The purpose of these documents is to raise the awareness of those aspects of art shows that directly affect artists and to open a dialogue among show directors and artists in order that we may work together to improve art shows. NAIA is dedicated to advocating from the artist's perspective while recognizing the interdependence existing among us all.

In 1995, NAIA was founded by a group of dedicated artists who believed it was time for artists to join and speak with a collective voice. At that time, there were several key issues for which NAIA chose to advocate. They were listed on the NAIA website as goals and initiatives, and served to guide NAIA in its endeavors. We recently completed a yearlong strategic planning. We have identified through surveys of both our membership and the larger group of art show artists, the desire that we strengthen our advocacy efforts.

NAIA is certain that art fairs and their directors recognize the profound importance and value of the artist's point of view. NAIA recognizes that art shows have unique and important positions that deserve the same kind of consideration as the artists.

NAIA believes that by considering the perspectives of both the show and the artists and by learning the requirements for the success of each, that we will grow, prosper, and preserve the uniqueness of art shows. Many of us, shows and artists alike, have been involved in providing the public with an opportunity to view art, meet artists, and purchase art for over 35 years. We believe we all should do everything within our powers to continue this unique American phenomenon for generations to come.

NAIA accepts your help in assuming this responsibility. Our interdependence in this endeavor is indisputable.

Artist Advisors | Application Process | Operational Process | Procedural Advocacies

 Artist Advisors

The NAIA advocates that all shows develop an Artist Advisory Committee of artists who participate in art shows to consult on all aspects of the show's policies.

The artist community is filled with artists who have participated in art shows around the country for many years. These artists have a wealth of first-hand experience in seeing both the good and the rough in shows of many varieties: large and small, shows run by non-profit and for-profit businesses, shows organized by community volunteers and professional paid staff. They have experienced weather issues of the extremes, security concerns, and booth layout inequities. They have seen the results of good marketing campaigns, and the shows that fade when sales are poor. Artists add to that wealth of knowledge with each show they do. A wise show can benefit from this knowledge.

Strengths of an Artist Advisory Committee

Show directors have various levels of involvement from full time paid employee to unpaid part time volunteer. Many directors are focused on the development and operation of their own show, and may not have the time, energy or budget to communicate with or travel to learn from other shows.

Artists, on the other hand, are communicating with and traveling to those shows. As part of their business of  participating in shows, they observe the mechanics of the shows, communicate one-on-one with the patrons at the shows, and share information with their fellow artists. As a result, artists develop a perspective on the shows that directors who may be focused on other operational aspects may never have the opportunity to see.

Drawing from the experience and knowledge of artists is a service that shows should not overlook. Among areas that artists are knowledgeable and can advise as well as questions that may be answered are:

* Site location and booth layouts What makes a good show site? How do terrain surfaces affect artists and patrons? How can a show create a booth layout that maximizes patron flow and provides all artists with equal and good locations? How might shows address issues with spaces that are not as good as others? How much space do artists need to be able to set up and display properly? How do layouts affect patron enjoyment? What are some of the wind issues that affect booths and booth layouts? How can a show honor artist space requests (such as being near a companion artist, or adaptations due to physical issues, etc.) without causing undue burden on the show?
* Artistic medium information What are the different artistic mediums and how are they defined? What medium categories might a show want to specify? What does a particular art term or medium technique mean? What are some of the new and cutting edge mediums and techniques that artists are creating? When do medium categories restrict, rather than promote, artistic creativity?
* Load in and load out procedures and traffic flow How can traffic flow be directed to help the setup and breakdown process run smoothly? How much time does an artist need to safely and adequately setup and breakdown their booths? What are the issues around dollying to a booth and artwork? How do weather issues and security issues affect artists in their set up and break down? How do parking issues affect an artist's ability to do a show? What are some of the vehicle size issues that artists have when trying to park? What kinds of procedures might a show have to evacuate artists in an emergency?
* Security procedures, including parking Why is security in parking areas critical to artists? How can shows offer secure parking to artists? When are parking issues a "make or break" factor in participating in a show?
* Police or security presence What effect does visible police presence have on artists and on patrons? How much security is enough? What are the overnight issues for artists? Why is security so critical during set up and break down, and during opening and closing each day? What are some good, yet cost-effective, security measures that shows can do? How can a show communicate security procedures to artists, and what methods can be used to insure artists are able to quickly contact security personnel with needed?
* Weather alert procedures What kinds of obligations should shows assume in advising artists of pending adverse weather issues? How can shows quickly get word out to artists about weather concerns? What kinds of procedures should shows have in place to deal with weather emergencies?
* Event marketing How and why is target marketing crucial to the artist? How can artists assist you in marketing your show?
* Artist liaison and communication How can your artist advisors act as liaisons between your show and artists at the show, and with artists in general? Why will other artists sometimes communicate better with your advisors, than with the show directly? How does sharing knowledge about all aspects of your show encourage artists to support your show? How can artist advisors help your show's patrons?

