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  • 412-401-8100
    CHESWICK, PA 15024

  • March 17, 2014

    125, 300, 450 or more

    How many booths are too many at an art show?

    There was a recent uproar from artists when Bayou City went from 300 booths to 450 booths after everyone had applied and the application was closed. When they were late in sending out the space assignments, it was because they were busy calling wait listed and rejected artists offering them non prime location spaces so they could boost show revenue by an additional $75,000. Where are artist advisors when you need them? Bayou City didn’t even consider that they were breaking their own contract. ZAPP has a misrepresentation clause for artists when they sign up but not a standards or best practices clause with their art show clients. Hopefully that will change in the future so something like this doesn’t happen again.

    When things like this happen, it really points out the disconnect between artist needs and art show (or should we call them festivals) needs. Since art shows are becoming more like family festivals offering things other than art, we (artists) obviously need them more than they need us.

    Not a plug for Paragon but a good formula
    This is not meant to be a plug for Paragon. But other shows might want to look at Bill Kinney’s formula as a way to run an art show that’s successful for the artists. And I’m not saying every artist that does a Paragon show is successful. But the success rate is about 70% and none of the shows have over 127 spaces. Prime advertising and good sponsorship combined with fewer booths and high quality artwork is the Paragon formula for a successful art show. If you’re reading this and thinking it would be a good time to apply to a Paragon show, be prepared to compete against the same high quality artists who get into the top shows in the country. Bill has a loyal following of experienced artists who understand that his shows put artists into situations that give them a better than average chance of success. This is unlike promoters who increase the number of booth spaces and/or let buy sell in to fill shows. There’s a reason why the better shows are more difficult to get into.

    There are quite a few difficult to get into top shows that keep the number of artist spaces low, especially in proportion to the large attendance they get.
    Cherry Creek – 240
    Main Street Fort Worth – 223
    Des Moines – 195
    St. Louis – 181
    Longs Park – 200
    Armonk – 185
    Winter Park – 225

    © Larry Berman