Attracting Artists to Your Festival – Call For Artists

Call For ArtistsA Call For Artists is the recruiting package for your festival.  You are trying to attract the appropriate genre, mix and caliber of artist for your festival venue. A Call For Artists is not simply posting a message that you are now accepting applications. I learned my lesson on Call For Artists when I was planning a small local festival in a very artsy town.  We wanted to include local art and artists but we were not clear about what that meant in our Call For Artists or in the application. When we received an application for a booth that would sell jewelry made in Bali we had to consider our purpose, it was beautiful jewelry but did not fit our festival commitment to local artists. We had to make a decision…as will you. Set the expectation for artists in your application and recruiting statements – not to be restrictive, but to be transparent to your artists and to end up with the festival you envisioned.

The following are some planning questions and suggestions for a Call For Artists that will recruit the best artist  mix for your festival.

What is your festival mission

This does not need to be complex, a simple a statement about the festival will help the artist understand if their work fits the festival expectations.  Here are some questions to answer:

  • What is your setting?  Park, street, marina, farm, urban atrium…
  • How do you want the artist to participate?  Sell, demonstrate techniques, and involve participants…
  • How does the festival use the fees and give back to the community?  Are you non-profit, how are the fees used, what is returned to the community

Answering these few questions help inform and recruit artists. Here is an example of how that might come together.

2014 will be the 11th annual Index Arts Festival located along Main Street and in the park in the charming town of Index, Washington. Our festival is a fun day for our community to watch local artists create their work, listen to local musicians, and enjoy the variety of art forms featured by artists in the Sky Valley.

Index Arts Festival is a non-profit organization.  Fees collected are used to manage and promote the festival day event.  We also have fundraising activities to support Young Artist education sponsorship.  Information about the festival and application are at

Important Dates

Prepare a list of dates to publish with your Call for Artists.  These dates will help you plan and answer questions from the artists,  include:

  • Applications/Booth Fees Due
  • Festival confirmation notifications emailed
  • Booth Assignments Posted/Emailed
  • Festival Date/s


List any fees to be paid by the artist. If there is a commission charges or a request to report sales mention here.  If you have a jury process provide the detail here (since this website is focused on small local festival I have not included jury details but will provide some links)

Application Process and Artwork Criteria

In this section include where to find the application and what is required from the artist to take part –  in addition to basic name, address and booth information you might consider…

  • Do you want the artist email/website/facebook/twitter/Instagram address
  • Do you want examples of the artist work – image/ recording/excerpt
  • Does the artists’ work need to be family friendly or all audiences appropriate
  • Does the work need to be original, not mass-produced, not imported, will you allow vintage or resale

A legal statement should always be included on the application or in the notification of acceptance.  Include a note such as – Artists are required to operate their booth in a safe and tasteful manner, to comply with the laws of (state/county/city) and to obtain any permits necessary.

Booth Set Up

It is always helpful to give guidance on booth set up.  In the town where I have festival experience we have had every type of weather possible for a summer day in the past 10 years – hot hot, torrential rain, afternoon winds that have blown over a case of ceramics – most events are uneventful but it is always important to add a precaution, and a reminder as many artists may be new to your festival. Here is a suggestion:

Please be prepared for (area) weather conditions.  There will be no refunds for inclement weather.  A freestanding tent is recommended for shelter from sun, rain & wind.  You must have weights to secure your booth as staking into the surface is not possible in all areas.  Booth assignments are made at the discretion of the festival coordinator, however, every attempt will be made to satisfy an artist request.

Festival Contact Information

Do not forget to include a contact email and phone number for the artists to contact.  This information should always be on your website or social sites but it is also important to leave this information with the local chamber office or community office so they have it to refer artists.


We urge your festival committee to consider using these tips when planning your next Call For Artists.

Next post we will cover how to get the word out about your Call For Artists using your local community resources, social media, registration forums and arts organizations listings.


The Art of the Festival is here to share what we know and to share what we learn to help create more enjoyable arts festivals everywhere.



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