Having spent the better part of my career in event planning, I've seen many things that can and do go wrong at shows. Some things can be prevented with a bit of insightful planning, other things, well, are just beyond one's control. And with art, craft and vendor show season well underway, it's always good to do some planning to prevent things from going wrong and to put contingency plans into place for the uncontrollable, This applies whether you are a show organizer or renting space at a show.

Here are some DO's and DON'T's to help prevent similar situations that I have encountered: 

😲 DO be prepared for small hands who like to touch your products. A potter I know who makes bowls with beautiful textures keeps one piece at the ready, just for those little hands who like to touch. Then parents can rest assured that nothing will get broken.

😲 DO Trust your intuition if something doesn't feel right.

My most memorial mishap was at an art show where all the grids had been set up in advance. I didn't feel the grids were stable at the area where I was assigned, but the organizers looked at it and advised me it was fine. Alas, a gentlemen who was unsteady on his feet knocked over several of the grids in the row where I was stationed, resulting in several broken frames and broken glass on several art pieces, including mine. Fortunately there was someone in the group would could cut glass and she re-framed the items with broken glass, at the organization's expense. But it was very upsetting and I was not impressed with the organization. Others confirmed to me that I was right that the grids were not stable to begin with.

😲 DO always double check plans and details that others have responsibility for.
      DON'T leave anything to chance.

I was coordinator of an international conference at a local hotel where we discovered at noon that our lunch had not been set up for us! Turned out the person in charge forgot to check the banquet sheets that morning. The staff was great - they got tables set up and food for us within half an hour, but I learned from that mishap to always check the rooms and with the staff the day of to make sure nothing gets missed.

But sometimes things can still go wrong. The next time we were at the same hotel, for the next annual international conference, despite checking that our meals would be ready for us on time, when we did actually make our way to the meeting room, it was only discover another group was sitting down eating our food!

😲 DO have an emergency action plan put together in advance - who will stay with the person who is sick or injured, who will call 9-1-1, and who will meet the emergency unit at the door and guide them in.
     DO know if anyone in your group has CPR or defibrillator training. Emergencies do happen, and one does need to know what to do.
     DO check in advance if cell phones will work where the show is - some facilities block cell phones, so you need to have a back-up plan in case of emergency.

😲 DO bring a change of clothes in case of bad weather. This is a given for outdoor events, but indoor? I've been caught in torrential downpours while bringing my stuff from my car to the building, and without dry clothes to change into. Also a good idea in case of spilling coffee.

😲 DO bring a pool noodle for your tent for an outdoor show. They help to absorb water that may leak during rainy periods. 
     DO check your tent, guy lines, tarps, and other booth props before coming to the show, just in case anything is missing or in need of repair. Signage especially has a tendency to flip the wrong way or hang skewed. You do want customers to see your name. 

😲 DO have a plan or policy in place in case of last minute cancellations - or no-shows - of vendors or artists. It doesn't look good when there's an empty table in the middle of a room, or if a vendor packs up and leaves early. This happens more than you would think. Touch base with anyone on your waiting list a day or two before the show to see if they are still interested, should the need arise. And reconfirm with all your vendors the day before the show. 

😲 DON'T panic or show your stress if things do go wrong. It doesn't help, and if you show stress or anger or panic, then others around you will too. Take a deep breath, stay calm, keep your head on, and decide what steps you need to take to rectify the situation. 


"Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same." I read this quote in Hundred and Thousands: The Journals of...