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Artisan's troupe


#1

I am so frustrated with the art show scene. It is so often that I
apply to a show after buying into their application hype about
accepting only the finest, only completely handmade by the artist,
no crafts–only art…etc., etc., etc., and then I get to the show
and fine all kinds of imports, resale junk, etc. There are so many
other frustrations with the way the shows are handled, like what is
their mission? Is it a carnival, a food-tasting, a social event, an
operatic showing, a rock music concert, or a crafts show or a flea
market?

To make a long story short…I am always trying to think of a
way for artists to better exhibit and sell their work and I have
been toying with the idea of getting together a group of
aritsans/artists who would hire an administrator and travel to
events that the administrator of the group has set up. I have just
toyed with the following numbers (all pulled out of the air) and
detail possibilities. This is just the seed of an idea:

**Artists are invited by the troupe because one or more of the
member artists has seen the work and recommended the artist–no
application/jury fees!

**Say 100 artists in the troupe and they each give 10% of their show
sales to an administrative fund–if avg sales are $2,000.00 per
artist x 100 x .10 = $20,000. If the troupe did about 20 shows per
year x 20,000 = $400,000 in fund per year.

**The administrator is paid a salary (or salary plus commission) and
the remainder of the $400,000 is to cover rental of halls and
advertising.

**Initial shows (i.e., before the fund has any money in it) would be
paid for by artists with amounts equal to other show fees. e.g.: 100
x 350.00 = $35,000.

**The artist’s only responsibility of expense would be the 10% of
gross sales: e.g., $2000. x .10 x 20 shows = $4,000.00 compared to
say $375.00 (booth plus jury fee) x 20 = $7500.00 for traditional
shows

**In lieu of a central checkout–just to keep all the artists
honest–you would have a person at the door collecting stubs from
customers indicating the amounts they had spent with each artist.
Some incentive would be created to have customers be sure to turn
the stubs in.

Anyone who’s been there, done that, I’d love to hear from you.
Anyone who wants to (kindly please) show me the glaring errors in
this seed of an idea, I’d love to hear from you. Anyone who would
like to help me develop this idea, I’d love to hear from you.

I think patrons could really be excited about this kind of
troupe–knowing that the shows would be of the highest quality.

J. S. Ellington
432-557-8785
jsellington@cs.com


#2

JS,

Quite the dream. See the artist is the entertainment, all the rest is
just so the entertainment has a place. It does not matter where the
place is, high class gallery, flea market, or along the curb. Nobody
wants to come just for the entertainment, they want the whole
package. It isn’t all about selling.

And yes I gave up on the art shows/fairs along time ago for the
reasons you mentioned. POPCORN, PEANUTS, we are at a carnival.
YIPPEE

Warren Townsend


Trenton, MI 48183


#3

J.S.

In lieu of a central checkout--just to keep all the  artists
honest--you would have a person at the door collecting  stubs from
customers indicating the amounts they had spent with  each artist.
Some incentive would be created to have customers  be sure to turn
the stubs in. 

I do a show at the Bazaar Del Mundo in San Diego. They have a
central checkout facility. When a customer decides they want to buy
an art piece the artist writes up a receipt. The customer takes a
copy of the receipt to the central check out where they pay for the
item. The artist keeps a copy. The customer returns with a copy of
the receipt stamped paid and picks up the piece of art. The central
checkout has credit card and check verification facilities. At the
end of the show checks are written to the artists for the amount
they sold less commission. It makes it easy for the artists
because they do not have to have credit card facilities. By the
time you get home the check will clear.

Lee Epperson
Phoenix, Arizona


#4

I agree with your frustration and applaud you for trying to come up
with another solution. That said, I wonder if the reason that shows
charge $375, rather than 10% of show income is that show income is
not very dependable.

Secondly, it could take a while for the word of your group to get to
the participants who would be excited by it.

Finally 100 artists and 20 shows seems like a whole lot. In parts of
the country outdoor shows can’t start until May and end in October.
That’s almost a show a week.

Some artists may not want to do so many shows. How would that be
handled? Do they need to pay for the shows they missed?

And if the season is “extended” by going indoors, well, I don’t know
many venues that can accommodate 100 booths. The indoor costs could
get pretty high.

I have seen artist’s groups with websites on the internet. I wonder
if this would be a good place to start. Perhaps the overhead would
be less.

Debby Hoffmaster


#5

JS

I love your idea. I think many of the organizations have lost their
artistic way. It is all about the money and marketing of the
organization which sponsors the show. What would you do about
wholesale/retail addmission? I am an art jeweler, you could say, and
I am interested in new collectors, not retail stores. I would love
your comments as to this point.

Robert Whiteside
www.robertwhiteside.com


#6
I agree with your frustration and applaud you for trying to come
up with another solution. That said, I wonder if the reason that
shows charge $375, rather than 10% of show income is that show
income is not very dependable.

We would not be producing a show for the sake of a profit. We would
only expect enough to build a fund to produce future shows. At the
outset, the artists might have to pay a regular show fee until the
administrative fund was viable. Even if you only have 50 artists and
an average of $1,000.00 per artist the administrative fees for the
shows would be $5,000.00 (i.e., 10%). Then the artist’s expenses for
the next show would be less because there would be some
administrative fund to work with.

