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Not all shows are created equal . . . April 2010

Editor’s note:  The following letter pertains to shows that are taking place in the same location as the Meet the Artists & Artisans (MTA&A) shows in Connecticut. Those shows are not affiliated with MTA&A.

I am concerned for the wellbeing and prosperity of exhibitors who are not aware of the actual quality and status of shows. Because a show is in the same region/place as a successful, well-advertised and long-established show does not mean that it has the same prestige and criteria. Claiming that a show is juried, unfortunately, does not mean juried in the usual sense but “juried” with your payment. 

“Imitation is a sincere form of flattery, but the signature of an inferior person.” Unrecognized, badly reviewed fairs hoping to ride on the coattails of conscientiously organized shows care little for the sales of their participants. They charge a low fee and give little in return. They are taxexempt, paying no advertising costs for newspapers, magazines, radio [and] TV ads, though it is half the cost of a premier show. [They do not] pay … for full-time police security to protect the display contents overnight for the weekend, just a crossing guard during the hours of the fair. [Theyhave] no directional signage for customers to locate the show, [and there are] no posters, banners, billboards or customer parking
available. [Those] are red-flag warnings of unprofessional and uncaring promoters.

When advertising for new vendors, their listings are uncomfortably similar to the award-winning show in the same area. No assigned spaces means first-come, first-served, and is a higgledy-piggledy confused mess of disorder, resembling a nondescript and disorganized flea market, with same-category vendors next to each other, and no concern for appearance and quality of work shown.

A two-day fair that [allows exhibitors to exhibit on either] one day of two [and has] a setup time prior to the closing [of] first day will cause havoc with tents and displays being carried in, and vans all over the place unloading. This causes buying customers to leave.

If there are few exhibitor parking spaces nearby and vendors can park anywhere, where does the customer park? If the primary focus for this fair is to raise organizational funds with vendor fees, food, rock concerts, rummage sales [and] pony rides, then the continuation to accept the same buy/sell, imported junk makes this fair inane, with vendors secondary in the lineup.

Attracting participants from distant areas who must pay for lodging and travel expenses, thinking it is a respected, high-criteria show, is sheer misrepresentation [and hurts] thecreative people who do original work.

I feel artists and handcrafters have had a struggle to be unique in their fields of endeavor. [With MTA&A shows], attention is given them for personal promotion of their continuing efforts, placing them with non-competing neighbors who complement their work [and] keeping them in the same location for returning collectors. [We also take pride in] advising to enhance their displays, giving additional space to demonstrating exhibitors, paying the police ‘round the clock to protect their booths, hiring pleasant booth sitters, advertising in every possible media including pedi-cabs to announce the show, making my shows an attractive and appealing event, policing the parking for customers’ ease and eliminating anyone who breaches the rules (such as buy/sell vendors).

Soft classical music without amplification achieves a charming, cultured and relaxing atmosphere for discussions with potential customers. … Mentoring, publicizing, recognizing and supporting talented, skilled, creative people is a joyous occupation. Observing their growth and success is my reward for almost five decades organizing MTA&A.

 

Denise Morris Curt
Director, MTA&A
Milford, Connecticut

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