Unhappy Artists Deluge Bayou City Art Festival With Emails After Last-Minute Rule Change

Categories: Festivals
She also said that many of the artists at Bayou City Art Festival already had to park farther away in the rodeo lot and came in on the shuttle service provided. So she said she didn't understand why so many were upset about this. But one artist said the parking arrangements make a big difference and it's a burden on artists when the first-come-first-served lot is a mile away and the only other choice is three miles away.

One person well acquainted with the show said in recent years that all the entrances to the festival haven't always been covered very well and that a certain number were getting in free - something that a cash-strapped organization might want to stop. Fowler said this couldn't be happening, that perhaps people weren't realizing that some of the people coming in a back way were volunteers and artists, but added that since event fencing usually has gaps, some patrons might have gotten in for free. But she called it highly unlikely.

Booth rates were increased by $50, Fowler said after they looked at what other top festivals in the United States were charging.

Fowler insisted that the show will maintain its high standards, even with an expanded pool of artists. But some artists are saying Bayou City has been calling artists previously rejected for the show, to reach the 450 mark. "Part of the question the artists raise is 'Oh my gosh, if you putting in more than 300 are you going to start accepting the velvet paintings? Well no, we're not," she pledged.

What everyone in this argument can agree upon is how important a show the Bayou City Art Festival has been. One artist told us that many of the artists derive half their yearly income from just this one show. Fowler said Bayou City is a "gateway show" for young professionals who come there to buy an affordable piece of quality art and who may then start venturing into Houston's art galleries.

"We expanded the show to make it more comfortable for patrons. We are upgrading the areas that are important to patrons like the VIP area, the children's creative zone, our main stage. We thought the artists would get behind all of this. I'm a brand new festival director and I thought 'Oh, they're going to be so happy that we're making it such a great experience for the patrons' and then they weren't."

"We're bringing in more patrons, freshening up the festival," Fowler said. "The last thing you want to do is to be stale."


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13 comments
bd5207
bd5207

In the end, it appears that at least 50 artists withdrew and asked for refunds.

The artist list on the website actually has fewer than 370 artists. So...they screwed around and angered a lot of their best artists who will never be back, to have a net gain of 45 artists (they had about 325 last year).

That's not enough to make up the $220,000 they lost, plus they've added more cost with more space and more expensive entertainment.

HOUSTON: Some of your long-time favorites will not be at the show and those who are there will likely abandon this mess for good. These inexperienced clowns have succeeded in killing what used to be a very good show.

FOOLS!

Jeremy Kizer
Jeremy Kizer

5-6 days after the posted date, perhaps someone could jump in with a quick read through and correct the plethora of spelling and grammar errors...? Interesting read and good information otherwise!

cathysart
cathysart

Unfortunately the title of your article is incorrect.  A "last minute rule change" is hardly accurate.   This is not a simple rule change but a illegal change to a  legal and binding contract.  When artists enter a show they are juried and must enter a contract with the show.  Should the artist break this contract they lose their fees, plain and simple.  The Bayou festival broke their own contract by raising the number of artists to 450 and then many times over trying to cover it up so the artists would not find out. And, they not only broke the contract they illegally changed the paperwork visible on line which the artists had previously agreed upon.  They waited till midnight just weeks before the show and changed the prospectus, the legal contract, changing the wording and the number of artists to be included.   This committee knew at the beginning of the year once the new board was elected that the massive amount of additional booths were in their plans yet it was not made known to the artists until just a few weeks before the show. Upon hearing of the changes artists called and emailed, all of which was disregarded and for the most part unanswered.  It got so bad that the Bayou committee would answer the phone and immediately hang up rather than to speak to the artists.   By this time many artists had prepaid hotel rooms, plane flights and full trips planned.  It made canceling close to impossible for many artists. Those artists who chose to boycott the show had a  promise of a full refund within 10 days,  This offer was only made  to artists AFTER some of the artists began to seek legal council threatening to sue the Bayou committee.  That offer of a refund was made to silence the protests but unfortunately as these artists now wait, the 10 days have passed and the Bayou festival has yet to refund them a dime.   This new committee has done such a poor job they can barely get applications for their fall show, now adding a international selection of arts from around the world.  Apparently this committee does not embrace the love of buying handmade art made by American artisans.  The ideal which has made art festivals so popular for so many years.  The committee is in arrears to the tune of 220 thousand dollars mainly because of the huge gate fee which has risen considerably the last two years. Simple greed on their part. They expect patrons to pay 15.00 per person per day to shop at the festival.  There is absolutely no parking at the festival and patrons will need to be shuttled for miles to attend.  What a nightmare this committee has created for all. 

