The Art Festival Newsletter 
January/February, 2016

SPECIAL EDITION: The Year in Review;The Year Ahead 
connecting artists with art festivals and art festivals with artists 

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The Good New Days

Now, don't get too excited, not just yet!  But...our most recent survey of 18,000 artists nationwide tells us that, for at least one-third of the artists who exhibit in festivals, the recession is...wait for it...over.

Almost forty percent of respondents to our "The Year in Review" survey, conducted last month, reported that their sales increased in 2015.

It is the first time in the last six years we have seen a  substantial portion of exhibitors' sales go up...a major reversal of what artists have experienced. In fact, with forty percent reporting increases, the results closely approximate pre-recession revenue growth. Of course, the news was not good for all: one-third of artists reported sales below 2014's level, while about one-quarter of artists said their sales remained the same.

Other results were a mixed lot, or palette, if you will, with a bias toward the positive.

Overall show costs increased among a bit over half the artists, for the same number of shows in which they exhibited.  We have noticed a trend toward increased booth fees, not a large number, as yet, but more than in recent years.  And, of course, gas prices were still high in 2015; it will be interesting to see how today's lower fuel costs impact artists' travel and participation decisions this year. 

Other positive signs came up in the survey results.  Almost one in five artists participated in more festivals last year than in 2014.  And over one-third of artists surveyed applied to more festivals, too. Thus, increased show costs do not seem to have deterred artists from expanding their festival participation.

Almost one-quarter of artists found it more difficult to gain acceptance in 2015, perhaps a result of higher application levels.

A very revealing trend showed itself in how artists viewed exhibiting in shows in which they had not previously participated. Eighty-seven percent of artists polled showed their work in shows new to them. This willingness to try unfamiliar events has been dormant since almost the start of the recession.

While many artists would like to participate in more events, they don't, overall, plan to apply to more festivals, thus increasing their opportunities to exhibit.

The reasons for this seeming disconnect are somewhat unclear, but likely have to do with monetary restraints--the need to finance show participation before the event takes place--as well as travel considerations.

Looking at festival attributes, one-third of artists reported that they believe quality levels were down last year, a significant increase from a year earlier.  Another half of artists said quality levels remained about the same.

Price pressures continued during 2015, with artists reporting that they needed to negotiate--meaning lower--prices to make sales.  This has been an ongoing trend, predating the recession by a few years. even with this trend ongoing, artists have worked to keep their prices the same, wit only about 13 percent reporting that they had lowered their prices during 2015.

How do artists feel about the current year? Opinions are split, rather evenly, between artists who think 2016 will be a better year and those who think sales will shrink, about one-third of those responding in each camp.  The remaining third of artists believe sales will remain the same.

And what of the future of the industry?

Given the sales results of 2015, the answers to this question were startling.  More than 40 percent of the artists responding said they believe the industry is in decline and likely to continue that trend. Less than 11 percent see the industry as stable and likely to improve in the near term. 

It seems counterintuitive that improved sales would yield a negative prognosis.  However, artists have waited since the start of the Great Recession for a return to the sales levels of the early 2000's.  Perhaps, after years of hoping for the best with little positive return, artists are a bit cynical that one year's promising results will turn into healthy sales and a growing industry over the near future.
Open for Applications: Click logo for Call to Artists

Loring Park Art Festival (MN)
Deadline March 15
A Fair in the Park (PA)
Deadline: March 1

Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras
Deadlline:April 1

Downtown Festival & Art Show (FL)
Deadline: May 5
Click HERE to view more Calls to Artists:
News and Notes:

Online spaces for artists to display their work abound.  Most fall into one of two categories: pay-to-display, where the artist pays a monthly or annual fee to be included; or, commercial sites, where the site's owners either take a commission or (for appropriate mediums) do the actual manufacturing...generally printing and/or framing, of wall art.

Recently, however, a number of "free" sites have broken internet ground.  One that intrigues us at Art-Linx is called "Artavita".  Here's an excerpt from their website:

"Artavita is an online gallery where artists can see and be seen, while staying current on upcoming events, exhibitions and opportunities to share their work. Designed for artists by artists, creating a profile and displaying your work on Artavita is completely free."

While it is indeed without cost, there are ancillary products or services that do carry a fee.  One, albeit not expensive, is a contest Artavvita is holding.  For $15, artists can enter a competition, judged by art professionals.  The winner's work will be shown at Artavita's space during Art Basel late in 2016. 

So...check out the organization's website, Let us knowwhat you think!
QuickPoll Reports

Do you think festivals provide enough support for artists during the events?