Developing an Artist Advisory Committee

Choosing the artists to be on your committee can be as enjoyable as it is informative. The chances are that artists you invite will be honored to serve.

Considerations in selecting your Artist Advisory Committee may include:

* Balance: Aim to create a balance of artist backgrounds and perspectives: ethnic diversity, range of mediums, experience in arts festivals (i.e., local/regional/national experience; number of years doing festivals, etc.)
* A willingness to look at the larger perspective: Seek artists who understand that they represent the larger body of artists, rather than pushing their own personal agendas. Advisors should be willing to share their experiences and use their collective reasoning and  ideas to advise and suggest solutions to issues regarding artist needs and wants, as well as the enjoyment of the festival-going public. Additionally, seek advisors who are willing to keep in mind the realities of the festival organization: budgets; event sponsor expectations; city laws; politics and issues; neighborhood concerns; etc.
* Term rotation: Consider establishing term limits and rotations in order to 1) allow committee members an understanding of the commitment that is expected of them; 2) stimulate new ideas and enthusiasm by bringing in new committee members; 3) eliminate concerns of favoritism or cronyism among artists who are not on the committee. Artists have a vested interest in seeing art shows survive and thrive. By including artists into the production process, shows may fill a gap that may exist between  their concept of an event, and the reality as viewed through the artist's perspective. The result can be an enriched and more successful event for all.

 Application Process

Prospectus: NAIA advocates that shows create a concise but clear prospectus.

The design, layout and content of applications are the decisions of each individual show. Artists do not expect nor want all shows to be clones of one another. However, in order to make educated decisions when applying to shows, artists tend to look for specific information in a show's prospectus. The NAIA has developed a model prospectus to assist shows in developing a complete and comprehensive prospectus, which can be accessed at:

 A few specific areas are discussed below.

Prospectus: The prospectus should include an explanation of the jury process and spaces available.


Artists seek relevant information concerning the jurors and the dynamics of the jury process to be better assured of fair competition among applicants. (Please reference our paper on Jury Process for further information.)


Artists want to know the probabilities of securing a space in the show, including how many spaces are available in the entire show, how many available in each category, the number of pre-invited artists, and the number of spaces reserved for director invitations.

Prospectus: The prospectus should not request Social Security numbers.

In this age when identity theft is a real concern to all, special attention must be given to the accumulation, intended use and destruction of specific personal information. The Federal Trade Commission advises individuals that before revealing any personal identity information they should find out how it will be used, how it will be secured, if it will be shared with others, and how it will be destroyed. Since artists apply to shows as individuals or small collaborations, show applications contain information of a personal nature. Personal data, and especially a social security number, is ripe for identity theft.

Only if an artist receives a monetary award at the show should the show ask for a Social Security or Employer ID number. In fact, the show can hold the award check until the artist has given the show their Social Security or Employer ID number. However, it is obligatory to destroy copies of artists' Social Security numbers after filing appropriate governmental reporting forms.

