The market for folk art, evidently, is booming. Just consider: The International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe received 571 applications for this year’s event, which takes place this weekend. That’s 130 more applications than in past years. To fit the demand, the market is expanding.
The 25 new booths for artists will be in the back lot at Museum Hill, where the food court used to be. Those food booths are moving to the Santa Fe Botanical Garden parking lot. This year, there will be more art, more artists and more room to manuever. And that’s just one way the much-anticipated event is changing and adapting in 2016. (To find out all the essential details about the market, be sure to watch for the 2016 official Santa Fe International Folk Art Market magazine, which publishes in Wednesday’s paper. Magazine creative director Deborah Villa and her team have worked hard to bring you the stories and images of the people who make the market great — the artists.)
In its 13th year, the folk art market continues to innovate, one secret of its smashing success over more than a decade. The market proper begins July 8 and continues through July 9 and 10, but watch for events all week long. The popular Community Celebration returns to the Santa Fe Plaza on Thursday, with the exciting Artists Procession starting things off before Mamadou Kelly performs on the Plaza Bandstand.
The market opening party (it’s always sold out) takes place as usual on Friday on Museum Hill, with early shopping opportunities for patrons. Then, of course, it’s two days of folk art, with some 20,000 people expected. (Market information is available at folkartalliance.org; remember, to attend folk art market, you start by taking a bus — there is no public parking at the site. All those details are in the market magazine.)
After the selling is through, there will be a resource fair for artists July 11. As artists wait for the “payout” of market, where they receive the proceeds of their sales, they also can tap into information about solar energy sources, micro-lending opportunities and even get an eye exam. For a bead worker or embroiderer, whose art is hard on the eyes, being able to take home glasses is an important opportunity. This resource fair is just another example of the nonprofit behind market — the International Folk Art Alliance — working diligently to expand opportunities for the artists. (It’s a boon for Santa Fe, too, with an $11.3 million impact last year.)
Since it started, the market has been about serving the artists, helping people from countries all over the world bring their goods to eager buyers and then return home with the proceeds so their villages and towns grow stronger. According to the market, artists take home an average of $19,000 each. Considering that the average income in many of the artists’ countries is less than $3 a day, that’s an incredible amount of money for an artist to earn. Over the past 12 years, 850 artists from 92 countries have made some $23 million selling art. They take home 90 percent of the total. This truly is an event that changes lives.
And not just for the artists. Buying a piece of hand-made art creates a connection between purchaser and maker. In the case of the International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe, the artist-buyer connection makes the world a little smaller, more friendly, and definitely a better place for all involved.
The world is in Santa Fe this week. Make sure to take part.