Secondly, it could take a while for the word of your group to get
to the participants who would be excited by it.

We would hand-pick artists from the shows we are already doing. They
would not have to apply to us. If someone contacted us, we would
tell them that they have to be recommended by several artists from
the troupe and then pass the governing board (elected by the
artists) or some such scenario.

Finally 100 artists and 20 shows seems like a whole lot.  In parts
of the country outdoor shows can't start until May and end in
October. That's almost a show a week.

Why so many outdoor shows? Probably cheaper for the show promoters.
I would lean toward doing indoor shows if it is financially
feasible. I know our Holidome here in Midland leases for less than
$200.00 per day. Then no rain-outs–no leaves, dirt, pollen, no
sunburned and heat-exhausted customers and exhibitors, no fire-ants,
no damaging winds, no soaked merchandise, etc., etc., etc.

Some artists may not want to do so many shows. How would that be
handled? Do they need to pay for the shows they missed?

It would be agreed before we started as to how many shows we would
do. It could be handled a number of ways if an artist agreed and
then had to miss–they could find their own replacement who had to
go through the same process as any other artist to be accepted. If
at the last minute, we would accept the artist sight-unseen based on
the recommendation of our group artist–knowing we had hand-picked
these people to begin with.

I have seen artist's groups with websites on the Internet. I
wonder if this would be a good place to start.  Perhaps the
overhead would be less.

I have a prejudice against anything online (that attitude may not be
well-founded?). When you look for handmade one-of-a-kind jewelry you
come up with jillions of search replies. I have looked at some of
the online groups and even read ganoksin mentions of them–isn’t
SLOW sales the name of the game? If so, no one could depend on that
to replace shows.

I’ve had a couple more ideas:

Charge admission to EVERY show. That way you lessen the idea that
art is the entertainment. If the public came to expect a very quality
artisan’s show, I believe they would pay $5.00 or more to get in. It
would not be an event for the whole family complete with pony rides,
face painting, live music, lace bunnies for sale, mimes wandering
the grounds for no apparent reason, an emerging artist’s areas, a
booth about all the nonprofit ventures, a food-tasting, a preview
party where the locals come to bob and weave but not buy,
hand-crocheted doilies, homemade bread, etc.,etc., It would just be
a chance to buy quality, handmade work of artists and artisans.

Our administrator might be a former gallery owner who understands
art and the atmosphere required to sell it or he/she might be a
former show promoter who understands art. I have seen what appears
to me a disparity between what the show promoters feel is necessary
for the artists to sell and what is indeed conducive to selling art.
Some seem to think that all they need are a lot of people—that
doesn’t matter if they don’t have any discretionary income or if
they are not sophisticated enough to understand and appreciate what
goes in to making art completely by hand. What could show promoters
be thinking sometimes? One of the benefits of the troupe is the
ability to pick the cities and the areas where people who can afford
and do buy art live.

J. Sue Ellington
432-557-8785


#7
I am so frustrated with the art show scene. It is so often that I
apply to a show after buying into their application hype about
accepting only the finest, only completely handmade by the artist,
no crafts--only art.....etc., etc., etc., and then I get to the
show and fine all kinds of imports, resale junk, etc. There are so
many other frustrations with the way the shows are handled, like
what is their mission? Is it a carnival, a food-tasting, a social
event, an operatic showing, a rock music concert, or a crafts show
or a flea market? 

Judy & All,

I fully agree with you. Your math is correct. I have tried several
avenues to organize stone cutters and bench jewelers in the USA and
ran into many obstacles. Discrimination against stone cutters and
bench jewelers is the norm in the USA. I do not know of any stone
cutters or bench jewelers who have become wealthy by selling products
they have made. Stone cutters and bench jewelers are the people that
make others wealthy. After 25 years as a stone cutter I have finally
come to the conclusion that I must expand into mass produced imported
stones and jewelry or take advantage of other cutters and bench
workers in the USA. In order for my financial status to improve I
must use the labor of others who are discriminated against. Show
organizers know this. They know that stone cutters and bench people
do not have the money to be in many shows and that we are not
organized. Prompters then fill the shows with people who are actually
making money selling, not producing, and use the artists as the draw
for the shows. You are exploited.

The solution is to organize.

Email me at gggemswcr@cox.net if you wish to further discuss
organization.

Gerry Galarneau
www.galarneausgems.com


#8

just sending as ideas occur to me–

incorporate the group and run it like a nonprofit organization for
the promotion of the arts

J. Sue Ellington


#9

I have some minor experience in assisting the administration of
trade shows for the general public and would like to point out a few
things

  1. the food booths are very popular and frequently they will be
    among the top venders in terms of total sales).

  2. the "entertainers are also frequently some of the top draws for
    total attendance.

  3. As for the crafts at Art shows where does one draw the line, this
    was a long thread here not long ago.

  4. Regarding Jury fees, there are expenses in reviewing the work of
    an artist, and it is not an infrequent event that the work submitted
    does not represent of the work shown.

  5. show administration is a thankless job.

WMSchenk
currently a working bench Jeweler