Please take notice that Federal law forbids any individual from requiring another individual to disclose his/her Social Security Account Number, unless said individual is requesting benefits from the Social Security Administration or is using the number to report income or request a refund. The Privacy Act of 1974 states, "It shall be unlawful… to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security number." Section 7(a)(1), 5 USC § 552a (note)

NAIA advises shows to seek legal counsel with regard to use of artist's Social Security numbers if they have any questions in this regard.

Prospectus: Define Rules

In order for artists to select and apply to those shows which best suit their own business policies, all rules of a show need to be listed and defined in the prospectus.

Your prospectus is often the first information that an artist receives about your show. A clear and concise prospectus is a sign of professionalism that artists notice. The clearer the prospectus is, the more likely an artist is to respond positively and apply with confidence.

Jury Process: The NAIA advocates for a knowledgeable jury panel and full disclosure of the jury process and practices.

The NAIA advocates for a knowledgeable jury panel and  full disclosure of the jury process and practices.

The show has a responsibility to the artist to insure that the jury process is conducted professionally and employs the highest standards. A jury should give each artist applicant an equitable and equal chance for invitation.

The optimal way to provide this equal chance is through a fair and knowledgeable jury, and a clear understanding of how the jury operates. The proper management of the entire process by the Show Director and staff in addition to the mechanical process of judging artwork by projected image is essential in ensuring that each artist's work is given the same fair and thorough examination.

Jury Members

A jury panel that is knowledgeable, fair-minded, well versed in a wide range of artistic mediums, and recognizes that the responsibility of a juror includes:

* A broad and well rounded knowledge of art
* An ability to assess art beyond one's own taste
* Integrity
* A non-cynical, open-minded approach to art in general and, in particular, to art, show art and its artists

NAIA recommends that shows disclose the following information to artist applicants about its jurors:

* A listing of the juror's qualifications and credentials on the show prospectus or web site where it is accessible to artists prior to the application deadline
* Disclosing the make up and number of the jury, peer artists/art industry professionals/educators/public.
* Disclosing whether a new jury is impaneled each year, or whether jurors are called back over subsequent years
* Disclosing whether show selection jurors and award jurors are the same individuals

Jury Process Disclosures

Certain standards and essential practices are important to the integrity of the jury process. Shows are urged to communicate the specifics used in their jury process to artists in the application.

* Instructions and criteria the show communicates to the jury for scoring should be clearly stated. 
* Specific criteria as to the use of the booth slide in the jury process.
* The method of image projection (i.e., slides, digital projection, monitor viewing, etc.)
* The order of image projection, and approximate length of time each artist's images are projected and the scoring method, i.e. yes/no, 1-5 etc.
* Whether jurors will view artists' images together at the same time or independently.
* Whether an  information Statement submitted by artist applicants is read to the jury and when.
* Whether discussion is allowed
* The number of spaces available to be filled by jury
* The number of spaces filled by invitation or director's discretion
* The show's policies for artists who are exempt from the jury
* A breakdown of spaces by medium or category
* The process by which artists can be informed of their jury scores, and the relation of the score to the cutoff score for invitation to the show

Jury Process Recommendations

*Artists are given their score and where it ranks within their category, and the cutoff score for acceptance.

* Artists are informed of comments if any that may pertain to the art, booth or viewability of images.

Image Formatting and Viewing

The NAIA advocates that all shows adopt a standard method for formatting images – one that favors neither horizontal nor vertical images.

NAIA also advocates that shows inform artists of the method by which images will be viewed by the jury, so artists can prepare their images correctly for the exact viewing conditions.

