Preview Nights? E-mail
Tuesday, 12 May 2009 08:03



I think most of artists at craft shows have a bit of a problem with Preview Nights. At least those that I’ve spoken at the shows I’ve been visiting the past 9 months.

Usually it goes like this:

Me: How was the preview show last night?
Artist: (look of pain across the face) It was very slow. There were probably 50 or so people here.
Me: But they are buyers, right?
Artist: No.

The problem most artists have with preview nights is that they have to arrive a day early to show. And being that a craft show with a “Show Preview” usually takes place in a larger city (such as Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, etc.) this means an extra day of hotel and expense costs.

The preview night tickets can run anywhere from $50 or more, and the proceeds are usually used to help support a worthy local cause. A ticket many times includes some sort of party and a chance at being the first to buy from the artists.

This is all good if the show producers could guarantee that a number of buyers would buy those tickets. But with the economy the way it is, even the upper crust is feeling the pinch. And this means waiting until the weekend to walk the show – if they visit at all.

The question is who really benefits with these preview nights when they don’t live up to expectations?

The charity or cause? Maybe, depending on how much they have to invest to make it happen on their end.

The show producer? Probably not. In addition to advertising costs, there are other cost issues related to having the facility an extra day they must incur. Plus, if it doesn’t pay off, their reputation can take a hit.

The artist? No. Unless they can recoup the cost for that extra day (plus a little profit) it’s a waste of their time and money. The chance of them selling anything is small when the ratio is 3 to 1 (artists to shoppers).

What are some solutions to solving the preview night blues? Artists I’ve spoken with have been eager to give me their solutions. Here are a few:

Don’t do it at all – at least until the economy changes.
Cancel if a minimum of tickets aren’t sold in advance.
If enough tickets aren’t pre-sold, give tickets to concierges at the best hotels in the city of the show to present to clients free of charge, for entrance after the goodies have been consumed.

I’ve only been to a few preview nights myself. Given that it was a few years ago, the ones I went to weren’t affected by an economy in the tank. I found them interesting and fun, but they were never really crowded and the aisles were naturally thin.

Hopefully while show producers are planning for their round of 2010 shows, they will communicate with their artists and find out if the effort a preview night takes from all involved is really worth having one.




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