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have been possible without spousal help or some other revenue stream. For example, 81% of exhibitors said that they rely on additional income beyond art shows while 27% have either a full-time or a part-time job. Forty-one percent rely on spousal help. Clearly, without spousal help many exhibitors would either have to curtail their show itinerary or quit altogether.
Finally, the question was asked, If you have expressed an opinion that there is a waning interest in American art/craft what in your view can be done about the situation? Far and away, the most prevalent response had to do with developing a national marketing campaign in order to educate the population about American Art & Craft. Another solution had to do with organizing an Art Show Director/Artist-Craftsperson summit.
The reasoning appears to be that collective brainstorming might yield a solution about the slumping market and mediocre sales. Twenty-eight percent of respondents indicated that there is a need to entirely revamp the way art/craft is marketed, while 15% felt that nothing can be done because the issues are too complex.
Limitations of this Study
All surveys pose problems with respect to the data. Some surveys attempt to target a single issue in order to isolate and cotrol the questions. Others, such as this one, apply a modified shotgun approach in order to study a population. In the former situation, focusing on single issues can result in conclusions which are short-sighted. Conversely, the problem with taking a shotgun-style approach to fact-gathering is that the questionnaire may become confusing or lose sight of its objectives. There is the risk that conclusions, which are drawn from the study, will fly off in too many directions. A decision had to be made, and since so little is actually known about the attitudes, situations, and future plans of exhibitors, the authors chose the latter approach.
One problem with this survey was that several of the questions were perhaps awkwardly phrased and some respondents may have passed over them as a result. For the same reason, several questions offered a confusing array of responses that seem to frustrate a small percentage of the participants and these questions were set aside as well. It is estimated that 7% of the questions fit this description.
An important demographic question, which was overlooked, has to do with where a respondent lived. It would have been very helpful to know what percentages of the responses were coming from the west as opposed to the midwest or east.
This information in turn could have been cross-referenced with questions in other categories and the resulting data would have rested on more solid ground. An example of connecting data points would involve looking at respondents that lived in the midwest with information such as gross income or price point of objects for sale. In short, there is no practicable way of knowing whether the results of this survey are, say, skewed by a preponderance of the responses coming from exhibitors living in the south, or the south and midwest.
Another problem with this study is that many of the questions ask for an opinion, so what is really gathered here are subjective interpretations about conditions as they are perceived by the respondent. An example of an opinion-based question is #53, regarding prospects for making a living doing shows looking forward. Thirty-five percent of artists who are pessimistic about the marketplace believe that the reason for this is because competition is squeezing them out of the marketplace. In truth, there are no hard facts to support this assessment.
It would have been very helpful if a way had been found to do a follow up studysay in 5 yearsin order to see whether or not the attitudes or intentions of the participants had significantly changed. That opportunity was lost because it was thought respondents might be reluctant to answer in-depth questions about debt load and health issues if they had to provide their names.
Finally, a truly scientific approach would have involved the utilization of a statistical test or tests in order to more accurately determine whether or not there were real (mathematical) relationships between various categories that were targeted. The authors had intended originally to use a statistical approach to analyzing the data. The idea was to use something like a Pearson Product Moment Correlation test; however, for a number of methodological reasons and time constraints, this evaluative approach had to be put aside.
Nevertheless, definite indications do emerge from the data.
Synopsis of Concerns as Indicated by the Survey
Here is a brief review of the major issues which are of concern to the group that participated in this survey:
-- The erosion of the interest in what is identified as American Art/Craft in light of other influences.
-- An aging population of prospective buyers and a commensurate loss of dedicated art/craft collectors.
-- The increase in art/craft shows that have other agendas besides bringing a buying pubic together with quality producers of art/craft.