An artist's entry into a juried art show is based upon one overriding factor: a strong presentation of his or her artwork that informs the show's jury in the best manner possible. In these days of strong competition at art shows, artists often turn to professionals to render their images to most accurately represent the artwork under specific viewing conditions. However, to be able to do so, the artist must know ahead of time the exact specifications for how the jury will view the images.
In addition, if images are viewed by the jury on computers, NAIA advocates that monitors on which they are viewed be calibrated to ensure that jurors will accurately see images as they have been submitted by the artist.
Informing the artist about viewing specifications is the responsibility of the art show. Submitting the proper images is the responsibility of the artist. The artist, for lack of good images of their work, may lose an opportunity to participate in a show that they are otherwise well qualified to do. The show may end up with a pool of applicants, and subsequently exhibitors, that reflect the effort, or lack of effort, the show may have made in informing the artists.

In 1997 NAIA worked to standardize the marking of jury slides which became widely known as the “Red Dot” standard. It saved untold time and resources. However, it is no longer recommended that shows request slides as this requirement would be a hardship for most artists

Cancellations & Refunds

The NAIA advocates that all shows establish a reasonable period of time during which accepted artists may cancel and receive a booth fee refund. Engaging in the application process should be considered only a commitment to jury; not a commitment to show.

This is a very important issue for all artists who participate in art shows. A show that considers an application as a commitment to show overlooks the realities of the application process and can create an unnecessary hardship for artists.

The reality for artists who make their living selling their art at art shows is that they must often apply to more than one show on a given weekend. If acceptance in a show were certain, then artists would choose the show in which they wish to exhibit. Given the uncertainties surrounding the jury process, artists often apply to more than one show in an attempt to insure an adequate schedule of shows.

When accepted  into more than one show on a weekend, the artist is faced with the necessity of declining the invitation to exhibit from one or more of these shows. When one of the shows has an "acceptance is commitment" policy, the artist also faces the possibility of losing one or more of the booth fees. This inequity is compounded when the art fair resells the space to an artist from the wait list thereby collecting payment twice for one space at the expense of the first artist.

A reasonable refund/cancellation policy acknowledges the needs of the exhibiting artists without placing a difficult burden on shows.

* The majority of artists support a policy that asks for a booth fee due upon acceptance with the application asking for the jury fee only at the time of application. Those artists whose work is accepted into the show are then notified and have a short time period (2 to 4 weeks) to accept or decline the invitation and  remit the booth fee. The shows that have this policy in place find it less cumbersome than other methods.
* If the show collects the booth fee at the same time as the jury fee and cashes it upon acceptance, it is then imperative that the show provides a reasonable time, (4 weeks) for the artist to accept the invitation. If the artist declines the invitation within this time period, a 100% refund should be proffered. After this time, a sliding scale of refunds should apply, acknowledging that administrative fees may need to be deducted.

Either of these policies will provide the artists time to hear of their jury status from other shows in order to enable them to choose which invitation, if any, to accept. These policies also give a show ample time to solidify their artist roster months before the show. The shows also would have the advantage of a larger jury pool as the many artists who are in opposition to the "acceptance is a commitment to show" policy will once again enter the jury for the show.

A reasonable refund/cancellation policy will meet the needs of the shows and the artists alike.



advocates that art shows adopt a clear wait list policy, and state plainly the method by which wait listed artists will be informed of openings in the show.
NAIA recognizes that maintaining and using a wait list may add a layer of work for the show, but the benefits far outweigh the extra effort. Many factors could potentially cause artists to cancel. A show without a wait list to draw from may either have noticeable empty spaces or find that their advertising of "150 artists" becomes misleading. More importantly, having a wait list gives another artist a chance to participate in the show.

Cancellations may occur for a number of reasons. Illness, death within a family or other critical family matters, weather-related issues (such as the hurricanes or gas shortages that we experienced in 2005), or unanticipated schedule conflicts occur for artists just as they do for anyone.

Establishing a wait list by medium will continue to ensure a balanced show.

A wait list gives another artist an opportunity to exhibit. For many artists, selling their work at art shows may be their sole source of income.

