Artists upset over Bayou City Arts Festival changes

HOUSTON - The Bayou City Arts Festival is less than two weeks away and organizers say visitors can expect to see some positive changes at their spring show.

However, some artists aren't happy about those changes and they won't be there to display their work.

Organizers say one thing visitors will notice will be more space at this year's event. They're expanding the festival's size, but they are also inviting more artists. That change is not sitting well with some exhibitors.

According to Susan Fowler, the interim director of the Art Colony Association, 300 artists are typically selected from an estimated 1,500 applicants to participate in each festival.  Just weeks ago, those 300 artists learned organizers were opening up the show to 150 more artists.

Since the changes were announced, 33 of the artists have asked for and received a refund.

"There are all kinds of art shows and not that some are better than others, but there are fine arts shows who have limited the number of some of the best people doing street art shows in the country.  Those are the shows I look for -- and that's what I thought I was applying to," said one artist, who asked that he not be identified.

Fowler said the decision to expand the festival was made after a new board of directors was seated in January. She said the decision was based on fiscal responsibility and the desire to provide a more leisurely experience for visitors.

"It really was not intended to hurt the artists. In fact, it was to expose more artists to an under-served market," said Fowler.

Fowler said the nation's fourth largest city can support more artists.

"We have one of the largest pools of executive talent in the U.S., from the oil industry, banking, finance, and medical. We also have one of the largest arts and cultural communities in the US. We believe there's absolutely room for growth here," said Fowler.

Another out-of-state artist told Local 2 while he doesn't think the organizers handled the situation in the best manner, he is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, saying this has been a great show for a long time and he's hoping that will continue this year.

The festival runs March 28 to March 30.

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