An Open Letter to Our Community

With so many festivals happening around our neighborhood, we just want to be sure you know who we are as an organization and what we do each year.

The Bucktown Arts Fest is a non-profit, all-volunteer run, neighborhood celebration of the arts. All proceeds from the fest go to fund, develop and support arts education programming at Holstein Park and in the Bucktown/Wicker Park neighborhoods.

This year will be our 29th festival. What began as four artists showing their work in the park has grown into a community tradition that hosts an estimated 40,000 people each year. We were thrilled to be voted 2013 “Best Art Sale” in the Chicago Reader Readers’ Pick Poll.

Our fest is free to the public. We have no gates and no donation request. True to our roots, we are an arts fest put together by the community, for our community. If you wish to support our mission, we do have donation boxes at the Info Tent and the Beer Tent or you can join our Buck Up Club.

We have no paid staff. We are organized, implemented and managed by a committed group of volunteers, some who have been doing so for 10 years or more. Outside of gratitude, their only reward is a dinner at our monthly meetings.

More than 200 volunteers sign up to work 2-hour shifts on the weekend of the fest to keep things running smoothly. Some even arrive with us at 5:30 am on Saturday or leave with us at 10 pm on Sunday. Together, we build a small city, take it down and get it all cleaned up by Monday morning. We could not do what we do without their dedication.

Our artists are not mass producers. They are individual artists who are at their booth to share their work with you. Each year, our jury selects 190 artists to be invited to the fest.

Our artist booth fees are currently $300 or $200 for senior artists, ages 60 and over. These are among the lowest, if not the lowest, booth fees in the city. Other fests range from $400 – $1200 per booth.

Roughly 60% of the fest is paid for by artist and food vendor fees, 40% comes from beer, sangria and merchandise sales and all proceeds above our expenses go to fund, develop and support arts education program in our neighborhood.

For the fest, we have expenses such as insurance, rentals (like fencing, stages, tents, port-o-pots and dumpsters), electricity, security (off duty police officers from the 14th District), merchandise (largely purchased from Transit Tees) and beer supplies.

But we really like to spend our money on art and artists. We put a big focus on making art accessible to our fest public in the way of theater & dance performers, local bands, kids’ tent entertainers, local theater companies – all to dazzle and amaze our patrons.

When the fest is over, we keep one year’s worth of our expenses in savings and we spend the rest to support arts education in our neighborhood.

At Holstein Park, we pay for the teachers and the supplies for art and music classes. The park receives a small fee from each student, which goes directly to support the park. For the past three years, we have held these four classes in Holstein’s Fall, Winter and Spring sessions:

– Painting & Drawing classes for adults and kids, taught by Connie Hinkle

– Rock Band & Guitar classes for adult and kids, taught by Bucktown Music teachers

We also offer music and art to the 200 kids of Holstein Park’s Summer Day Camp each summer.

We support Zephyr Dance, the artist-in-residence at Holstein Park with grant monies.

And we support the arts in local schools by donating items like band instruments and early reading books, particularly Pulaski Elementary.

If you want to know more, check out What We Fund.

On behalf of every committee member and every volunteer, thank you for the love that you have shown us over the years. We can’t wait to see you again on August 23rd and 24th!

Sincerely,

Melissa Hellstern

President & Committee Chair
Bucktown Arts Fest

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