Spring 2001 Director's Conference

Monday, April 23, 2001
Ft Worth, TX

There was a breakfast from 8am to 9am for participants.

Larry Oliverson welcomed everyone and talked about the great mutual benefits that the last two conferences have afforded both artists and art fair directors. Everyone introduced themselves with the art fair directors relating with which show they were affiliated and NAIA members telling their area of responsibility within NAIA.

Agenda Item: Slide Information Statements-Universal/Online applications

Larry introduced Anthony Radich and Matthew Saunders of the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) who were there to give a presentation about creating a Universal Online Application (UOA). The concept of a simplified universal application had been discussed earlier but putting it online was first suggested by directors at an IFEA conference. Larry Oliverson of the NAIA, Shary Brown of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, and Stephen King of MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival met with WESTAF in Chicago last year to further explore the concept (two other directors had emergency cancellations). The presentation by Radich and Saunders was the result of that meeting.

Radich and Saunders introduced themselves and related their backgrounds. They told the group about WESTAF. WESTAF concentrates their efforts primarily in the 12 western states and works with arts agencies and organizations. They maintain an on line Artist Register which they previewed for the group.

Radich and Saunders work with the technology arm of WESTAF assisting arts groups in ways to reduce work load through technology in order to keep them viable and healthy. They are interested in the Universal Online Application project as a benefit for both artists and art festivals. Artists would be able to apply to art fairs more efficiently by filling out an application only once for several shows. Fair directors indicated that the majority of their applications arrive postmarked close to the deadline date. Art festivals would benefit by reduced paperwork and data entry. The system is a cross platform system that would allow any art festival to then plug the data into any programs they have.

Radich and Saunders outlined the basic concept of the UOA: There would be a single application form on a site that would be managed by a server. Artists would go to this online site, fill out the application only once and then select the fairs to which he/she wanted to apply. The application would then be sent to a "mail box" for each show and then sent to each show address. They stressed the importance for each show to maintain its individuality in the design of the UOA. This individuality could be achieved with the addition of pop-up menus and other methods.

Matthew Saunders discussed the technical aspect of the UOA. He stated that accessibility to the internet is increasingly becoming a non-issue because most people have ready access to the internet either through their own computers or library computers. He cited that many grant organizations successfully use online applications. Art fair organizations would not have to upgrade computer systems or have specialized software to utilize the UOL as the software would be housed on the site on the internet. Jury fees and booth fees could be paid either by credit card or electronic funds transfer via secure systems or sent in by check with the slides which would still be sent via regular mail. Any required signatures on the applications could be sent via an electronic signatures program or the statement could be printed out, signed and sent in with the slides. There would be an automated backup system to eliminate any lost applications and data.

Mr. Saunders stressed that there would be a transition period when art festivals would be accepting both hard copy and online applications. If such a UOA were to be utilized, its implementation would be a gradual process. Only a few art festivals would be added at any one time in order to work out any "bugs". A person on the art festival's staff would have to be trained in the system.

Core elements of the UOA were described:

The following fields were discussed as possible inclusions in the UOA:

It was stressed that in designing the UOA, it should be kept in mind that only important and vital information should be included in the basic design and other items could be entered in individual show pop-up menus.

Other questions/answers and discussions were:

Mr. Radich and Mr. Saunders summed up that they would use the information gathered at the conference to further refine the UOA and would explore funding for the project. The WESTAF notes can be reviewed at naia-artists.org/work/westaf.htm

Agenda Item: Jury Selection/Instruction

Rick Foris, NAIA Category Advisor Chairman, discussed the importance of imparting clear instructions to the slide jurors. Instructions should also include a prospectus for the show, mission statement of the festival, what is expected of the jurors, and whether or not the show desires a balance in categories. All of the above should be in writing and also imparted verbally.

There was discussion on using an exhibiting artist on the slide jury. NAIA advocates that shows include an active art festival artist as one of their panel of jurors. Discussion followed as to whether that artist should/could be an award winner, someone who is not doing the show at all, or one who is nominated by artists from the previous year's show like the American Crafts Council practices.

There was discussion as to what art festival directors expect of the booth slide, how and why it is used. The primary expectations were based on a desire to view the artist's body of work in addition to specific samples and to view the artist's presentation. Booth slides also give a preview of what the show will look like and serve as a visual "contract" between the artist and the show. There was consensus that the show should impart this information to the artists through their show prospectus as well as imparting this information to the slide jurors.

