On the Other Side of COVID

June 2021

By Diana Jones

As cases of COVID-19 drop and the percentage of people vaccinated increases across the United States, many states are beginning to relax their mandates, providing an opportunity for art and craft fairs to make a comeback.

Promoters are taking this seriously: Providing hand sanitizer stations throughout the grounds, requiring masks, changing the layout of the show in order to promote more open walkways and distance between booths in an effort to make 6-foot distancing easier. Some shows are requiring artists to follow their COVID guidelines and others leave it up to the artist to decide what they would like to do. One artist commented on Facebook that they were at their first show in 14 months where artists and patrons were able to see each other’s faces and smiles. The governor in this person’s state rescinded the outdoor mask mandate and they were free to be maskless.

Even in Chicago, where restrictions have been fierce throughout the pandemic, art and craft fairs are being approved by the mayor’s office to move forward this summer. One of those shows, Chicago’s Original Old Town Art Fair, is set for June 12 and 13th. Patrons need to sign up in advance for their entry time, wear a mask, and the show is limiting the number of people that can be in a booth at one time.

Best Practices

Some of this is just common sense, but here is a list of items to take into consideration when selling at your next show. Always make sure to follow the guidelines that promoters have put in place, but when you have the choice, focus on what you are comfortable with, as well as what the patrons who will be purchasing from you are comfortable with.

1. Masks not needed – bring one anyway! If the show doesn’t require masks and you are comfortable not wearing one, have one at your booth that you can throw on as a courtesy to a buyer who might be wearing one.

2. Bring a “Wear a Mask” sign! If you want buyers to wear a mask in your booth, put a sign up at the entrance letting them know your wishes. If they do walk in without a mask, you can point to the sign and ask them politely if they would put on a mask before they enter. If they refuse to wear a mask, you can decide what you would like to do: ask them to leave or let it go.

3. Set a limit on number of people in your booth at one time! Some shows are requiring this anyway, but let patrons know how many people can be in your booth at the same time. A sign might be a helpful tool, too.

4. Provide hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Have these items on hand for those visiting your booth. If you have common surfaces or touch points, use disinfecting wipes to keep them germ free.

5. Don’t judge, be kind! This can be difficult, especially if you have strong beliefs either way. The main thing is to give buyers the benefit of the doubt about the choice they’ve made when it comes to wearing a mask. You don’t know their situation: Maybe they have a health reason why they shouldn’t wear a mask, maybe they are vaccinated, have antibodies, or maybe they just don’t want to wear a mask. Is it worth it to harass someone who may want to buy your art? If you care, wear your mask and protect yourself.

Remember why you’re here

The main reason you have a booth at an art show is to sell your creations and make some money. Thankfully, with no art shows last year, most show surveys say that patrons are excited to be out-and-about and they are buying up art! Plus for many they have a few extra dollars in their pocket after all of the stimulus packages, giving them the ability to spend a little more on things they normally wouldn’t buy. Take some time to remember why you are at the show in the first place. Chances are you will walk away from shows this year grateful to be back in business.