Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m an artist who’s started selling my jewelry at local festivals. I’m not
dependant on the money to pay my mortgage, but I do like knowing
people appreciate my work. The sales allow me to reinvest in supplies,
and are also a validation that it’s worth my time to sit in the hot booth
for days schmoozing with strangers. My favorite festival had
attendance that was down by a whopping 50% this year. My sales
were down by 40%, so I did better than some folks, but still it was a
sorry sum. There were many other unique activities in the area the
same weekend, but I also thought the organizers did an exceptionally
poor job of advertising and discouraged attendance by raising ticket
prices 50%, even though there were fewer artisans, food booths, and
musicians than last year. Now they are asking if artists will donate an
extra 5% of sales to help the non-profit that sponsors the event. They
say it is voluntary but selling is determined by a jury each year, and I
would like to think next year would be better. Should I “donate” part
of my sales and not look back, or should I tell them what I think of this
year’s show?


Dear Tired:

I’d suggest you give them both the benefit of your retrospective
wisdom, and a little of your reduced earnings. If the other artists were
equally impacted you will probably not be alone in your
disappointment and observations. Sometimes certain festivals run
their course, and other times they rebound, so perhaps this was just
an off year. Two bad ones in a row and I’d pass.

It’s worth offering to have a heart-to-heart with the organizers to tell
them what you feel from a vendor perspective. But if your sales were
down, the amount they are asking you to contribute is less than in a
great year, I’d offer to “donate” at least half of what they are asking
for, unless you do not want to sell your wares there in the future. Not
doing so might not be a cause for them to reject you. But if you want
to sell there next year, think of it as a one-time tax.