The show directors wished to relay to the artists that NO NAMES or FACES of the artist should appear in the booth slide. Many artists are still doing this.

The topic of Rules Enforcement came up periodically in numerous contexts and the importance of shows to:

  1. Make rules that are enforceable
  2. Enforce their rules
  3. Talk directly to the artist when there is an issue

One director asked what shows charged for their jury fees. Mitch Lyons asked about what jurors were paid. Discussion of these questions was reserved for the Open Agenda at the end of the day.

Agenda Item: Computerized Jury Score Tabulation - A presentation by Rick Bryant and Pam Lautsch from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts

Larry Oliverson introduced Rick Bryant of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and Pam Lautsch, a long-time volunteer of the Festival. He stated that it is helpful for shows to be able to get instant feedback of the jury results and that CPFA has devised a system that does just that.

Rick and Pam began by describing their system as it had been in the past and what problems they saw in that system which prompted them to instigate change in 1994. Pam devised this system using a Microsoft Access application. This is a database that is capable of being sorted by query and is a relational based system as opposed to a flat file based system.


Juror Arrival:

File Compilation:

Problems that Occur:




Short-term Enhancements:


Anticipated Changes:

Follow-up Discussion:

Agenda Item: Audience Development - Public Education - Working with the Media- Interpreting "Quality" in Events

Larry Oliverson presented a paper written by Edward Avila titled, "Quality in the Art Shows" which was used as a jumping off point for this discussion. One of Mr. Avila's suggestions is that a "quality" art festival can best be determined by incorporating a position of an art director in addition to an event director. Since an event director may or may not be knowledgeable about art, it would be the function of the art director to put together a jury panel that would ensure a quality show. The art director would also be sensitive to the needs of the artists at the show.

A suggestion was made to explore on-site jurying.

Working with the Media was discussed. Festivals need information from the artists to provide to the media for advertising. It was recommended that a media consultant be invited to the next Directors' Conference to discuss how shows and artists can get a better response from the media. It was mentioned that the media often concentrates on the shock factor and just wants to know what went badly. The media needs a focus and often will select an artist or couple of artists on which to focus.

Recommendations included:

Additional Items of Discussion:

Open Agenda (Topics Determined by Attendees)

Jury fees:
How is a jury fee determined?

Award Money:

----Day 2 - Tuesday, April 24, 2001----

8:00am-9:00am - Breakfast

9:00 am
President Larry Oliverson greeted everyone. Larry introduced Ardath Prendergast of ArtScape in Atlanta and Jennifer Zimmerman of Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh.

Ardath and Jennifer said that they wanted to demonstrate one method that they developed for keeping artists in line at the shows. Artists Ken Huff and Lynn Whipple volunteered to be the "out-of-line artists." To wild applause and laughs, Ardath and Jennifer proceeded to lasso Lynn and Ken with the lariats they had purchased the evening before while out on the town in Fort Worth!

Larry reviewed some of the topics of yesterday clarifying some of the information.

The NAIA will send to all Directors' Conference participants the revised notes by Anthony Radich and Matthew Saunders of WESTAF. Larry emphasized that the on-line application is a working model only and not final in any way.

Agenda Item: Jury Selection/Instruction (continued from previous day)

JoAnn Brown of the American Craft Council discussed their jury procedure and its history. She stated that many years ago each ACC show was juried separately with artists from different media. Nine years ago ACC went to a media jury. In this system each medium is juried by nine jurors comprised of the following: three wholesale buyers or gallery owners who sell the medium and six crafts people who work within that medium. The crafts person juror is self-nominated to a field of twelve candidates and only crafts people who have exhibited at an ACC show in the previous year are eligible to self-nominate. They are then selected by a vote of all exhibitors within that medium from the previous year's ACC shows. The following points were made:

The question was raised as to whether ACC would ever open their shows to show fine art in addition to crafts. Ms. Brown indicated that the mission statement for ACC is that it is a craft council created for the education on craft. It would take a major change in policy to add fine art. She also said that the line between fine art and craft is often a very fine one.

Larry pointed out that a paper prepared by Board Member/Artist Pamela Hill lists all of the features of the ACC jury system and is included in each participant's packet of materials.

It was also indicated that many craft people think very highly of the ACC jury process.

Larry wished to change today's agenda a bit since we did not discuss Promoting Professionalism or pet peeves in the Open Agenda from the day before. Larry also wanted participants to think about ideas for future conference planning. He stated that he asked participants for suggestions for this year's conference but didn't get any. He would really like to have more suggestions from the directors. A comment was made that it should dovetail with a festival like MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival.

