Sunday, June 14, 2009

The New Reality?

Old Town finished up this evening. What started as a dark wet Saturday morning finished in full sun and low seventies. A perfect Sunday. Though once again a show returned little reward for the great majority of artists. I heard of a few zeros and most talked of expenses made but not much more.

I was lucky today and made a little money after a dismal Saturday. The mood among artists is definitely downbeat. More of my friends are sleeping in their vehicles and cutting other expenses to the bone. And you can see it in their faces when you talk to them. The future is very uncertain and many are in fear of watching their livelyhoods disolve.

All of us live under the curse of increasing travel costs and show fees combined with diminishing show revenues. One artist recounted the days of regularly making ten to twenty thousand dollars in a weekend show. He says he now struggles to make fifteen hundred dollars in some shows. The new economy bites.

When do things get better? I entered this career when spending was scaling back so I wasnt spoiled by the good old days. But I'm guessing we may not return to those days of extravagant spending anytime soon. More than likely our profits will remain modest. We are going to have to be adaptable and patient as we wait for a rebound.

Even with all the downside to the business, the things we take away are the friendships and camraderie of those that we get together with year to year. Old Town is a bit different from other shows in that we are guests of a residential neighborhood. Our storefronts are nearly on the front steps of someone's house. We usually have the same space each year so friendships and aquaintances are renewed on each return.

It has been fun to watch neighborhood children grow up in once a year weekend glimpses. The young girl that played on the sidewalk behind the booth and delivered water to the artists in her Radio Flyer wagon is now graduating from high school. And a new bunch is coming along. Today three or four of the kids on the block chalked on the sidewalk and drew on my guest book. I'm going to keep that drawing and show it to them next year. Money is important but its not necessarily the thing we remember.

1 comment:

  1. It has been tough out there Steve. Like the hairline of a middle aged man (insert joke here)the herd is thinning. But in order to survive, we have to be smart and adapt and pay attention. We can't be the antelope, who for a split second lets his mind wander while eating at a seemingly endless supply of grass, and then gets taken down by the lion.