Event Information

An Occasion for the Arts 2017, 48th Annual

Merchants Square, Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia (South)

Phone: (757) 565-7585
Event Dates: 10/7/17 - 10/8/17
Application Deadline: 4/30/17 Midnight EST

The application deadline has passed.


Images: 5 (a booth shot is required)

Fee (Application Fee): $35.00

You can submit up to 2 applications for this show.


Event Summary
Since 1969, An Occasion For The Arts has been held on the first weekend of October in the heart of historic downtown Williamsburg, Virginia. Last year 140 outstanding artists from 23 states and Canada displayed and sold their art at the event. Williamsburg is the home of the College of William & Mary with an affluent alumni base residing in the area. It is also a top tourism and retirement destination. Median household income for James City County is $76,000 and adjoining York County is $80,900, some of the highest in Virginia.
Our ambition is to be the best show possible for those exhibiting with us, and our commitment is to balance the show so it showcases artists’ work as unique and provides the potential for sales. We are dedicated to maintaining high standards and work diligently to foster a positive environment for artists and patrons.
  • Friday set-up and Sunday tear-down drive adjacent to booth
  • Booths arranged so each artist has two outside walls
  • Reserved artist-only parking (includes oversize vehicles)
  • Complimentary invitation to Friday's AOFTA Launch Concert
  • Booth sitters
  • $5,000 in awards
  • Full Color Printed program delivered to 16,500 households
  • Catered Awards breakfast
  • Free bottled water delivery and lunch delivery
  • 24/7 Security

This year, the show will feature 140 to 145 artists in fourteen imaginative and artistic mediums.

General Information
2017 Calendar
Wednesday, January 18th Applications Open (via Zapplication.com)
Sunday, April 30 Applications Close at midnight (EST) 
3rd Week in May Jury meets on site (applications reviewed by category and in order of date received)
Wednesday, June 7th Jury results e-mailed to all artists
Thursday, July 6th Booth Fees are Due (Standard Booth 10 X 10 with two outside walls $375 )
Monday, July 31st Cancellation refund deadline (90% refund); after this date, refunds for personal hardships
will depend on the availability of wait listed artists in your category.
Tuesday, August 1st Booth assignment packet e-mailed
Friday, October 6th 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM – Early Setup
Saturday, October 7th 5:30 AM - 9:30 AM Artists arrival and setup
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Day 1: An Occasion for the Arts
Starting at 10:00 AM, Judging for Artists Awards in 2D and 3D categories
Sunday, October 8th 8:00 AM Awards Breakfast in the Court Yard Café
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Day 2: An Occasion for the Arts
5:30 PM  Artist's vehicles allowed on the street
The Fact Sheet
Location In the center of Historic Colonial Williamsburg, VA, a popular destination of people from around the world. This is an outdoor show - the event goes on RAIN OR SHINE.

Leo Charette
Executive Director
(e) aofta.artists@gmail.com
(p) 757.565.7585

An Occasion for the Arts
P.O. Box 363
Williamsburg, VA 23287

Application Fee and Deadline $35 US dollars; deadline April 30
Images for Application: 4 images of work + 1 booth image

Number of Artists 140-145
Artists Selected by Jury: Panel of 5 jurors will select 130 artists, omitting 10-13 exempt artists which includes award winners from the previous year. Applications will be reviewed by category and in order of application received.
  1-7 points score per juror is used.
Display Tents/Canopies (White) are required and must be professional grade (e.g. Trimline, Showoff, Lite dome, Caravan, Ez-Up, Crafthut) with a minimum of 40 pound weights on each corner to provide safety to artists and guests.
Booth Spaces: All booths will be arranged so each will have two outside walls and be separated by an alley. The layout includes two (2) sections on Duke of Gloucester Street and one (1) section on Boundary Street. 
Booth Fee: $375 (standard 10X10); $750 for Double Booths (limited number 10X20). No electricity available; only battery powered lights allowed.
Awards: Minimum of $5000 will be awarded in prize money. 12 Awards will be given in 2D and 3D categories. Award winners are jury exempted in the next year's show. 

Security During the Show: Williamsburg police officers will be present and will patrol the show locations from Friday evening thru Sunday.