Artists know that if they are on the wait list, they have a reasonable chance of being invited to show. There are many plans that need to be made to participate in an art fair: lodging, travel, inventory, etc. Artists will make contingent plans if they have an idea they may be able to show. The wait list policy of the individual show will have an impact on these plans.

A reasonable and clear wait list policy will meet the needs of the shows and artists alike.


The NAIA advocates that art festivals adopt a policy that addresses artist cancellations due to an emergency or unusual hardship, with clear guidelines for receiving a full or partial refund of fees.

Emergencies can arise in our daily lives in all occupations. A compassionate society recognizes this and makes every effort to meet the needs of all when events occur that adversely affect one's ability to participate in planned events This should extend to hardships that may occasion the need for an artist to withdraw from a show.

The NAIA advocates that all shows adopt a hardship policy that sets clear guidelines as to how an artist may apply for a hardship release. The policy should be in print and included in the prospectus or on the show's website and should also include the requirements of proof that an artist may be requested to submit to support his or her claim of hardship.

The options for affected artists should also be included in this policy and could include refund of fees upon filling the vacated space from the wait list or re-invitation to shows for a future date.

When an artist cancels a show due to an emergency, it is not a decision that is arrived at casually. The artist realizes that withdrawing from a show means lost income from sales at the show, but at times there is no choice. A hardship policy is a gesture of goodwill that will elevate your show within the artist community as one of compassion that cares about its artists.


 Operational Process


NAIA advocates that 24-hour security be provided at the show site, and to and from parking areas from the beginning of load-in to the end of load-out.

An artist's livelihood is in their booth and in their vehicle. They contain thousands of dollars' worth of hand-created artwork that is often one-of-a-kind. Artists who come into town are frequently unfamiliar with the area. Artists must be able to rely upon the shows to insure that they and their work are safe and secure from the time they arrive until the time they leave a show.

During show hours, hundreds of people come through the artist's booth, making it difficult to keep a constant eye on their work while responding to a patron or transacting a sale. At other times, an artist may have to leave their booths for brief periods for bathroom breaks or food runs when booth sitters may not be available.

When an artist zips up their booth at the end of the day and leaves the show site, they relinquish all control over their booths overnight. Most jewelers do remove their art at night and hand-carry it to and from their vehicles, that trip to the parking lot becomes a time when they are particularly vulnerable to robbery. Additionally, many artists will be carrying their receipts of the day.

The chaos of setup and breakdown are also vulnerable periods for the artist, particularly if the public is not prevented from wandering through the show site during these times. It is difficult for an artist to keep an eye on all of their work and cash box while they may be focused on dismantling of their booth, and artists doing shows by themselves may need to leave their work unattended while they park or retrieve their vehicles.

An artist who fears for his or her safety at a show is unlikely to return. 24-hour security is important to your show, your artists and your patrons alike.



NAIA advocates that a systemized process for load-in and load-out be implemented.

Load-in and load-out are particularly sensitive times for artists. Load-in often happens at the end of a long trip to the show site, when artists are tired and feeling pressed for time. At load-out, artists are eager to get packed up quickly so that they can get on the road toward home and avoid another night of hotel expenses. During both processes, the stress level increases.

By their nature, load in and load out involve a certain amount of chaos as artists jockey their vehicles in close proximity to their booth spaces, and cartons, bins, boxes and tent pieces are spread about. A show that implements a systemized process for these times will find that it minimizes the chaos and stress, and reduces the overall time needed to complete.

Understandably, the process will need to vary from show to show, and location to location. Shows may wish to consult with their artist advisory committees and public safety professionals, such as a police department's traffic safety officer, to assist in planning. Established plans should be clearly communicated to artists before they head to the show so that they can plan their own arrival schedules to fit into the plan.

A thoughtfully organized plan will enhance public safety and provide a more pleasant experience for the both the artist and show.

