It all comes down to economics

Oh gosh, my business education is peeking out again.  But seriously, Art business is business, and should demand to be evaluated just like any other business using the metrics and measures of business.  Right?

When we plan our schedule for the year, and when we search for galleries and shops to place our products economics is at the forefront of  our planning.   Economics drives the success or failure of an event.  Sometimes events are predictably wonderful – We have participated in one such show that draws a patronage that seem to be unaffected by the subtle shift and changes of our economy.  But know this – that type of show or event is incredibly rare.  Incredibly so especially post the economic devastation of 2009-2012.

Prediction of the event is as much an art as it is a science.  In my reading I have found there are a number of academicians involved in the effort to predict business performance based on economic theory.  Lets step back and say that economic theory is all based on social behavior and perceptions of the world around us.   Without getting totally engrossed in an economics lesson it might be helpful to consider perceptions and factors that might impact the outcome.

  • State of the Economy of our nation/world
  • Current expendable/spendable income
  • perception of the stability of employment
  • perception of the art fair / artist’s goods
  • consumer’s need or desire to spend
  • the actual product

Everything boils down to “can i afford it!”, and in these days of economic sluggishness the theme is not buy buy buy, but wait , wait, wait.  The news media feeds us with thoughts that our national economy has rebounded, and jobs have increased, but the truth is a majority of the middle class is just treading water- and the expendable income once set aside for fun, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenditures no longer exists.  And many who once were big patrons of art fairs and art markets have been compelled to use restraint in spending because of their own economic parameters.

Can you predict if an art fair will be successful?  To some extent it should be possible, yet the volitility of the industry has made it more challenging to work through.  An event can be exceptiona one year, and the same event, same mailing list, and same opportunity will be sluggish the next.

Here are a few things we consider when applying to shows:

  • How many people attend?  Promoters often want to have a handle on this, and they try to determine where patrons are coming from so they can market to them in the future.  We have done small shows that have had big crowds, and big shows with smaller crowds.
  • Where is the event located?  Location is what it is about.  Is it an affluent community with good parking?  or is it a challenging neighborhood where you would feel uncomfortable?
  • How is the economy in that location?  The challenges of the US economy is not equally presented, but varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, region to region.
  • What do other artists say about their experience with the event?

Spend the time to do your research…. plan well, and you can more accurately predict the outcome.