Sales Tax: Sales tax in Williamsburg Virginia is 6%. Good news for artists not residing in Virginia and do less than 3 shows in the state annually; you do not need to open a Sale and Use account with the state. You will need to collect sales tax and file a Temporary Sales Tax Certificate/Return (ST-50) form after the show. Download  ST-50 Form (.pdf)
AOFTA on the Web & Facebook (Web)  www.aofta.org ; (Facebook) on.fb.me/1ryanMt

How to Apply

  • The application fee is thirty-five dollars ($35), and is non-refundable. Your application will not be complete until payment is received. The deadline of Sunday, April 30, 2017 by midnight (EST)
  • We encourage artists to prepare images to meet ZAPP requirements prior to uploading them to your ZAPP profile. Visit this link to the ZAPP Help Center to learn about Image Preparation.
  • Each application must include five (5) images: four (4) of artwork and one (1) of booth display.
  • Accepted artists' images may be considered for promotional use.
  • You can submit up to two applications when entering multiple categories, however, only one application can be submitted per category.

About Booth Display Image Requirements

  • Do not submit a booth image with any identifiable signage or with the artist in the image. Jury selection will be anonymous.
  • The best booth image is taken of the front of the booth showing three walls to give the best overall view and sense of the artist’s work.
  • Booth image must be representative of the booth quality you intend to show at AOFTA.
  • The purpose of the booth image is to ensure that you have a complete body of work, which is represented in the first four (4) images and to give us a fair and accurate representation of your overall layout and presented work AS IT WILL APPEAR IN AOFTA.
  • The booth display image may also be used on site for quality control purposes.

Jury Selection

Jurors change annually (100%) and are chosen by the Executive Director from past award-winning exhibitors (3) and other outstanding professionals in the arts community (2). This year our panel of 5 jurors will select 130 artists, omitting 8-13 exempt artists including award winners from the previous year.

During the third week in May, the jury panel meets for one day in Williamsburg to review and score ALL applications. Applications are reviewed by category and in order of date received. All applicants remain anonymous during the jury process. Artwork, booth image and submitted artist statement will be all that is considered in selection. Applications will receive a 1-7 points per juror (#4 score omitted) resulting in a total score that can range between 5 - 35 points. The jury will be asked to evaluate applications on these criteria:

  • Creativity, original thought and intent, going beyond the expected, the unusual
  • Identity of design, consistency of style and professional presentation
  • Strong overall concepts
  • Excellence in artistic craftsmanship

We start with the highest jury scores. We are looking for the most creative, skilled and diverse artists in each category, but we are also committed to balancing the show so it will showcase artist's work as unique, providing the potential for strong sales. We maintain a balanced count of artists within each category based on the jury scores and our perception of the local market. That balance at times can get adjusted as we evaluate post-event data from previous years. For example, in 2014 we invited 40 painters  (27.8% of the show) but in 2016 we invited 26 painters (18.8% of the show). Yes, the painting category became more competitive. If the goal is to present work as unique and with the potential for strong sales, we believe no category should be greater than 20% of the show.  

In the case of scoring ties (with a range 5 -35 possible scores, ties ocurr), we then consider two additional criteria:
  1. the mix between new artists and returning artists (we would like 2/3 returning and 1/3 new)
  2. local artists who live within a 25 mile radius of Williamsburg. We attempt to have between 10% and 15% of the show be comprised of local artists. In 2014, 21 of 143 artists were local (15%) and in 2016, 16 of 138 artists were local (12%) .
AOFTA maintains a waitlist of artists from the jury process. The Executive Director will add artists to the show by medium to maintain balance when openings become available. Please do not call.

Here is the breakdown of selected artists in 2016 and our anticipated openings for 2017 (minus jury exempt artists).

