craft
in the years ahead.
With the findings of the task force in mind, the Council is
designing and raising funds for projects that will:
modernize and elevate the image of craft expand the audience that
values craft influence shapers of culture validate the practice of
Ensuring Financial Strength
Like other not-for-profit organizations, the Council must be able to
generate ever-increasing, unearned gift income in order to ensure
its long-term financial strength.
Shows and publishing generate equal revenue streams for the Council.
New programming must be supported from outside sources.
To that end, the Council established a development program in 2002
to support the trustees� fund-raising efforts and coordinate the
Council�s development agenda.
Over the past year attention has been focused on aggressively
building the annual fund, which is the bedrock of an organization�s
sustainable fund-raising capacity. In addition, the Council has
the Council Patron Society, an annual fund donor group, for those
making gifts of $1,000 and above a major gifts program to raise
funds essential for the Council�s future educational initiatives the
Craft Heritage Society, the Council�s planned giving program
Between 2000 and 2002, the Council raised approximately $40,000 in
annual operating monies. Last year, $103,000 was raised and we
anticipate that in 2004 the annual fund will reach $170,000. In
addition, we anticipate that funds will be raised in the current
fiscal year for new educational programming.
We hope this letter has given you a clearer picture of the Council�s
efforts on your behalf. We will do a better job keeping you
informed. For your reference, there is an e-mail list of Council
staff and a trustee e-mail address given below. This letter is also
being sent to wholesale buyers and other Council friends.
We look forward to continuing our dialogue.
Carmine Branagan Lee Eagle
Executive Director Chair, Board
Reed McMillan Judy Gordon
Director of Marketing & Communications Chair, Show Committee, Board