American Craft Week is coming up. Here’s how to join in!
Currently in its third year, American Craft Week is a project of Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow. It was started as a grassroots movement to celebrate good design, high quality materials and the excellent craftsmanship found in American-made goods. According to Diane Sulg, co-chair and owner of Maddi’s Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina, “The main idea is to make noise – everyone, all on the same week, calling attention to American crafts.”
The original concept for this celebration and focus on craft is loosely based on the success of “Restaurant Week” which has spurred interest throughout the country. In that spirit, the American Craft Week website has a state-by-state directory listing events taking place in galleries, studios, and arts centers nationwide.
Sulg urges craft artists to get involved, saying, “This is the important fourth quarter, leading into the holidays, and is the right time to bring your handmade work to the attention of potential shoppers. Plus, good weather at this time of year is a perfect backdrop for the celebration.”
She cites several examples of events, saying, “In Vermont alone, there are 140 studios open from one end of the state to the other. Some promotions tie in with charities. Tamarack in West Virginia is displaying the world’s longest knitted pink scarf to partner with breast cancer awareness. In Western North Carolina, American Craft Week is huge business, creating a real cultural tourism event with tons of participants. Even the mayor of Asheville and the Chamber of Commerce are getting involved. And in Seattle, Pike Place Market came aboard and is using American Craft Week to spotlight 200 craft artists who sell their work in the historic market.”
How can you become a partner in the celebration of American Craft Week? Sulg suggests:
- Schedule a “meet the artist event” at a local gallery.
- Open your studio to the public, and give a demonstration. This is very attractive because people want to talk to artists and understand their process.
- Partner with other craft artists to have a sale. You will need to do some marketing to make this a success, and American Craft Week is the “hook” you can use to stir interest and drive traffic to your sale.
- Use your email list to send out a newsletter about what is happening in your area. Talk about your own participation.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Bring attention to the importance of craft, buying handmade and local, and the Made in America movement to their readers.
- Create a blog post about American Craft Week and how you are celebrating – and selling – your own handmade work.
- Participate in their essay contest and win great prizes including a $500 gift certificate to a gallery!
- Promote on social media. Spread the word to help get other artists and the public involved.
- Use this opportunity to support related charities. CERF+ is a good candidate since it exists to help craft artists in emergency related events, and provides excellent support and information.
- Attend an American Craft Week event yourself and enjoy!
Do you have a scheduled event for American Craft Week or more creative ideas on how to become a part of the celebration? Please share.