We enjoyed the responses to this QuickPoll; evidently a wintry dose of cabin fever has stoked the fires of verbal expression and reduced the inhibitions of many artists out there.
Here are a few of your--let us say, pithy--emarks:

"First let me say that most shows do their provide as little as possible in the way of support to artists.  Seems like, "okay, here's your slice of concrete for the weekend.  Have fun." is the most they recognize that without us there would be no show!"--Julie  H.

"I am still waiting for the full breakfast that was promised at a show a year ago. Heck, I'd settle for a stale donut at most shows.  But they are getting better at collecting their booth fees.  Can anyone say, "There's always another artist who will take your booth."--Robert N.

"I must say that most shows do not think deeply about artists' needs.  For example, parking.  It needs to be near the show and easily accessed, not a quarter-mile away...shuttle buses really don't help when you have a customer waiting for that piece in your van." --Jamie D.

"Champagne ain't necessary, but a bottle of beer or a glass of wine would keep me coming back...if sales are good." --Thomas V.

"Let me see.  Free lodging, gift cards to good restaurants, day before load-in, helpers during setup and teardown, snacks and water all during show hours, wi-fi and, oh yes, a massage therapist on call.  These things would help."
--Andrea R.

This Issue's Quote:
"As my artist's statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance" ~Calvin and Hobbes
This Issue's Top Tip...

Do you find yourself often rearranging your vehicle to accommodate new (or different sized) work?  Are you weary of figuring out how to pack your van for each show or series of shows? Have you experienced losses of work due to your pieces ...and personal belongings...knocking into each other on the road? Are you outfitting a new vehicle?

Cardboard to the rescue.

Of course, we all know what cardboard is: paper masquerading as something stronger.  The senior member of the family is called "corrugated" cardboard, two thin sheets with a wavy thin sheet between them. Boxes made of this stuff come, of course, in as many sizes as companies can figure out how to sell. 

But that's not the whole story.

A quick search of the internet will present you with many places to purchase what is called "double wall" and even "triple wall" cardboard, in both box and sheet form. While the material can be a bit costly compared with the usual single-wall boxes sold pretty much everywhere, you can fashion the heavier cardboard into very strong, easily formed (just a carpet knife and tape is needed) and shock absorbing, impact resistant containers for your work.

With a bit of planning, you can make discreet spaces in your van for different sizes of your work, segregate your booth elements from your art and create easy accessibility for your clothing and other personal stuff.

If you're outfitting a new vehicle, you can use the cardboard as a "trial and error" temporary design, postponing manufacturing your system from wood or metal until you've found the perfect--cardboard--solution.

Once your design phase is over, the thick cardboard can be used as packing material for sending your artwork to buyers, galleries, etc.  For the most part, your art will survive the vicissitudes of journeys in the hands of freight companies and public carriers...even the post office!

So...take advantage of the (heavy duty) cardboard connection!

In This Issue:
Quick Links:

The Art Festival Handbook

Your complete, authoritative
guide to success exhibiting in
 art festivals!
Available in hardcover, softcover and digital formats!

Looking for information on festivals?
Deciding where to apply?
Need updates on festival participation trends?

Visit Our All New Website!

 It's your artist's home on the web! 
The Art-Linx Annual Report, 2015

The Art Festival Industry 
Riding the Winds of Change

Drawn from multiple artist and producer surveys, dozens of interviews,and both private and public sources,

 The Art-Linx Report paints an accurate, timely, intuitive and vital portrait of our industry...its current state and likely future.

 Pre-order now and save $50!

Order at: Annual Report

Find the best festivals for you!

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Show Producers:

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*Increase applications to your festival
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*Expand your pool of loyal artists
*Create a focused, cost effective marketing program to potential exhibitors
*...and much more!

 At  Art-Linx, we focus on a single goal: connecting artists with art festivals and art festivals with artists. Hundreds of festivals have found our services highly effective ...and very cost efficient.

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Artists Are Talking About...
a serious reduction in attendance at the winter Florida shows...many artists believe public attendance is down by as much as 50% at some of the state's top-rated events...the clear difference in travel costs from last winter to now...happy, of course, to be paying as little as one half of what gas cost last winter, artists on the road still question why hotel prices seem to have risen this year...a change in the mix of mediums at some events...artists note that some formerly heavily jewelry weighted festivals seem to have reversed course and are limiting the percentages of any given addition to jewelry, photography and 2D mixed media are being most mentioned ...acceptance to some shows is becoming easier...several artists have let us know that they are finding being accepted into mid-range festivals less difficult for summer 2016 events ...the number of new faces at shows is increasing...artists with long histories on the show circuit are saying they have noticed many new artists exhibiting at shows all over the nation.
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