International Folk Art Market Hopeful for In-Person Market in 2021

Nonprofit prepares for the best

Not a day goes by without someone reaching out to ask about what events will or won't happen in 2021 in the era of COVID-19, and the International Folk Art Market is taking a position of extreme optimism. The organization announced today it's preparing for a potential in-person event this July.

"We're planning to do it in two locations if we're allowed," says CEO Stuart Ashman. "We're assuming we can have gatherings of 100 people or less—which is kind of aspirational, but it that's the case, we could do 15 artists at each location, timed tickets for 90 minutes, and then we'd start on Wednesday and go through Sunday, repeating the process the next week."

Ashman estimates this would allow IFAM to host 60 artists overall—less than half of the usual number, but still better than nothing. IFAM already phased to an online auction version of the market in 2020 and a retail space at its IFAM Center (620 Cerrillos Road, 992-7600), both of which, Ashman says, did well in the lead-up to Christmas. Things have slowed in recent months, however, but that's an issue for all retail businesses.

As for the idea of market this year, Ashman says the decision to plan for an in-person event comes down to two elements: health orders and time.

"We accepted 162 artists this year and sent them a survey asking if they would come to a reduced-size market if they could," he tells SFR. "Seventy-five answered and said they would, if visas were available, if everything were in place with COVID restrictions; and of those 162, 23 live in the United States, so they could maybe even drive if conditions allow. We're optimistic."

Ideally, Ashman continues, half of the market would take place on Museum Hill like in a normal year, the other half at the IFAM Center parking lot, which is reportedly large enough for a tent that would allow for 7 and a half feet between vendor booths. Ashman also says the system on which staff is working would allow for 65 visitors per 90-minute window with a 15-minute break in between to sanitize the booths. Ashman estimates the market could serve up to 6,000 visitors over the two-week period with that plan—again, another blow in terms of numbers, but good news for artists who rely on market sales.

"We're working with the Museum Hill board of regents to get approval up there, and obviously that will be based on the health orders," Ashman says. "The agreement they would sign literally says 'health orders permitting.' We're planning. We're going over everything we would do, and we'd stop at some point if it's just not possible, but the market takes a lot of preparation—we probably have to have everything in place no later than April 1."

That's a few short months away, but better to be ready to go than to miss out on an opportunity.

"The market is expected to happen in July," Ashman adds. "That's what we're planning."

Currently, Santa Fe County's COVID activity puts it in the state's most restrictive level of public health orders—red. The green level, the state's least restrictive, at present imposes a mass gathering limit of 20 people. In order to get to green, the county would need to get to new COVID-19 case incident rates equal to or less than eight cases per 100,000 inhabitants and test positivity rates of 5% or lower.

As of the last update to the evaluation five days ago, Santa Fe County has 46.30 new cases per 100,000 and a test positivity rate of 9.04%. Two weeks before that, the county's case rate was 34 per 100,000 and its positivity rate was 7.16%.

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