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Art of the Call Podcast: Edmonds Arts Festival in Edmonds Washington with Patti Sullivan, Dawn McLellan and JB Halverson
Here's another Art of the Call video podcast where we ask directors, artists and curators to talk about the call for entry process.

In this video, Patti Sullivan, Dawn McLellan and JB Halverson talk about:


We have a standard that we've always accepted: jewelry, painting photography, sculpture, ceramics, 2D, 3D, mixed media
Cyberart: anything that has been created only by the computer - somebody who knows painting you can do all of that in the computer - it is one of those categories that is in great dispute - some of the artists feel that way (that it's not real art) themselves, let alone the public - it's more accepted now than it was 10 years ago, there are those gray areas - there's also that point where a photo has been so manipulated - is it even a photograph anymore? You will have controversy about that every year. You have to go there and start working with it - and it will evolve like everything else

The festival is not just for artists. Yes, we showcase artists and they are the heart of it - but it's for the community and we get over 75,000 people and they all have different tastes

We've brought in stuff the team doesn't necessarily like but you've got to move forward, you can't stay in the past - if it brings in more teenagers, young adults or whatever, that's great because they're the next generation buying art, so we watch that

The dialog about art is part of the point of it - we want to let the community see not just what they're used to and what they like

Last year the children's area brought in a chalk artist - he was underground and he took all these parking spaces and did this amazing drawing - it generated lots of conversation, people thought it was pretty amazing

Sponsorship & funding

We get some sponsorship and we have a new man who's working on us with that

The difficulty is that if you get totally sponsor dependent - sometimes they feel like they get a say in what's going on there - but the worst thing is that if they decide they don't want to fund it then you are totally stuck

We pay for our own festival - we have sponsors who will give us $2500, $1000, some people $500 some people in kind - that's how we work

We are right now a free festival, how long we'll be able to maintain that we don't know - it gets more and more expensive - you write a check for Sani-cans for $16,000 for 4 days, it's crazy

And we're totally, except for 1 person, volunteer run
Sponsorship is something we'd like to develop a little bit better if we can - we'd love to stay free if we can

Free vs paid entry

Depends on the public that's coming to see you - the difficulty of where are the entries going to be - right now we're able to enter from numerous areas along the show, we're not locked up at all

Will it mean less people coming if we finally charge for entry - and then what will that entry fee go to?

It would be fantastic, being able to give more back to the community and maybe put on a bigger show or take care of those things that are becoming more expensive, the venue that we're renting, the security we have to pay - storage, we're getting more stuff so we have to get more storage. Insurance has gone through the roof. We pay well over $10,000 for insurance and another $10,000 for event insurance - it's a huge chunk of our budget.

What's going on where?

On the plaza we do traditional art

On the other side we have a field with over 200 fine artists in booths, a lot of entertaining, all the food

In the center in the area that was a school we have the juried art gallery with paintings, photography, sculpture - it's all inside - it's a nice quiet area - we also have our student art in there as well - a nationally recognised student art program so art teachers from the schools work with us and bring their childrens' art to the school - it's all displayed in the hallways.

We also have a juried student art show. A lot of our focus is children and families

Below the plaza we have a children's art place where they can do art for free with music, face painting

The prospectus, application and jury process

We leverage what we've said in years past

Make sure the dates and maps are correct

Send it out to mailing list

Our web site has a copy of the prospectus

For artists just saying hey I'd like to apply, select the category and 3 images of their art and one of their booth

We have a professional jurying session with 5 jurors, 500 entries.

We do an accept, deny and small amount of waitlist people

People that are selected go back to the web, pay for the booth, select placement (corner, inline etc)

The prospectus explains that whole process

We have to have 2: one for the artworks booth and one for the juried galleries - lot of crossover since since field artists also submit to the juried show

Sizing is important, something that's either a miniature or for the regular show - the range from big to small


We started out as a juried show, it began in the firehouse - a small show - only about 50 artists, when we moved we had this field we could fill up with artists in action showing the public how they made their art - it has evolved more into connecting with the artists and the artists can chat and sell their wares.

The festival is 56 years old, it did start as a way for the community artists to show their work in the downtown business area and sell it if they could

Evolved to an event that pulls in 50 to 70 thousand people

We have artists that sell over $10,000 worth of inventory

The juried gallery is a place for artists that don't have enough for a booth or are getting started or some very successful artists that don't want to do a booth but would love to show their work - and we also give awards: $8000 worth in the juried gallery


There's 20 different directorships and everybody has to do their jobs

It always comes off - we have timelines so that you have an idea where you're supposed to be

Every step of the way is critical - if we don't get this out and it isn't clear then we're not going to get the artists, if we don't keep our reputation as a good juried show we lose artists, the artists need communicating with, handholding

Important to know what you're going to do, plan what you're going to do, communicate and execute - it's all about project management

We're getting so big that we can't just step into it and remember what to do - we have to have plans - they have to be robust

Communication is often one of the weakest links and we've got to do a really good job with that


A huge area - there are around 120 volunteers each day

There's a director of volunteers who manages all that
3-4 hours shifts, some people in the same place, in different place - it's like running an army

We need to say what skill sets the people need - like for closeout people need to be good with money, counting all the receipt books for the commission

There's a lot of people to answer questions, we try to be hands on with the artists - all sorts of people running around on that field trying to get artists off the field

The people I ask for are smart, fast, can react, can manage change, are athletic enough to run from one end of the field to the other for 4 hours

The must be assertive and be able to say no, stop traffic if it's moving in towards you very fast

Booth fees, commissions and patron entry fees

The artists pay for the size of the booth + a 15% commission off of net sales

Artists would prefer not to have to pay a commission, they prefer flat fee festival but the problem is that we don't have big sponsors - if we didn't have that commission we wouldn't make a profit, we would be lucky to break even.

We would love to be a flat fee festival, it's way less work but financially it isn't quite feasable
If were to charge an entry fee we could be a flat fee festival - there's just pros and cons to the whole thing, it's tough.

It's an opportunity for young artists - we love to look at that new artist with great potential, they can afford the 10x10 single booth, and if they only sell $500 worth of stuff, they can afford the commission - so they're not really in competition with the guys who are selling $10,000 a weekend - so we can be affordable for the younger new artists.

posted on Jan 30, 2013 • permanent link

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