Volume 6: I’m What?!! WAIT LISTED?
So, once you’ve applied to a show the results are clear -- right? You’re either accepted or rejected. It’s Yes or No, Yea or Nay. Well -- not always. Here’s a bit of information about being chosen as a Alternate; a.k.a. being Wait Listed.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Being Wait Listed for a show means that you were “almost” chosen to be one of the first pick exhibitors. You’re On Call in case an exhibitor cancels -- and they do cancel, more often than you’d think. Wait Lists are usually set up by categories -- so if a painter cancels a wait-listed painter will be called, if a photographer cancels another photographer will be called to take his place, and so on.
WHY DO SHOWS HAVE WAIT LISTS?
Show promoters DO NOT like empty spaces at shows! Other than looking bad and messing up the flow of a show, empty spaces often mean lost revenue. Show promoters have a laundry list of expenses including advertising, municipal permits, security, entertainment, port-a-johns, etc. Their costs for putting on the show are set whether artists show up or not. Many shows have a sliding refund policy. For example, if you cancel 90 days before the show you might get 80% of your fee back, 60 days before - 40%, 30 days before - 20%, down to 0% if you cancel within a week or two of the event.
The reason for this is obvious. While it might be pretty easy to fill a vacant space a couple months before a show, a cancellation a couple days before the event will be much harder to fill. The wait-listed artists may have found other shows to exhibit at, they may not want to travel last minute, or they may not have built up enough stock to do the show last minute.
DO ALL SHOWS HAVE WAIT LISTS?
No, and you’ll see empty spaces at these shows more often than not. These shows usually have much less flexible refund policy.
DO YOU HAVE TO EXHIBIT IF CALLED?
No, and you won’t be charged an exhibit fee either. I was once called off a wait-list for the 3 Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh 24 hours before the show. I didn’t have hotel reservations, I hadn’t made travel arrangements, and it was just too short of notice to pick up and go.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES YOU’LL BE CALLED TO DO THE SHOW?
The number of artists on the wait-list varies from show to show, so it’s hard to say what the odds are that you’ll be called.
If memory serves, I think I’ve been called to exhibit about 1/3 of the times I’ve been wait-listed -- but I know others who almost always get into shows they’re wait listed for.
Wishing you all the best for your upcoming shows!
Until next time -- keep creating!