Art Festival Newsletter | November 2022


The details of creating an art festival and what artists need to know before applying to the show


This month's Art Festival Newsletter will focus on what goes into creating an art show. Any great art festival is a collaborative effort between the show and the artists, creating an open and honest process is key to the success of both parties.

I have spent my adult Iife as a gambler. By that, I mean being an artist or show director at juried art festivals for the past 28 years. The classic definition of a gambler describes this life quite well; "wagering money (jury fees) or something of value (time) on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent on gaining money or material goods.

Gambling requires three elements be present: consideration, chance, and prize," elements present at every art festival. The difference between a simple gambler and an artist who is successful largely falls on mitigating risk. When choosing a partner to gamble with, artists should consider art festivals that provide the following:

Jury Process: Shows conduct a professional jury process that reflects respect and impartiality. This mitigates the risk of showcasing at a poorly curated show.


Communication: Make all artist information readily available including show policies, instructions, and layouts so that it can be referenced easily. If an artist still has questions the festival should be responsive via email or telephone.


Safety:  Provide security before, during and after the show to mitigate physical and mental risk.


PR and Marketing: Promoting an art festival takes creative thinking balanced with practicality. The artist has the right to ask where the event was publicized. The festival should provide digital art to the artist so they can market the information to their clients.


Layout Plan: Should be thoughtfully planned so artists with a similar look are not placed next to each other.


Site Evaluation: The Festival should inspect the site before the event. Making sure that there are no hazards to the artists and if there are - reworking the layout to safely accommodate everyone.


Not all risk can be assumed by the festival, for once at the festival it largely falls on the artist to ensure they have a great show. Here are some basic items to take into consideration:


Market Yourself: You have purchased a storefront for the weekend. It is essential that you market your location, new work and your story. It is much easier to make a sale to an existing patron than acquire a new one.


Weather: Be sure you have the appropriate gear to secure your display and protect your art. Having insurance on your work also mitigates risk.


Put your best look forward: Make sure your display is professional and unique as your art. A great display creates a welcoming atmosphere for your new or existing clients. When you are selling your art, you should dress as sharply as the situation allows.


Be Engaged: Being an active seller and sharing your story will result in better customer engagement that leads to higher sales

The combination of partnering with art festivals who are vested in developing strategies that benefit the artists and the artist assessing risk and analyzing what they can do to mitigate risk, changes the odds.

From the Directors Chair: The Devil is in the Details 

There is no such thing as a typical day for an art show director, which is why I really like this part of my life. My role involves everything from strategic vision to hands-on delivery. When I started out as a Festival Director I thought I understood all that went into the production of the event. I knew the job was to oversee setup and breakdown, create materials such as maps and signage and coordinate festival staffing. What I did not take into account was dealing with city bureaucracy, insurance coverage and projecting risks for the event.


These are my 10 basic steps to organizing a fine art festival - the devil is in the details and I have asked fellow directors to share some of their organizational goals in this Newsletter.


Set the Date (not always simple): Shows work to secure the same weekend the following year within a month of the previous event. This can involve mulitple stakeholders.


Create a Master Plan: Includes budget, staff, charitable beneficiary, contractors, parking (artist & public), site plan, sponsors, entertainment & hospitality.


Create a Publicity Plan: PR and Marketing (social media, web listings, print, eblasts, TV and radio).


Artist, Entertainment and Festival Food Outreach: Email releases, phone calls, social media and word of mouth


Organize a Team: Jury, Street Captains, Festival Staff, PR and Marketing.


Logistics: Permits, insurance, police, contractors, tax authority, artist hotel, artist parking, and merchants.


Artist Communication: Jury results, site plan, load-In schedule, advertising opportunities, press opportunities, general information to make the show as smooth as possible.

Festival Website: Participating artists (photos and contact info), music and festival food, festival information for the public, map and parking directions.


Show Site: Executing site plan, coordinating merchant participation, traffic control for both artists and the public.

Show Weekend: Mark booths, parking signs, traffic control, on- site judging, hospitality and a thousand small details that make the show work but are really boring!


