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I just got an email from an April show that I did in 2019 that had to cancel both their April show and rescheduled October show this year. They said they will be cancelling their 2021 show as well because the venue they use can't guarantee that they'll be able to hold the show since it's indoors and they don't know what the pandemic situation will be like come April. I'm wondering if some of these small shows will just give up after 2 years of cancelling- if they'll find other revenue streams that require less effort than putting on an art fair. Is the pandemic is going to dramatically change the show world by the time it's over, or will shows just start back up like it never happened? Some days I think one way, some days the other. Not that it would be bad to have fewer shows. I think the show circuit is totally over-saturated, at least in my part of the country.

Any of you involved with or connected to a small show that's had to deal with this? What are your thoughts?

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ya know I do think that by the time this is over a lot of marginal shows will be gone but like you mentioned, hoping that will just strengthen the ones that remain. So many shows seem to not make anyone any money. Of course anyone thinking of getting into the business of art shows should be exploring opportunities that this has created.

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Two of the big show producers that I work with regularly have already cancelled all of their 2021 shows. One of them is still hoping to put on an outdoor show in the fall of 2021, but for now we should consider it cancelled. One of these groups had transferred our 2020 booth fees to their 2021 shows, so now they are sending us refunds. Both groups laid off some or all of their show staff :-( 

I think shows will eventually come back. If there is widespread vaccination by late spring or early summer (as the actual scientists are predicting), then that will be the beginning of the end. There is still a lot of demand for handmade work, as many of us are experiencing. The first year when real shows are allowed again will be gangbusters for all of us. 

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Its a reshuffling of the show deck. Two of my show pushed back the fees for 2021. One is midsummer the other in the fall. They are in a holding pattern and can withstand a few years off if needed. The mom and pop shows may be history. I am on a board who runs a 100 booth show. We are in a wait and see but need to decide for our fall show by late spring. My guess is its not going to happen. Our funds are find in the bank as our nonprofit was on great foundation $ wise to start with.

In the long run we will be at a new normal show wise I feel. Show will be back. Whats going to change is old timers like me may be done with them. I know for sure I'm not going to do a few but that was the plan before covid and I'm sticking to it.My local sales have reminded me that I do not have to do shows if I do not want to. I still love 3 shows and will do them in one to two years but I plan at 70 do not be doing shows (well maybe my local one we will see) . There are no young potters taking over for me at most of these shows but I have mentioned this before here in the west.My guess is we have another year of only a fews shows.

Two shows I did for 25 years in AZ are happening in next two months. That state I feel is nuts for this but I have a full timer friend who is doing both of them. I'll elaborate more later on precautions at this shows .

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On 10/27/2020 at 1:18 PM, neilestrick said:

I just got an email from an April show that I did in 2019 that had to cancel both their April show and rescheduled October show this year. They said they will be cancelling their 2021 show as well because the venue they use can't guarantee that they'll be able to hold the show since it's indoors and they don't know what the pandemic situation will be like come April. I'm wondering if some of these small shows will just give up after 2 years of cancelling- if they'll find other revenue streams that require less effort than putting on an art fair. Is the pandemic is going to dramatically change the show world by the time it's over, or will shows just start back up like it never happened? Some days I think one way, some days the other. Not that it would be bad to have fewer shows. I think the show circuit is totally over-saturated, at least in my part of the country.

Any of you involved with or connected to a small show that's had to deal with this? What are your thoughts?

I completely agree with you @neilestrickabout the oversaturation.  I feel that many organizations look at the vendors as color and draw for their event.  Not as a sales opportunity for vendors.  It took me a few years, and many threads of listening to you all that have participated in shows to realize the difference between a sales event and a brutally hard day in the sun/wind/cold/ice/rain loading and unloading pots and gear.  I had gotten very selective about the shows that I participated in prior to Covid.  Taking advice from @GEP I made a point to visit different shows to see if it would be a good fit for me.   Many were not. 

Personally I believe that we will see some natural selection as far as the shows eliminating some of the smaller ones.  But I do think shows will make a resurgence in 2021 in places in Colorado.  Many of the towns big and small depend on the tourist dollar.  And shows and events with vendors are a big part of that.  Like @Mark C. I have 2 or 3 shows that I really like.  And they are holiday shows.  Other than that, I am finding other ways to sell my wares.  The vaccine is on the horizon, so we can all begin to get out in the world again.  But this year has shown everyone what is important and what isn't.  Maybe being on the craftshow/art show circuit isn't that important for either vendors or customers.  

Roberta

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The wholesale gallery sector never really recovered from the last recession. So many gallery owners either retired, or went under, during that time. They have not been replaced by new ones. This was around the time that Etsy appeared, so a big slice of artists became online merchants in the absence of galleries, and the rest is history. I remember the tension back then of galleries realizing they were now competing with their own artists. 

Shows are now going through a similar challenge, we’ll see which ones survive. The thing is, online selling is not inherently better than shows. And the online marketplace is maybe more oversaturated than the show circuit, given that there are very low barriers for participation there. That’s why I think shows will make a come back.

I had been mulling over retirement for a few years. In the past few months, I have considered retiring now, while being forced to take a break from shows. But I’ve decided against that. I am going to do it on my own terms, which involves saying goodbye and thank you properly to all of the people who have been supportive of my work. So I am going to stick around until I can do at least one more circuit of shows. The pandemic does not get the last word! 

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I feel very much the same way as GEP

(I am going to do it on my own terms, which involves saying goodbye and thank you properly to all of the people who have been supportive of my work. So I am going to stick around until I can do at least one more circuit of shows. The pandemic does not get the last word!)

I just shipped out 5 boxes of pots and it reminded me that I do not like that way of selling pots-yes I can do some but it but if thats the only way -I'm out

The invoicing -paypaling-the emails back and forth-the texting-just not that much fun for money.The feedback from making a pot and selling to the end user in person is for me where its at.

The other issue at least for me is I'm a potter and have been for 45 years and its an idenity thing. I still like many parts of being a potter. I think to some degree i'll always be a potter. So how in the long run this plays out will not be about economics but more what I feel comfortable with doing just a little with clay. I also think my health (at least mentally) has kept me in shape being a potter.I have a zillion interests and clay is just one. Abet they all involve heavy objects which is hard on the body.

 
Edited by Mark C.
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ya know maybe you guys should rethink it a bit. Does retiring have to be a complete walk away? Maybe retiring is just changing what you do. Maybe your pottery moves more toward something that shakes things up and is less about paying bills and more about enjoyment. We have talked about when we get past the age we want to be lifting 50 pound boxes of clay moving to Egyptian Paste Jewelry and other small items.

Retirement that I've seen seems to be best with a work routine of some sort. I don't know why but it seems the happiest and healthiest old people in my family have been the ones with a schedule to keep.  

   

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31 minutes ago, Stephen said:

ya know maybe you guys should rethink it a bit. Does retiring have to be a complete walk away? Maybe retiring is just changing what you do. Maybe your pottery moves more toward something that shakes things up and is less about paying bills and more about enjoyment. We have talked about when we get past the age we want to be lifting 50 pound boxes of clay moving to Egyptian Paste Jewelry and other small items.

Retirement that I've seen seems to be best with a work routine of some sort. I don't know why but it seems the happiest and healthiest old people in my family have been the ones with a schedule to keep.  

   

I do not plan on walking away-its just the show part that will go first as shows are the hardest. I then still have 9 outlets some moving large volumes of work some not so large  locally. Those I will pair  down over time. I have no plans to be done with pottery. I like being a potter and I think that will always be my driver. The work routine is part of that.

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