The chair of the Prince Albert Arts Council made the decision on Monday to cancel a pop up artisan market that was going to host 15 vendors at the Mann Art Gallery this weekend.
The pop up market was going to be held instead of Evergreen Artisan Market, which usually holds up to 45 vendors, when it was cancelled in the spring.
Prince Albert Arts Council chair Vicki Gauthier said near the end of summer the decision was made to hold the pop up market instead, which would have fewer vendors and would include social distancing measures.
Gauthier said organizers planned the event with the intent of making sure vendors and volunteers knew it might have to be cancelled if COVID-19 cases rose.
“After this weekend and the last week of the increasing numbers everyday of just the regular COVID numbers and the number of exposures in the city and surrounding cities, I think folks with the arts council and at the gallery … came to a mutual decision today and said OK well there’s enough evidence here that people are uncomfortable so we decided to make the call today.”
Typically, Evergreen Artisan Market is a juried art show meaning the vendors fill out an application form and submit photos of their work so judges can see if they fit the criteria of the market.
Gauthier said the smaller pop up market was going to be curated instead. She had reached out to past Evergreen vendors, along with artists who have their work up at the Mann Art Gallery gift shop and other stores around the city.
“A number of vendors that I contacted initially had declined to participate because when the decisions were made early on that certain events were being cancelled, they just decided to take a break and I thought that was interesting.”
Gauthier sells pottery and is also taking break this year from markets, and thinks it’s a good decision for other vendors to make.
“It gives people a chance to recharge, think of more and new creative ways of coming up with some products, that’s maybe a positive repercussion of COVID that people are able to sort of re-assess, take a look at things and slow down a bit,” Gauthier said.
Other arts shows across the province like WinterGreen in Regina have decided to take their market online this year. Gauthier said she considered this format for Evergreen but after reaching out to vendors, she said there was little interest.
Gauthier predicts about a third of past Evergreen vendors don’t have an online presence. She said selling products online can be difficult as a lot of shoppers like to see products in person before purchasing them.
“There’s also that customer-vendor interaction. You want to be able to hear the story from the vendor and see what went into making their product because then you can pass that along when you get it as gift or when you use whatever it was that you purchased.”
Gauthier said the planning that went into this year’s event will be carried over to planning a market in fall 2021, which is also dependant on COVID-19 cases and restrictions.