Agenda Item: Attracting Artists to your Show - Optimizing Effectiveness of Festival Web Sites

Artist and NAIA Board member Cynthia Davis presented a list of features that make for effective festival web sites for the artist, the patron, and the festival. She discussed how she uses festival web sites to give more information to her customers/clients and to entice them to come to the show. Various features including links to artists' own web sites and how festival web sites can be an effective advertising tool were included.

Stephen King of the MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival wished the participants to know that the web site for his show won the Pinnacle Award at the IFEC conference. The MAIN ST. Fort Worth web site was added to the list of Effective Festival Web Sites prepared by Cynthia Davis.

Discussion followed:

Directors were asked to write down their web site URLs for the NAIA to have on file.

ArtScape and Smoky Hill River Festival created e-mail post cards for artists and patrons. These cards were accessible from the ArtScape web site and could be sent to anyone.

The question was raised as to whether the e-mail addresses from these post cards would be available to the festival through this process. Privacy issues of releasing e-mail addresses were cited.

It was mentioned that artists could link from their sites to the festival web sites.

Agenda Item: Production Studios - Artistic Collaborations - Conflict Resolution

The issues of show policies on production studios, artistic collaborations and conflict resolution was discussed. In participants' packets were documents prepared by NAIA Board Member Cynthia Davis. These documents quoted and illustrated the wide range of show policies on production studios, artistic collaborations and rules enforcement. The document on shows that had actual conflict resolution policies in place and cited in their prospectus included only two shows: the Cherry Creek Art Festival and the Michigan Guild of Artists and Artisans.

It was stated that it is important that show directors share information. Mention was made of a lawsuit of an artist who is suing a show because he felt he was unfairly eliminated from the show when he was accused of having a production studio.

A story was related of an artist at the Cherry Creek Art Festival who was accused by several artists of not doing all of her own work. The director asked the artist to help him defend her and to send him a videotape of her actually working and making the pieces.

He then asked a professional craftsperson in her medium to review the tape. The artist was exonerated.

A key issue is that many festivals are a venue for individual artists who produce their own work. Directors need to evaluate for their shows what to do when an artist becomes successful and moves more into production methods. Are they still appropriate to [your] festival?

The question was raised, "What if you have artists who have successful galleries where they have a line of production work and also a separate line of non-production work?

One show sends a contract specifically prepared for each category to each accepted artist in that category. This contract reiterates the rules outlined in the prospectus pertinent to that category and requires the signature of the artist. All artists except the previous years award winners are required to sign a contract. One director noted that if festivals are sending different things to different groups, they might be opening themselves up to lawsuits. Consistency may be very important.

The Artist Statement helps address some of these issues. It started out as a disclosure statement and the name was later changed. Its primary purpose is to educate the public. The initial response of some artists to the Artists Statement was somewhat defensive.

One director said that shows are not necessarily against production studios and do not wish to prevent any artist from making a living, but can limit the type of work an artist brings to a show.

When artists are going to many shows per weekend, the question of whether it is a production studio is raised. Shows must determine what the line is between employing an assistant and running a production studio. One director defined it this way: an assistant would help with each piece but the artist would participate significantly with each piece. A production studio does not do this: the artist designs and the workers make the work. Another director cited the difficulty in proving this and expressed a need for a seminar on what is a production studio.

The question was raised about whether it is legal for a show to choose who is in their show? Bill Charney discussed a decision by the Supreme Court on events taking place on public streets. It stated that producers do have a right to choose who is in their show, but the rules must be written and uniformly applied. The use of public land has to do with non-discrimination issues. A city permit effectively creates private property temporarily out of public property.

Conflict Resolution:

Reference was made to the paper on Conflict Resolution. It was emphasized that shows need to define their terms. Doing so will help with rule enforcement. It was recognized that conflict is not easy for anyone.

One director related a story where a musical instrument maker brought tapes to sell separately from his instruments instead of using them strictly for demonstration purposes. He insisted that the tapes were in his booth slide and he was accepted into the show. The next day the artist returned with an attorney in his booth. The festival caved in and let him stay. He did not reapply the next year. When the director was asked if they would do anything differently the next time, she said that artists would be conditionally accepted to the show.

Various participants made recommendations and comments:

Directors stated that, at IFEA conferences, it was useful to have the NAIA present. Also, in- depth presentations on a specific medium were very helpful in providing a deeper understanding of that medium. The following presentation continues that tradition.