At the Art Festival Directors Conference last month, we discussed how to execute the best possible event. Working through risk management plans, best practices in experiential marketing and social media campaigns and how to create a financially secure event.

It was clear from our conversations that there is alot of misinformation about show finances in the artist community. In the context of needing to cancel a show the week of due to a hurricane, I found that while many artists had kind words and expressed an understanding that money could not be given back immediately, there were a few that were angry and frustrated at the sytem. A great art show is a partnership and both sides take risk (see above) in creating an event that benefits the artist and the organization.

I thought it would help for the artists to know what the shows are spending the money received from the artists, sponsors, F&B and donations on.

4 Bridges Arts Festival

Sarah Moore

AVA, Director of Special Events

Through our jury/application fee, and our booth fee for accepted artists, 4 Bridges Arts Festival brings in approximately $95,000 in revenue, which sounds like a huge amount, enough to pad our coffers sweetly. However, when you know the costs to actually run the show? You know that $95,000 is the thinnest of shoestrings and disappears QUICKLY. We pay about $13,000 to have electricians run wiring throughout the festival site for our artists, and stay on-site through the weekend.

The rental of our wonderful and unique event venue is another $7,500 for the 5 days it takes to set up and run the show. A $20,000 fee goes to our event management company, which helps us throughout the year with planning, venue set-up, volunteer management, food and drink vendors, and so much more. We pay about $5,000 to the great local musicians who perform throughout the weekend, and another $6,000 to the sound production company that stays on-site and makes them sound so good. We pay for marketing the event throughout Chattanooga and to other cities around us to attract the best possible audience and a lot of buyers.

There are so many more fees that add up over the course of any event -- renting tents, tables, and chairs; flower arrangements; food and beverage costs; and more. We want our artists to know that we use the fees you provide to us wisely and well in order to put on the best possible event. It's our goal that all those little costs seamlessly disappear when our attendees arrive -- we want them to see a beautiful and fun event full of incredible, happy artists, and walk in relaxed and ready to shop.

Cherry Creek Arts Festival

Amy Curlee

Visual Arts Director

CherryArts is a nonprofit organization that produces the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, the artists jury and booth fees contribute and make up only 21% of the revenue budget that is used to produce the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. CherryArts uses these fees to produce a high-quality successful experience for exhibiting artists with marketing that is specifically targeted at art buyers.  The economic impact of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival continues to be a vital part of the success of the event, annually patrons purchase approximately $4.1 million in art sales.

CherryArts is a nonprofit organization with any additional proceeds generated from events and grant funding going to support greater access to the arts at our events, continuing to remove barriers to experiencing and creating art and year-round outreach programs for artists and students. CherryArts delivers year-round education programming to nurture future generations of art supporters and expose young minds to the many social and individual benefits of experiencing and creating art. CherryArts ignites creative and critical thinking for over 40,300 students annually.

 MOuntain Herita...r Art-Linx

Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival

Heather McIntyre

Executive Director

The Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival has been going strong for 46 years! Because our festival has been going on for so long, the artists know that they can count on this festival still living up to its great reputation which helps them with their income. 

The festival is our main fundraiser for the Chamber which helps fund events for our Chamber such as The Public Service Banquet honoring the first responders in our community, the New Teacher's Lunch connecting new teachers with our business community and many others. We also reach out to nonprofits in our community to help with the festival such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Kiwanis Club.

Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair

Shannon Cox

Executive Director

The Peoria Art Guild Fine Art Fair is the biggest fundraiser for the Peoria Art Guild. Proceeds from the annual Fair help us to drive our mission throughout the entire year. Our mission is to "Bring art to the community and the community to art.  To fulfill this mission we provide monthly exhibits, art classes and Sculpture Walk Peoria. In 2021 we provided:

267 Art Classes 

1443 Arts Experiences  

86 Children’s classes with 657 arts experiences. 

181 Adult classes with 781 arts experiences. 

30 Instructors Paid to Teach 

Camp Invention Summer Camp -28 Students 

The Economic Impact of the Fine Art Fair in 2021 was $340,084. It is estimated that there were 1,800 overnight stays in Peoria and the average meal purchases in our community over the weekend were $65,935. The average shopping in the community was estimated at $52,155 with recreation purchases at $42,249. The estimated local taxes generated were $6,809. The Fair is very important to our community for these reasons.

Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show

Sandra Sedmak Engel

Chairman of the Board, RSFAA

The Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show operates on a surprisingly small budget. As our show remains focused solely on the art and the talented artists who make the show possible, we have not offered sponsorships. Almost every penny that we bring in through application and booth fees goes directly back into the operation of our shows. This includes paying our Executive Director and Financial Director, who work year-round, as well as our Student Coordinator, Hospitality Coordinator, and Assistant Director the weekends of the shows. Trust me when I say these positions are fulfilled more through a labor of love for our 96-year-old show, rather than a desire to make money. The rest of the work required to run our shows is done by our all volunteer board of artists - an extremely hard-working team.

In addition, we have to maintain our insurance, pay park fees and city license fees. None of these come back to us if the show must be cancelled. With what is left, we promote our artists by investing in marketing campaigns, website growth, and show programs, which are contracted many months before the weekends of the shows. Also non refundable.

We have been fortunate compared to other shows in the country after the devastating effects of Covid, as we are used to operating with minimal funds, and effectively promoted our artists, even when we could not be together. Our budget is small, but our love for the show and our artists has allowed The Rittenhouse Square Fine Art Show to remain on of the best loved fine art shows in the country

St. George Art Festival

Emily Reed

Community Arts & Exhibits Manager

The St. George Art Festival is a revenue neutral festival. The income generated through artist and food vendor fees goes directly into the festival each year. On average, the St. George Art Festival receives around $25,000 in artist jury and booth fees after the expenses of the registration system. We receive an additional $5,000 from our food vendors. Our awards budget is $3,000 plus an additional $5,000 minimum that we promise to spend on art at the festival for the St. George Art Museum permanent collection. Our artist hospitality area averages around $3,000 and porta potties can run up to $2,000 for the weekend. Night-time security costs $1,000 and artist welcome packets run an additional $1,000. Our crew shirts that make the staff so easy to find cost around $2,000 and we treat our hard-working staff to gatorade and water that runs an additional $500. The printed materials we use to advertise cost around $3,000. The entertainment that draws our large crowds runs around $6,500 and the Children's Creation Station is budgeted at $3,000. We are fortunate to receive grants to cover advertising costs and we receive permits and park useage for free through the City of St. George. These budget numbers are based on averages and some years we need to adjust in order to purchase new banners, totes, peg boards, tents, or other materials that help the festival succeed. 

The St. George Art Festival was founded with artists in mind. When fees were raised this year, months of research was compiled to ensure that the increase in fees was just enough to cover inflated costs for event production and that the St. George Art Festival remains one of the most affordable festivals in the west for our artists. When accounting for staff salaries and in-kind services received, the St. George Art Festival expenses far outweigh the revenue. We are grateful that the City of St. George can continue to produce this event at cost so we do not have to place more burdens on our artists through higher fees. 

A special thank you to all the directors who contributed to this Newsletter

Last Chance to APPLY: Click logo for more information!

Spring Cottonwood Art Festival

Richardson, Texas

May 6-7, 2023

Application Deadline 1/6/23

Marion Arts Festival

Marion, Iowa

May 20, 2023

Application Deadline 1/10/23

Director Pet Peves

  • Not using correct capitalization on show applications
  • Not having social media handles on ZAPP profile
  • Hard to find social media links on the artist website
  • Artist websites that do not list your current schedule
  • Not using social media marketing marterials provided by the show
  • Not providing the correct cell phone number for the artist attending the show
  • Taking more booth space than allocated
  • Not using free ticket codes provided by the show
  • Bringing items to sell that were not juried in
  • No notification of cancellation
  • Booth presentation that is not what was shown in jury images
  • Not cleaning up after the show (leaving zip ties everywhere)
  • Talking negatively about the show in front of patrons
Contact Robin Markowitz at [email protected]
The Art-Linx website has the most current Call to Artist information