"The Independent Artist"
Issue IV, October 2008
continued from page 13
In truth, the marketplace may already be adjusting to cultural changes in American society. If so, the question necessarily arises: Is this a bad thing? If the item is authentic and the person who had a hand in making it is present at the show, then how important is provenance?
The question remains whether or not the demand for American made things in and of itself is compromised by the introduction of fine or applied art from other cultures. Alternatively, the question has to be asked whether or not American art and craft carries the same weight or relevance that it did, say, 20 years ago. In truth, the marketplace ultimately determines all of these issues.
The purpose of this study was not to come up with solutions to the problems that were revealed in this survey. Anyone who expected that this study would yield specific answers or solutions to problems such as a sluggish marketplace will be disappointed. If what over 535 respondents report has a ring of truth to it, then both exhibitors and art shows are going to have to develop alternative methods for re-kindling an interest in American art and craft.
Art Business News (January, 2008) cited a recent statistic (fromThe Conference Board, www.tcb.org) which is revealing. In 2006 there was over $1.7 trillion available in discretionary income. However, 78% of that money was controlled by households earning over $100,000 annually. How does this bode for art and craft shows?
What is apparent is that art shows need to re-dedicate themselves, at least in part, to targeting this segment of the population since this is the population with most of the extra cash on hand.
However, the shows and exhibitors do not simply require that the affluent grace the grounds. Lest it be thought that this survey was taken by a bunch of elitists whose work is overpricedand that is why it is not sellingthe following facts are revealing. Twenty-five percent report that the average retail price of their work is less than $100. Another 33% sell work in the $100 to $300 price range. Eighty-one percent of all respondents to this survey have an average retail price which falls below $750.
It would seem from this that for a majority of exhibitors, the buyers do not necessarily have to be affluent in order to afford the work. Rather, prospective customers simply have to possess a modest bit of discretionary money and the desire to own something that does not look like it belongs on the shelf of a Wal-Mart store.
How important is it for the future of the show marketplace and the prospective customer that what is on display does not appear as if it belongs in some department store? Art and craft shows need to poll visitors to the shows regarding their perceptions about what is being presented for sale.
It wouldnt hurt to poll exhibitors as well; many are in a unique position to recognize work which is good or mediocre, and work which is flagrantly derivative and/or buy-sell. In other words, it may not simply be for a lack of customers that there is a perception the market place is in a state of decline; it may also be due to a perception of the prospective customer that they have seen it all before.
Although no clear paths emerged from this study that will lead to specific remedies for what is perceived as an unpredictable marketplace and escalating operational costs, the results do open the door to further study of the art and craft show industry. Several avenues of exploration to the inquisitive are available, which may ultimately help in restoring the vitality of American art and craft as it applies to the art/craft show marketplace.
The authors wish to thank the National Association of Independent Artists (NAIA), which allowed us unbridled access to any and all of the resources that made this study possible. If the NAIA did not exist as the primary representative of artists/craftspeople that make a living by exhibiting their work at art and craft shows, it is problematic whether or not this study would have come into existence.
Particular recognition is directed toward Ardath Prendergast, former Executive Director of the NAIA. Taking important time away from other responsibilities, she offered invaluable editing suggestions.
Sally Bright, Chair of the NAIA Board stood steadfastly by as this document made its way through some twenty versions. Sally also offered critical suggestions regarding the organization of data as well as editorial support.
Finally, we want to thank John Malone, an author who has written numerous books in the fields of American history, the history of science, and the arts. He graciously lent his expertise and guidance to this project.
-- Sarah Rishel and
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Set aside one hour of your time and walk through your house analyzing which items you consider the most important. Really try to imagine that this is it your one change to do this right. Make a list as you go and then put it somewhere safe and easy to grab in an emergency. Trust me; you wont be thinking rationally if that moment ever comes. Having the list will save you hours and hours of wasted time after the disaster passes trying to reconstruct important aspects of your life. Here is a partial list that we came up with after the fire. I listed them in the order we considered most important:
1. Purse (or wallet) with critical ID and credit cards
2. Laptop Computer (or your hard drive and/or data backups)
3. Animals and some food and water for them
4. Insurance Records (account numbers, policies & addendums)
5. Financial Reports and Records
6. Tax Returns
7. Medical Records
8. Personal Items (photos, memorabilia, artwork, alarm clock, address book, etc)
9. Digital Photos of Home (Rooms and Property)
10. Clothes and Shoes
... help on the way ...
I am sure many of you have gone through similar unexpected catastrophes. Perhaps you have some additional suggestions/tips on how you weathered your disasters. If so, please add your advice to mine. All of us can benefit from being as well prepared as possible.