2016 Artists by Category and 2017 Anticipated Openings
Category Total in 2016 % of Show New Artists 2016 Local Artists 2016 Anticipated for 2017
2-D Mixed Media 11 8% 5 1 9
3-D Mixed Media 7 5.1% 3 0 7
Ceramics 18 13% 5 3 17
Digital 2 1.4% 2 0 3
Drawing and Pastels 4 2.9% 2 1 4
Fiber 7 5.1% 3 1 7
Glass 6 4.3% 1 1 6
Graphics and Printmaking 3 2.2% 0 0 4
Jewelry 26 18.8% 14 2 23
Metal 3 2.2% 0 1 3
Painting 26 18.8% 7 3 24
Photography 10 7.2% 3 2 10
Sculpture 5 3.6% 3 0 4
Wood 10 7.2% 6 1 9
Totals 138   54 16 130 (w/ exempt 143)
Artistic Categories
2 Dimensional
2-D Mixed Media
These are works that incorporate the use of two or more media such as ink & pastel, or painting and collage-type of materials, which are combined in a single original work. No components manufactured by others may be used. No catalog merchandise is permitted.
Digital (Computer) Art
Includes original work created by using computer programs to significantly manipulate or alter source material(s) such as scans or digital files. Work must be signed and be limited editions, using only archival quality materials. Digital photographers, i.e., those who use a digital camera or process images digitally to perform standard manipulations, (cropping, color/tone adjustment, sharpening, etc.) should apply in the Photography category. This includes photo collage and painting on photographs, which need to be in the Photography category. Digital Art prints must be made from the artist’s original digital file under the artist’s supervision. In all cases, works need to be produced by the exhibiting artist. Photography is not permitted in this medium.
Drawing and Pastels 
Original compositions that are drawn by the artist's hand incorporating ink, chalk, wax, crayon, charcoal, pastel, pencil, etc. or from the fluid medium of inks and washes applied by pen or brush.
Painting (Oil/Acrylics/Encaustic/Tempera/Watercolor)
These are original compositions that are created by the artist's hand. Painting over prints/giclees or pre-existing images (regardless of the substrate) is not considered an original. These are considered "altered reproductions" and must go in browse bins and labeled as outlined below.
Includes all photographic processes, which begin with a camera lens. Photographs made from the artist’s original image, both from film and original digital files, are included in this category.  Photo collage and painting on photographs, which are traditional photographic processes need to be in this category. Photographers are required to disclose both their creative and printing processes (including any digital alteration and or hand painting, over painting, etc). The process must be displayed with the photograph or indicated in the displayed artist's statement. Work must use only archival quality materials. In all cases, the work must be produced and printed by the exhibiting artist or under the artist's supervision.
Graphic and Printmaking
Prints are defined as multiple originals where the artist's hand has manipulated the plates, stone, blocks, composite reliefs, or screens and which are properly signed and numbered in limited editions. Photocopies, giclees, or offset reproductions, machine-produced images are not considered print originals. They are considered reproductions and must go in browse bins and labeled as such.
3 Dimensional
3-D Mixed Media
Three-dimensional works incorporating multiple materials. If recycled materials are used they must be altered or used in a way different from their original purpose.
Original functional and/or non-functional works created by the artist from clay, porcelain, stoneware, and/or earthenware. No factory-produced work, no RAM pressed work allowed. Clay work from commercial molds is prohibited. Painted commercial slip-cast work is prohibited.
Works created from fibers and beads, including basketry, weaving, papermaking, leather, bead weaving and fabric. No mass or factory-produced work is allowed in the show, regardless of additional modification or enhancement by the artist. Beadweaving is not bead stringing, it is glass seed beads woven bead by bead into a fabric.
This is work that has been handcrafted by the artist by glass blowing, fusing, casting or kiln forming, or original designs in stained glass.  No pre-manufactured items, regardless of additional modification or enhancement by artist, are permitted.
Hand-fabricated jewelry designed and made by the artist in metals, wire wrapping, precious metal clay, wood, fiber, gems, stones, flame-worked beads, and bead weaving is acceptable. Work that has been designed by the artist, but with no subsequent hands-on work by the artist is strictly prohibited (e.g., casting services). No commercial casts or molds are allowed. No more than 15% of a piece may consist of commercial findings. Commercially purchased components (beads, glass, metal, other materials not made by the artist) that are strung or assembled and/or twisted on wire, with no substantial original work done by the artist are not acceptable. Precious metal clay jewelers must label their work as such.
These are original works that are created through the forging, twisting, and fabricating of various metals. The emphasis here is on functional, not sculptural work.  Sculpture and jewelry should not be put in this category.
Three-dimensional works incorporating any materials that are carved, modeled, constructed or cast. If recycled materials are used they must be altered or used in a way that is different from their original purpose.
Original handcrafted work in wood (functional or non-functional) that is hand-tooled, machine-worked, turned or carved.




