See answer below
A Big Art Fair
There is a big art fair in Madison that is known around the country: Art Fair on the Square. Adjacent to this is Art Fair Off the Square which features Wisconsin artists. This is a tremendous undertaking with 500 artists, along with vendors and music entertainment. The entire square (8 blocks) around the capitol building as well as some adjoining streets must be blocked off. It attracts artists from around the country and around 200,000 attendees each year.
The art is higher end than most art fairs and features ceramics, glass, painting, fiber, sculpture, jewelry, graphics, photography, wood, and more.
Each artist pays a fee to be considered for the fair and then on top of that a booth fee if they are accepted. All the food vendors and exhibitors pay a fee. Entertainers play for free. But the event still would not be successful without volunteers.
Volunteers Make it Work
Volunteers pick up trash and maintain recycle receptacles, man the info booths and serve food and drink in stands sponsored by the Art Fair. There is even a crew to check in the other volunteers – there is a lot of help needed.
I volunteered this past week to be “artist relief”, that is, to sit in an artist booth when they needed to take a break or get some food. I wandered up and down one half side of the square probably 20 or so times in my 3 and half hour shift and sat in 6 booths.
How to Pretend to be an Artist
Answer: Volunteer to be artist relief. This is something you could do in the future. No experience necessary and you get to experience this side of being an artist.
Action in the Booth
Mostly it was people watching, checking out the flow of traffic. Watching how some people readily come into booths, others avoid coming too close and some zip into selected booths like a bee drawn to art honey.
Some potential customers came in and while I was not allowed to handle money – I could talk up the art, hand out business cards and encourage these people to hang out until the artists returned.
I got to talk to the artists. Many are just hoping to re-coup their expenses. The long term gain is from making contacts for future sales and return business. Most artist in attendance do multiple shows each summer.
One artists bemoaned not getting any sales yet – she sounded like a fisherman only getting nibbles. But she had on a smile. And later I did see her sell two sizable pieces making her trip worthwhile.
I got a free (veggie) hot dog, a soda and a bunch of discount coupons for my efforts.
This coming weekend, I am volunteering at Fete de Marquette – a music festival. In this case, I will be serving beer under a tent. (And beer drinking by servers is allowed).
But free beer and coupons are not the reason to help out.
The arts are important and Americans agree. http://blog.americansforthearts.org/2016/03/05/americans-support-increases-in-government-arts-funding
Apparently Governments spending on the arts is ticking slightly up but hat number pales in comparison to overall spending.
What can You do?
Go to art events. Show by your presence that you and people like you appreciate these kinds of events.
Volunteer. Not only does it help these events but it is fun. You get to see a different side of the show. You may even get a hot dog.
Buy a CD. Tip the musicians.
Buy something from an artist even if only a small print or get on their mailing list.
Buy food and drink from vendors or the sponsors’ food tent. Buy a souvenir. Sponsors sales go directly to supporting the event.
Donate. Many events also benefit a charity and there are often donation buckets.