Booth Space

NAIA advocates for a minimum 12' x 12' booth space for each artist that is free from obstruction and easily accessible to patrons' traffic flow.

The NAIA advocates for a booth space of at least 12' x 12' that is free from obstruction and easily accessible within the patrons' traffic flow for four reasons: safety, storage, appearance, and an equal opportunity for marketing.

Booths butting against one another create both a significant hardship on the artist trying to set up their booth and raises the possibility of damage occurring to the booth or artist. A level surface that is free from obstructions is for the patrons' safety, as much as the artist's.

When artist's vehicles are parked some distance from their booth, there is need for storage space behind the booth.

A show that provides space for the artists’ storage will insure that the look of the show is more attractive and pleasing to the patron. A behind-the-booth space also gives a more private spot for the artist to transact business with the patron.

Equal Opportunity for Marketing:

When artists pay equal booth fees, they deserve equal opportunities for marketing. Show layouts should insure that the patron traffic flows easily and logically passes by each artist's booth. Separate sections not easily connected with the main show, discourage a patron from visiting those booths not easily reached.


NAIA advocates that free or reasonably priced easily accessible parking be provided for artists' vehicles throughout the duration of the show.

Artists with large or tall vehicles, or who pull small trailers, require extra space to safely maneuver their vehicles.

NAIA urges shows to make every reasonable effort to provide workable parking for all artists, just as they may do for their sponsors, food vendors or others.

ADA Accommodations

The NAIA advocates that all shows to be aware of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it may pertain to accessibility by artists and patrons with disabilities and  make reasonable accommodations to permit artists with disabilities to participate as exhibitors in the show.

The NAIA advocates that all art fairs conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as their own State and local ADA.

Provide accessible parking, have a few booth spaces that an artist can drive to for loading and unloading that are accessible to wheelchairs, and handicap restroom facilities

 Procedural Advocacies


The NAIA advocates that shows require accepted artists to appear in person for the entire show. The NAIA advocates that proxies at shows be prohibited, except in the most extenuating of circumstances.

The unique contribution which an art/craft show and its respective exhibitors bring to the marketing place, and the community which they serve, centers around the fact that prospective buyers get to meet the artist/craftsperson - the producer of the work being displayed in situ.

Rule Enforcement

The NAIA advocates that an art show's rules for artists be clear and listed in the show information/prospectus. A show's stature will be enhanced by fairly and consistently applying the rules.

In those few instances in which an exhibitor is in violation of one rule or another, it is incumbent on the administrative arm of the show to take an action and have a method in place for enforcing the rules uniformly.

 Whatever action is taken needs to be spelled out in the application and/or prospectus


The NAIA reminds shows that artists hold copyrights on their images. Shows should be aware that the use of artists' images beyond any permission specifically granted by the artist is subject to the copyright laws of the United States.

This includes posting the copyright symbol and artist name immediately next to published images of artwork to avoid the orphaning of an image. Use of artists' images, such as on the prospectus, program, brochure, website, newspaper and other media including advertising, may be subject to copyright regulations. If a show has any questions concerning acceptable usage of copyrighted images outside the jury process, NAIA encourages the show to seek legal counsel.


The NAIA advocates that shows develop fair and equitable grievance procedures through which artists can voice their complaints without retribution.

Artists see things that show directors may not notice. These may range from concerns about untenable operational restrictions, to uneven rule enforcement, to jury process issues, to personal knowledge about an individual artist's methods that violate a show's rules.

Whether real or perceived, artists fear the proverbial "blacklist process that summarily denies an artist a space in a show before they have even been juried. Fear of a blacklist often prevents an artist with a legitimate, provable grievance or concern from communicating those concerns to the show's management.

A formal grievance procedure will allow both the Artists to feel comfortable, respected and protected when they share their concerns, and the show to benefit from the information shared.

shows have developed workable systems. Please check with NAIA for information on these shows. If your show has a grievance procedure that works well for you and your artists, please let us know.