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  • LARRY BERMAN
    3872 SAXONBURG BLVD
    CHESWICK, PA 15024

  • July 29, 2012

    How Art Shows Choose Which Weekend to Schedule their Event

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    The Ann Arbor opportunity or how art shows choose which weekend to schedule their event.

    July is the biggest art show month of the year, meaning there are more major art shows in July than any other month. And by major art shows, I mean shows that are nationally recognized as art shows where historically, artists have been able to have great sales of high quality original art. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The outdoor art shows schedule their events based on the time of year and where they are located in the country. Where the people come from who attend is also part of that equation, as in resort areas.

    In general, and there are always exceptions, Florida has the best shows January through mid March. Then the Southwest, including Texas and Oklahoma, March and April. Then the show season moves up North from May through mid October. Within those time periods there are scheduling decisions that take into account, besides the weather and vacation habits of attendees if the show is in a resort area, art shows not wanting to step on other art shows toes. They’ve learned that scheduling shows on the same weekend as an established show can cut down on the number of artist who apply and might compromise on the quality of artwork accepted into the show. On the other hand, by scheduling on adjacent weekends, both shows can benefit in jury fee money and quality of artwork. And if located in close enough proximity, give the artists a chance to do two shows in a row to cut down on traveling expenses. In fact some shows schedule to provide the artists with a sort of tour. For example, Old Town Chicago, Milwaukee Lakefront, Des Moines and Denver’s Cherry Creek all line up on weekends that follow each other and can give the right artist with high quality work an incredible run of shows.

    In general, since running an art show is such a big business, promoters tend to support each other and look to each other for information. The NAIA started this with their show director conferences, where an average of over fifty show directors used to attend and be able to compare notes on what made their event successful or discuss how to make it even more successful.

    Getting back to July. There are more major art shows that month than any other month. Depending on the calendar, there can be up to ten shows on a given weekend, with Ann Arbor formally being the 600 pound gorilla and nobody wanting to step on Ann Arbor’s toes by competing. All the artists want to be there because as they say, that’s where the money is. Maybe ten years (maybe even longer than that) ago that would have been the case. But in the past ten years all shows have slid, Ann Arbor maybe more than most because it used to support over 2,000 artists plus hundreds if not over a thousand squatters, all depending on Ann Arbor to be their most successful show of the year.

    So with sales at Ann Arbor sliding, and expenses either remaining the same or going up, why hasn’t any of those other July shows made an attempt to move to Ann Arbor weekend and give the (no longer) 600 pound gorilla a run for the money. It’s obvious that there will be no trouble getting quality artists to apply. And it will take some of the pressure off the multiple major shows on the weekend prior. For ten years I’ve been suggesting that any show could move and be the hero in the art show world. In fact I’ve suggested it at least three different times to Krasl because they seem to get many cancellations for their show every year.

    Another alternative is a new show, just what July needs. It could be new or an existing show the promoter wants to change dates to go up against Ann Arbor. For it to work in conjunction with all the other July shows, it should probably be within a few hours of the corridor between State College Pennsylvania and Madison Wisconsin to pull artists who are already doing major shows the weekend before.

    I should end by saying that this is all speculation based on some common sense and over thirty years of doing art shows.

    © Larry Berman