Driving Our Vision - Open Road Tour

Driving Our Vision – Lessons Learned as the Road Turns

A floodlight view of Edinburgh Castle at twilight
A floodlight view of Edinburgh Castle at twilight

On Wednesday, we leave for Scotland. Matt’s playing a wedding at Edinburgh Castle; it’s a wow factor when people ask where we’re going next on the tour. But, though our excitement is high, we’re on tenterhooks imagining the insanity of getting to our next gig stateside. We get back to Texas, South Texas on Wednesday, September 9 and have to be in Maine by the 11th. This is our “wow” factor. The “how in the world are we going to make this happen” factor. It’s a great problem and I can’t wait to get to Scotland, meet some new friends and visit with old friends. And the plane ride should give us ample to time to review the first half of the Open Road Tour’s lessons learned as the road turns.

Most importantly, we’ve learned how to avoid the carnivals and the “real estate” shows. Imagine classical dinner music at your local State Fair and you’ll understand what we mean by a carnival show. As the name implies, a “real estate” show is one in which the promoters seem to be more interested in amassing booth fees than in working to make the show a success for the artists. There is a fine balance to finding “Fine Art and Fine Craft Festivals.” It’s a funny thing, the art festival circuit – our successful shows were considered not yet on the scale of the “Fine Art Festivals” and we’re invited to see the difference. It should be an interesting way to begin the new year. But, enough about the management of shows. Let’s take a look at the people who attend.

We’ve learned it’s the Quality of visitors, not the Quantity which makes a show great. When we began, we looked at pictures of crowds. Interestingly, a crowd of 1000s doesn’t always make a good show. One show we attended did have the number of visitors, but nobody was buying. Anything. From anyone. When all you see are strollers and dogs walking past, it’s a good indication you won’t be selling anything. On the other hand, we attended a very small show with a few select artists and a few visitors passing through the park in which it was located. It would have been a great show with a few hundred more people or better advertising, but nearly everyone who stopped at our booth bought.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m still a newbie in the art festival world. But, some things I’d love to know:

Why do you attend art (and craft) festivals?

What makes them great and what doesn’t?

What intrigues you and makes you want to come into someone’s booth?

What turns you off about a festival or an artist’s booth?

What do you think (or assume) when you see a live performance among the booths and not on stage?


2 thoughts on “Driving Our Vision – Lessons Learned as the Road Turns

  1. 1. Looking back we attended them because we either knew someone in them are we travelling an there was one the area. When people live in smaller towns or near smaller towns festivals are funding for charities and people go to support them or there isn’t all that much to do in the areas.
    2. The thing that makes them great is there are interesting things to see and maybe buy. What doesn’t make them great is that all the booths have the same things like jewelry, pottery, and clothing. There needs to be some variety.
    3. I’ll stop at a booth if there is something different about it. Something like the Chapman Stick.
    4. As above I’m turned off by seeing the same things at every booth.
    5. Personally, I would rather see a performance at a booth than on a stage. Usually, acts on a stage are for entertainment and are paid by the festival.
    6. Is there anything related that could supplement sales?


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