Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Change of Plans

"Bat Out of Hell" by Meat Loaf on iTunes, and I may yet open that bottle of sauvignon blanc in my dorm fridge to accompany it. Tonight's post was supposed to be titled "The Yellow Brick Road Or, It's All About the Journey". The song was supposed to be "Harmony" from Elton John's album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Unfortunately I got two emails from tonight when I returned from my lost wax casting workshop in Portland that have have completely driven all cosy, happy remembrances of last night's dinner adventure with other out-of-town artists down by Portland's riverside from my mind. I'll have to post about that lovely adventure tomorrow morning (to start my day with happy thoughts). For now I am all wound up and cranky with no way to let it out but here--and I have to do that if I want to sleep and not stew all night.

So what were these heinous emails? The first email announced a date change for ACRE 2010 from April 25-27 to June 5-7. The second email requested that I go to their website *by this Friday* and tell them if I'm still planning to do the show. They move the show back a month and a half and want me to notify them within two days if I still would like to do it. Why me? Well, I am one of the artists who already signed up at this year's ACRE show (and paid my deposit) to do next year's show--in large part based on the dates. I did not like this year's show being in June, and I don't feel like the timing helped sales at all--*no one* ordered from me for July. Almost everyone wanted ASAP and in *June*. That's not gonna happen next year.

I was all primed and excited about the April dates. Right at the exit to the show in a big banner overhead was a sign that said "See you for ACRE 2010, April 25-27". The show management heavily lobbied at the show to get artists to commit and pay in advance for those dates. Then, apparently, they read the post-show surveys and decide June would be a more popular date so a few weeks after the show is over and everyone is back home, they change the dates without even polling the people who paid to see how they felt about it. How does that reward our commitment and loyalty? We put our money up front (again), and, personally, I feel jerked around.

Yes, I understand that the date may have been an important topic in the surveys, but the time to address it is for the following year--or at least before getting people to commit and pay based on an announced date. It may seem responsive to react so quickly to the show feedback, but it feels unprofessional when you are on the receiving end of it. Much like feral cats though we may seem, artists have other commitments and real life too. At the very least, the artists who have already paid their deposits and made arrangements to do the show should have been asked how we felt about a proposed change. In comparison, the Rosen Group explored changing the date for their winter show next year to the end of January. They ended up deciding not to, but this would have been a great time for them to make that change as they aren't asking people to get in their contracts for next year till August.

But back to ACRE. Yes, if I cancel by Friday, I get my deposit back with no penalty. Would that doing a show like this were that simple! However unintentional it was, I was baited and switched by the change of time. Had I known the real date when I was asked to commit, I would have been better prepared to decide if I wanted to store everything in Vegas again to do the show next year, or if I just wanted to ship it all home and give next year a pass. Now because I have already pre-paid $1000 to store my booth AND I paid the show deposit, I feel very limited in my options.

There was a similar waffling around last year resulting in a change in the planned dates and the venue (which hall in the convention center). This year there was also a last minute (or at least after the floor plan and space assignments were announced) mucking about with the floor plan that was very unexpected and disadvantageous to my layout. I chalked it all up to a new show finding its feet and settling down. But then to pull a switch again now...

No, I'm not a happy camper.


Anonymous said...

Uhh, Brenda. There's a much larger Back Story. Wendy Rosen was asking artists and buyers if they would want to participate in a BMAC show at the same time as JCK in Las Vegas, so there was possible Las Vegas direct competition.

Nancy Vince surveyed buyers, artists who signed up for next year and artists from this last show. 63% of the buyers chose the June/JCK dates. I'm surprised you didn't get a survey.

Anyway, there was alot of discussion back and forth on the boards. I'm assuming she had to act fast to get the dates at the convention hall while surveying the buyers and artists.

I do understand how annoying it must be for you to bum out your high. And make a decision. And consider your stuff in storage.

I think I have the sequence of events right. It was pretty exciting here.

Me, I'm taking off from shows next year, but I do care about the shows and the people.

Nancy Goodenough

Bill said...


I know your shows have been disappointing, this year.

Hopefully, there'll be more evidence of economic recovery by that time next year.