Craft Exhibition Essentials

In a world of mass production, there’s still a yearning to enjoy—and buy—original art and craft. Our tips will help you create the ka-ching ka-ching sound you want from a craft exhibition fundraiser.

Plan well – and plan ahead.
Craft exhibitions can take time to gain a following. They also need time to organise (a year in advance is not unheard of). After all, crafters need to create sufficient stock to show and sell. When thinking of timing, consider existing community calendar events as well as buying seasons (e.g. Mother’s Day and Christmas)

You will, of course, want your craft exhibition to be somewhere easy to get to. Better still, somewhere passers-by will notice (even though you will have done a wonderful job publicising the event: read Publicity 101: how to act like a PR Queen.
Consider also layout for booths, art hangings, refreshments, storage and activities. (And don’t forget bathrooms!)

How to find talent

  1. If this is a school fundraiser, you are bound to have crafty and arty types within the parent and teacher population. Invite them to participate.
  2. Post a flyer seeking expressions of interest from local crafters in your community’s churches and shopping centres. If the budget allows, place a small advertisement in your community newspaper.
  3. Talk to people who work in stores in your area that sell crafting supplies (don’t forget hardware stores). They’re likely to know the names of potential exhibitors. They’re also a source of promotion for the event closer to the time.

Tips on exhibitors

  1. Seek to mix professionals with amateurs and a mix of crafts (including a ‘name’ or two: they’ll serve as drawcards)
  2. Tip: Always view examples of work before agreeing to inclusion in the exhibition. If you want ‘class’, you don’t want tat. Letting anyone sell anything will not help build your event’s reputation.
  3. School events can include a children’s art exhibition section.
  4. Have a waiting list for vendors in case of last minute cancellations.
  5. Charge exhibitors for their space. For a first up event, set a conservative price for a booth. Once established, you can review the arrangement: consider either a flat fee or percentage of takings.

How to make money from a craft exhibition

  1. Do ask for a small booking fee as a commitment from the crafter to show up; non-refundable for a no-show. Consider a sliding scale for exhibitors. The materials and time that go into creating crafts vary wildly—as does the amount that can be charged for an item. Being a part of your exhibition needs to be financially worthwhile for your crafter as well.
  2. Host a wine and cheese official opening with a cover charge. (Seek local business donations/sponsorship for the wine and the cheese!)
  3. Gold coin entry for the rest of the exhibition
  4. Raffle at the door
  5. Silent auction
  6. Set up a café style area to sell refreshments (donated cakes/slices)

Added extras

  1. Crafters may be keen to run short DIY workshops (e.g. make your own card or bracelet).
  2. Patrons may be interested to see craft being created (e.g. spinning wool, word turning).

Originally published 4 April 2012

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