Art Show - Set Panel and Table Limits

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Set panel and table limits

Now that you have a floor plan, you know how many total panels and tables will fit in the art show. With this and a knowledge of how many artists are likely to want to enter, you can set policies for how many of each you will allow a single artist to reserve.

If you don't expect to fill all your tables and panels, there is little need for limits. You may as well just be first come, first served. You just stop accepting artists when the show is full. This non-policy has no consistent effect on the type or quality of art in the show. If you do fill up, it may screen out the less organized artists. You might expect the professional artists to be more organized and more likely to get in first, but I've seen little such correlation. You can use this policy even if you do expect to fill the show.

If you expect artists to want more space than you have available, you have many ways to limit demand. Any of these can be combined and they all interact:

  • High panel fees decrease both the diversity and the size of the show. It skews the show toward artists who sell well. This increases sales per panel/table and often the percentage of pieces sold. Low fees have the opposite effect; they increase diversity and size, and decrease sales (see next section, Art Show - Refine Budget and Set Fees for more detail). High panel/table fees can both reduce the size of the show and, by persuading artists to use fewer panels/tables, increase the number of artists who fit. If your panel/table fees are high enough, you may have no need for panel/table limits.
  • Not accepting mail-in decreases the size of the show. Whether it changes the composition of the show depends on how the pool of local artists compares to the pool of artists who might mail in. It will probably cut sales (unless you're accepting originals only, when it won't matter as much) and have unpredictable effects on diversity. Charging high mail-in fees has a similar effect, though less so. Not accepting mail-in may reduce the size of the show enough that you don't care about limits. But if you still fill up, you'd probably want panel/table limits as well; most artists wanting large numbers of panels will be local.
  • Limiting each artist to a few panels/tables will supply the greatest number of artists and the greatest diversity. Conversely, it often decreases quality and sales of art - someone who sells $300 per panel often wants more panels, and that's who you're limiting so you can display more artists selling $50 per panel. What limits you set depends on what kind of show you want. Internal shows usually want to make room for everyone, and often have low limits. Commercial shows may prefer lots of work from artists that sell well, and give them high limits. Prestige shows don't can go either way, but if they're being selective about which artists can enter, they often allow these artists more panels/tables each.
  • Jurying is most often thought of as a way to control the quality or content of your show, but it also limits the size. It can be a method of applying differential limits. For some artists, there is no limit. For others, the limit may be two panels/tables, or none. And of course some artists won't even bother with a juried show.

Most shows do have some form of panel/table limit. What that limit is varies wildly. I've seen shows which have limited artists to one 4'x4' panel. This is usually a bad idea unless you're an internal type show or looking to reduce the show size, because many mail-in and attending artists can't cover their expenses with just one panel. A two panel/table limit has some of the same problem, but less so. Three or four panel/table limits are common. Small shows usually have smaller limits, and exceptions are often made for various reasons.