AnotherArtist
AnotherArtist

The show said they offered refunds before the NAIA 'shaming,' a shaming that did not occur until after Fowler said she had confirmed the available refunds with their partner application system, a system that they are intimately entangled with and should have never allowed them to change the terms of their CONTRACT with the artists months after the application deadline and only a few weeks before the show.  Fowler is so determined to 'own' their breach of contract that she has made sure any adverse comments are quickly removed from their Facebook page.  In case you missed some of these gems:

"To Susan Fowler and your Board of directors, you should all be ashamed of yourselves for what you are doing to this show and to artists nationally...I consider your decisions have been poorly made and to benefit you, (the show) however, you ruined your good name nationally. I also do not believe in sucking artists fry for their work, so that your organization can take further advantage of them than you already do. Shame shame on you and your Board. The news of this travesty has traveled far and wide and will continue to do so."

"Maybe they will tell people how they have pissed off artists all over the country. You think they will let anyone know that they are accepting previously rejected artist to the show because they lost $220,000 last year and they are trying to make that money back off the artists. That is why they added 150 booths to the show."

"From what I have read you have lost many quality artists because of your ethics and greed."

"You may want to try to ignore the hurt you have imposed on your artists you so "value" by deleting their valid comments, Ms. Fowler, but you cannot hide the incredible damage to this even you and your board have done with your horrible decisions that to NOTHING to support (and only HURT) those same artists. It's sad but you are killing this once great show. R.I.P Bayou City Art Festivals."

Houston peeps - get your fill at this year's show, it's liable to be the last...

myvoice63
myvoice63

All the other comments are correct in saying that the show made a contract with the artists, and then changed the contract after the deadline for refund.  They only offered a refund after being shamed by the NAIA.

The most important admission from the temporary show director is: "I'm a brand new festival director and I thought 'Oh, they're going to be so happy that we're making it such a great experience for the patrons' and then they weren't." 

How naive.


Blaming year over year losses on the weather is bizarre, and yet again naive.



WorkingIt
WorkingIt

Apparently, you are unaware of the email soliciting artists to help clean up the park prior to the show.  If it were not insulting enough having the last minute increase in participating artists, calling rejected artists to participate, and increasing the booth fees, now they want artists to pick up trash! 


I also fail to understand how a show as big as Bayou City can be operating in the red.  This organization has great corporate sponsorship.  Who has been putting their fingers in the pie???????


This financial irresponsibility is what killed the Texas Arts and Crafts show in Kerrville.

Notfooled
Notfooled

I am very bothered by the unethical act of attempting to change the number of participating artists after a contract was forced upon the artists by this show.  Artists never have any input into the contracts we sign - it is always a completely one sided affair which as clearly exhibited in this instance -leaves us with potential financial loss.  To know that all the risks we take in this business -bad weather, under attendance, travel risks, theft or low sales - are now compounded by the utter disregard and incompetent communications this new show director and the new board of directors has shown is nothing less than outright affront.  We expect some respect.  We expect to be treated like professionals who have a career we have much invested in.  Instead, half truths,  contractual shenanigans and multiple decisions with no artist input and apparent disregard for common sense appear to be the new norm for Bayou City.  I really and truly hope this show caves so that a new or better managed group with artist's interests is formed to fill the leadership vacuum that exists in Houston. 

wainright
wainright

The Art Colony Association's plan to expand the number of artist to 450 and to make the show a much longer walk for patrons is going to kill this show.  The best artists you love seeing at Bayou City are going to abandon this show because they will no longer be able to make enough money.  Do you want your Bayou City to be just another big, crass street festival?  Or do you want Houston to have a show where the really good artists come to exhibit?   Let the board of directors of Bayou City know that you love your artists and art show and don't want them to stupidly drive the artists away.  Go to  http://www.artcolonyassociation.org/board/ 

ProfessionalArtist
ProfessionalArtist

What this show has done is legally and morally wrong.  Bait and switch with changing the show after the contract between artists and the show.  Artists are moving toward a class action lawsuit against this incompetent board of directors.  Many artists will NEVER apply to this show again because of these actions. Congratulations Board. You've successfully ruined this once great show.

impossibletheatreco
impossibletheatreco

Actually, being stale is not the "last thing you want to do." The last thing you want to do is come in from a place of complete in-experience and destroy one of the highest quality events of its kind in the nation, with complete incompetence. Major show directors across the country have been shaking their heads at the complete insanity of this new board. Susan Fowler's quotes just reinforce to me, that she is completely in the dark. What a shame.

Mary Miller
Mary Miller

So... Penalize the existing participants due to bad luck with weather? How about moving this to GRB or the like? Better parking for people attending as well.

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