Agenda Item: Understanding the Use of Digital Technologies in the Art World, a Presentation by artists Ken Huff and Don Ament

Digital artist Ken Huff presented his detailed paper, (SHIFT+CTRL+A(RT): "The Use of Digital Tools in the Visual Arts." Copies of the paper were available to all participants to take home. The paper along with Ken's visual presentation was beneficial in assisting directors and artists equally in a deeper understanding of the medium of digital art. Ken's paper included a terminology list and examples of the work done by some digital artists. He illustrated the individuality and diversity among the artists, provided the artists' statements, a list of resources, and a history of digital art. Ken also expressed his personal opinion of the issues facing the digital artist today.

Ken asked everyone to please read his paper and contact him with any questions or clarifications. He wants to make the paper an ongoing resource. He will send a revision of the paper to anyone who asks. Ken is continually updating his paper to reflect the rapidly changing technology.

There was a previous discussion about having artists jury slides scanned and then either projected digitally or displayed on a computer. Ken showed to the participants the effect of showing scanned slides projected digitally and how the images suffer in quality. It illustrates the importance of the system and the needs for calibration. It was made clear that the concerns of the artist are to make their work look the best.

Ken then went on to show how artists in many media are using the computer to aid them in their work. Painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation, and photography were a few categories mentioned. This led to the next discussion by Don Ament.

Don Ament, photographer and NAIA Board member, opened his remarks by acknowledging his experience of being at this meeting and the profound sense of humility of being in the same room with so many positive and constructive people.

Don stated he was not going to talk about the technical aspect of using the computer with photography. Don discussed the use of digital technology as it pertains specifically to the photography category and to the emotion and vision of the photographic artist.

To illustrate emotion in photography, he passed around an image he received on e-mail. Was it a "manufactured" image or was it "real". There sometimes is a suspicion that a photograph may be digitally altered and that, somehow, makes it a lesser photograph. What is pure photography or straight photography? Don stated that there is no such thing. Even Ansel Adams referred to his photographs as "my interpretation" because he would use darkroom techniques to enhance the emotional appeal of his photographs. What has been lost is the naivete that photographs never lie. Don then passed around examples of a traditional photographic print and a digital print of the same image. He suggested that the difference between the two was primarily attributed to different interpretations rather than different technical factors. His personal feelings are that the technology used is secondary to the emotion and vision of the image and that digital output should be allowed in the photography category. As a counterpoint to this personal perspective, a paper prepared by Les Slesnik opposing the use of digital technologies in photography was discussed and a copy was presented to the participants.

Discussion followed regarding the role of digital technology in relation to various category classifications as well as to the goals of individual art festivals.

Agenda Item: Open Agenda - Pet Peeves - Future Conference Planning

Future Conference Planning:

This conference was reduced to one and a half days to assist people who were attending other events. Larry asked for feedback on the length of the conference. One director stated that many issues need attention and more time was desirable. The question was raised as to where the site of the next conference would be. It was felt that the Midwest is ideal because it allows easier air connections. Larry cited that the IFEA Visual Arts Affinity Group was another opportunity for directors to get together. He wanted to know if there was a consensus that the directors wanted the next conference to be scheduled in conjunction with another show. There was a resounding yes. The months mentioned were late March, early April, and October. It was mentioned that to keep expenses down that hub cities should be considered when deciding on a location.

What shows?

There are already conflicts with show boards of directors and the IFEA conference in October.

It was requested that the NAIA start advance planning as soon as possible.

Larry stressed that the input of directors is important and needed especially for ideas for the agenda.

Suggested agenda items were:

Other Recommendations:

Larry explained that each member of the NAIA board, like all other individuals, is entitled to their own personal opinion on various issues. For policies decided as an organization, the board speaks with one voice. It is important to make that distinction and if there is ever any uncertainty, clarification is encouraged. Larry also asked that if any directors are approached with erroneous information concerning the organization that the inaccurate information be corrected immediately. Most importantly it is critical to keep the lines of communication open. The NAIA encourages feedback from any director.

Bill Charney stated that building critical mass is important to the NAIA being recognized. He said that Larry Oliverson is a better CEO of this organization than many of those who head other professional organizations. The NAIA Board gives selflessly to create a better future. Bill urged the other directors to participate in talking to artists about joining the NAIA.

Ardath Prendergast said that the ArtScape web site has a link to the NAIA web site.

Director's Pet Peeves (and responses):

Other comments:

After a day and one half of meaningful communication, the meeting was adjourned.

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS (to be added shortly)