Promoters’ Top Tips from 2021

January 2022, by Angie Landsverk

Peoria (IL) Art Guild Fine Art Fair, Sept. 25-26, 2021.

Art show promoters and organizers from throughout the country shared what they learned during the 2021 festival season and how the best improvements they made might help others.

Ashley Acker is the marketing manager at Trout Museum of Art, in Appleton, Wisconsin. The museum is the sponsor of Art at the Park. Last year’s event took place on July 24-25.

She said when they began planning for it, the goal was to “present a festival that energized the love of art but was also as safe an event as we could make it in regard to COVID-19. Some changes we made were to spread activities out throughout the entirety of City Park, in Appleton. This included ensuring bathrooms were available at every corner instead of one, food was available throughout the entire park instead of in one area, and sanitizing stations were available throughout the park as well. We found that this helped in spreading out the lines and crowds, making it an enjoyable experience.”

Art & Apples Festival, Sept. 10-12, Rochester, Michigan.

The Art & Apples Festival took place Sept. 10-12, in Rochester, Michigan. Elizabeth Chilton, executive director of the Paint Creek Center for the Arts, said the best improvement made at the festival that others might learn from is “we made our load out procedure simpler this year — providing a parking pass to enter the park as soon as artists asked for one. In the past, we had insisted their tent was disassembled before issuing the pass.”

Debora Boelz said the best improvement the Little Falls Area of Chamber of Commerce made at last year’s Little Falls Arts & Crafts Fair was providing extra TLC to their new vendors by “preparing more detailed location maps for their booth locations.” The event was Sept. 11-12, in Little Falls, Minnesota.

Tephra Fine Arts Festival (Sept. 10-12, Reston, Virginia)

When artists at the Tephra Fine Arts Festival told the organizers they wanted a further explanation of the required tent type and what styles were not permitted, the sponsoring organization did something about it.

“In response to this feedback, we have created a visual diagram of the tent styles that are not permitted at the festival, accompanied with a detailed explanation of the reason behind this policy,” said Festival Director Hannah Barco. “The diagram and extended language are included on the artist application and all artist communications where logistics are addressed.”

She said they also learned the event’s usual hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday might not have provided enough access for evening visitors, resulting in missed artist sales opportunities. “In response, we have adjusted the festival hours for the 2022 event to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” Barco said.

Formerly called the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, the event took place Sept. 10-12, in Reston, Virginia.

Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show, Sept. 17-19, in Philadelphia.

The Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show was held from Sept. 17-19, in Philadelphia. Executive Director Steve Oliver said their best improvement was instituting a prescheduled, staggered set up, with designated unloading zones. “This greatly improved ease of set up,” he said. “Additionally, we instituted a new breakdown policy that artists found extremely helpful.”

The Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair was Sept. 25-26, in Peoria, Illinois. Festival Director Shannon Cox said Peoria is known for taking care of its artists, and they strive to uphold that reputation.

In 2018, they launched the “I Buy Art” initiative to encourage community members to support artists by purchasing their art. “We provide our artists with buttons to give to each person who purchases a piece of art,” Cox said. “Our I Buy Art buttons are now collectible by our fair patrons.”

Danielle Golinski said the best improvement Mercantile Fairs made at its Handcrafters Fall Fair Handmade Market was being careful to have a “good mix of both returning, long-time exhibitors and new, fresh exhibitors.” The event took place Oct. 8-9, in Northville, Michigan.

ARToberFEST was Oct. 16-17, in Galveston, Texas. Festival Director Sarah Piel said the best thing they did other promoters might learn from was designating a particular person for social media at the event. “They were like a roving reporter that reported live and continually did Facebook Like posts and spoke to artists about their work,” she said.