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