Show Participation

Adherence to the following rules during the show is necessary to maintain the quality of the show at a high level for artists and patrons. An Occasion for the Arts considers the enforcement of its rules to be a necessity and a responsibility. Show officials will visit booths during the show to meet artists and answer any questions. Non-compliance with the rules, outlined below, can result in requests for work to be removed from display and for sale, and/or expulsion from the show. If an artist is removed from the show, no booth fee refunds will be issued.
  1. A photo ID (drivers license or passport) of the artist is required during check-in. In addition the show has the right to check ID during the show.
  2. Artists must be present during the entire event. No dealers, agents or representatives will be permitted.
  3. Work done by a production studio is not acceptable. AOFTA wants artwork made by the hands of the artists selling the work. If the hands of others make the artwork, please don’t apply to the show. You will not be accepted. If you are a production studio, AOFTA is not for you.
  4. Buy-sell and/or imports are not allowed. Work from kits, commercial designs, done in classes or workshops are also prohibited. Artists selling work that is not their own will be expelled from the show.
  5. No sharing of booths is allowed. Only artists who have been juried will be allowed to display
  6. Artists are responsible for proper insurance and protection of work and booth. An Occasion for the Arts is not responsible for damage to work or booth due to weather or unrelated incidents.
  7. Artists may display only items that are for sale.
  8. Artists may only exhibit work in the category in which they were juried. Exhibited work must be consistent in style, quality, and method with juried images. (e.g., All jewelry must be juried in the jewelry category; no glass jewelry in a glass booth unless such has been juried)
  9. AOFTA Policy regarding "bread & butter" pieces. We realize that in order to make shows financially feasible, some artists must sell less expensive, "bread & butter" creations. Our guidelines regarding their sale are: 1) The b&b pieces must NOT be the largest part of inventory that is displayed and they should occupy only a small part of your booth and less than 10% of stock, 2) be in the same style and category as the work you were accepted in. For example, a) note cards reproduced from an artist’s original work may be exhibited but in small quantity, or b) a wood turner may sell wooden pens provided they have created them and are in small quantity. What you have juried with into the show should be the prime focus and occupy the vast majority of your booth.
  10. Prohibited are: commercially manufactured or reproduced items; (For example: posters, mouse pads, magnets, etc); T-Shirts and commercial clothing; any item that employs the use of commercially available molds or patterns; items that have been purchased and then embellished.
  11. All hand painted photographic or graphic and printmaking artwork must have been printed under the supervision of the artist and signed and numbered where it is clearly visible to patrons. Exhibited images may be a unique print or in a numbered editions.
  12. An artist’s statement describing the techniques, materials, and processes used in the creation of work should be posted visibly in the booth. Our patrons will appreciate this.

Booth Information

Booth Fees and Information

We have revised the show's layout for 2017 to take advantage of the buying energy around Merchants Square. The show will be arranged into 3 artist's sections: 1 section is on Boundary Street (Blue), and now 2 sections on Duke of Gloucester Street (Orange and Green). Our goal is for the layout to foster sales evenly across the show and for average gross sales not to vary between sections by more than 15%. All booths are arranged so each artist has two outside walls.
Booths on Duke of Gloucester or on Boundary Street
If the layout map does not appear below click here

$375 –Booths on Boundary Street
(10 X 10 w/ two exposed outside walls)
Description: Booths on Boundary Street have storage behind and are placed only on one side of the street.

$375– Booths Duke of Gloucester
(10 X 10 w/ two exposed outside walls)
Description: Booths on Duke of Gloucester are placed in two rows that are back to back with limited storage.

$750 –Double Booth 
(10 X 20) w/ both outside walls exposed)
Description: Limited number (approx. 10) and scattered throughout the show

ELECTRICITY IS NOT AVAILABLE to artist booths. Generators are not allowed but marine batteries or battery packs can be used.



Addendum: Why Not Extend Your Stay?

Williamsburg is a popular destination; treat yourself to a holiday during the week and use the weekends to participate in other area shows.
Area Art Shows in Succession
Sept 30- Oct. 1 October 7-8 October 14-15
Neptune Festival An Occasion for the Arts Bethesda Row Art Festival
    Port Warwick Art & Sculpture Festival
Area Attractions
Busch Gardens®
Colonial Williamsburg
Historic Jamestowne
Jamestown Settlement
Water Country USA®
Yorktown Battlefield
Yorktown Victory Center
Golf in Williamsburg