Event Information

An Occasion for the Arts 2018, 50th Annual

Merchants Square, Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia (South)

Phone: (757) 565-7585
Event Dates: 10/6/18 - 10/7/18
Application Deadline: 4/18/18 Midnight PST

The application deadline has passed.


Images: 5 (a booth shot is required)

Fee (Application Fee): $35.00

You can submit up to 3 applications for this show.


Event Summary
For 50 years, on the 1st weekend of October, An Occasion For The Arts has brought fabulous art to historic downtown Williamsburg, VA. 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 RV & oversize vehicles)
  • Booth sitters, free bottled water and lunch delivery
  • 24 hour security using local police
  • Full color printed program delivered to 18,500 households
  • Awards Reception Saturday Eve; $5,000 in awards; winners jury-exempt the next year.
  • Ranked in top 100 shows by Art Fair Source Book.

This year we will feature 140 to 145 artists in fourteen imaginative and artistic mediums. Consider joining us this Columbus Day Weekend as we celebrate our 50th...

General Information
• How to Apply
• Categories Defined
• Anticipated Openings by Medium
• Booth Cost & Layout
• Requirements
• Edit Your Appl After Submitting
• Virginia Sales Tax
• Who To Contact


• Review Artists from 2017
• Things To Consider Using Zapp
2018 Calendar
Thursday, January 4th Applications Open (via Zapplication.com)
Wednesday, April 18 Perferred Deadline: April 18: $35 per application (Closes at midnight PST)
Final Deadline April 25: $45 per application For details, see How to Apply 
Mon, April 30 - Thur. May 3 Online Jury Process by 8 qualified jury members (4 jurors will evaluate 2D and 4 jurors will evaluate 3D artists) over an extended three day period.
Wednesday, June 6th Jury results e-mailed to all artists
Friday, July 6th Booth Fees are Due (Standard Booth 10 X 10 with two outside walls $375 )
Monday, July 30th Cancellation refund deadline (80% refund); after this date, refunds for personal hardships will depend on the availability of wait listed artists in your category.
Monday, August 6th Booth assignment packet e-mailed
Friday, October 5th 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM – Artists Early Setup
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM – Kick-off Concert (Complementary Tickets)
Saturday, October 6th 5:30 AM - 9:30 AM Artists arrival and setup
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Day 1: An Occasion for the Arts (Art Show)
Starting at 10:00 AM, Judging for Artists Awards in 2D and 3D categories
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM Artist's Awards Reception in the Court Yard Café
Sunday, October 7th 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Day 2: An Occasion for the Arts (Art Show)
5:30 PM  Artists' vehicles allowed on the street
The Fact Sheet
Location The setting for the event is on Merchants Square,  a popular destination of people from around the world, nestled between historic Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary. This is an outdoor show - the event goes on RAIN OR SHINE.
2017 Artists' Sales Survey 63.04% of the 2017 artists returned surveys
On a 5 pt scale (5 = highest) artists ranked art quality at 4.32
91.95% of artists responding said they would return if invited
23% had sales between $5000 - $21,000
52% had sales between $2000 - $4999
25% had sales between $100 - $1999
Ranked in the top 100 shows for sales with sales Trending Up ( © 2018 Greg Lawler's Art Fair Sourcebook)
Booth Spaces All 10X10 booths are $375 and arranged with two outside walls, divided with an alley (everyone has a corner).  
VA Sales Tax Sales tax in Williamsburg, VA is 7%. 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 (Used for shows/events). Download ST-50 Form:  https://www.tax.virginia.gov/sites/default/files/taxforms/retail-sales-and-use/any/st-50-any.pdf

Attendance With no gate, attendance is estimated. The Williamsburg Police estimated attendance in 2017 at 25,000-30,000. This coming year the show will again fall on Columbus Day Weekend and hotels will be filled, bringing a nice mix of local and tourist art patrons. Artists should come with shipping options if art is large.
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.

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
Web:  www.aofta.org 
Facebook: on.fb.me/1ryanMt

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How to Apply

  • Each application must include five (5) images: four (4) of artwork and one (1) of booth display.  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.
  • An Artist's Technical Statement is also required (200 characters). We recommend a statement that provides a balance between material/technique and inspiration. Don't personalize with your name.
  • Wednesday, April 18 is our preferred deadline the application fee is $35. Final deadline is Wednesday, April 25, at midnight (EST) an application fee of $45 will be charged from April 19 – 25. 
  • Why two deadlines? During the week of April 19 and 25,  applications are reviewed. Applications with anomalies (e.g. signage in booth), will be returned for edit. For this to occur, the application window on Zapp will remain open so applications can be edited and resubmitted. Artists may choose not to resubmit, understanding that a full point is deducted from the jury score for not adhering to guidelines. Since the application window is still open, artists can also apply during this later time, but applications will not be reviewed before going to jury.
  • You can submit up to three applications when entering multiple categories, however, only one application can be submitted per category.

Booth Image Requirements

  • Do not submit a booth image with identifiable signage or with the artist in the image. Jury selection is anonymous, as much as possible. 
  • It is preferred that the booth image be taken from the front showing three walls and giving the best overall sense of the artist’s work. 
  • The purpose of the booth image is to show scale of work and ensure that you have a complete body of work, as represented in the first four (4) images.  It will also provide a fair and accurate portrayal of your overall presentation AS IT WILL APPEAR AT AOFTA.
  • The booth display image may also be used on site for quality control purposes.
  • Note: if you are an emerging artist and do not have a booth image at this time, contact the Director and accommodations will be made.

Edit Your Application After It Is Submitted

Yes, we allow edits. Our hope is for each artist to submit the strongest application possible. Since the application cycle goes for three months, we understand that during this time you may have created better images of your art or booth and want to substitute them, or make changes to your artist's statement. Editing your ZAPPlication once submitted is possible and actually quite easy. Email your request and we will mark your application “incomplete” giving you access to make the changes needed. Once changes have been made, you will need to resubmit your application at no extra cost. All changes must be completed and resubmitted before the application deadline. Once the deadline passes, no changes can be made.

Jury Selection

This year AOFTA will use a computer monitor approach to jury artists. Jurors will access artists' applications from various locations. The Jury Process will consist of eight jury members (4 jurors reviewing 2D art categories and 4 jurors reviewing 3D art categories). The jury panels are a combination of Art Professionals (museum curators, gallery owners) and Peer Artists (award winners and artists who are highly respected by their peers).  During the first week in May, our two-jury panels (2D and 3D) will review and score ALL applications online. Jurors will spend three days evaluating artists within the categories of art they have been assigned. 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 resulting in a score that can range between 4 - 28 points. This year 130 artists will be selected, omitting 10-14 exempt artists. Exempt artists include award winners from the previous year and artists who serve on the jury panel. In October, 140-145 artists will exhibit at the show.

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. If the goal is to present artists' work as unique and provide the potential for strong sales, we believe:   

  1. No art category should be greater than 20% of the show
  2. There should be a mix between new and returning artists. We hope approximately 2/3 returning and 1/3 new
  3. The show should include local artists who live within a 25-mile radius of Williamsburg. We attempt to have between 10% and 15% of the show comprised of local artists. 
AOFTA maintains a waitlist from the jury process. The Director will add artists by category to maintain balance when openings become available.

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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.
Photography: 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.
Ceramics: 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.
Fiber: 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.
Glass: 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.
Jewelry: 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.
Metal: 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.
Sculpture: 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.
Wood: Original handcrafted work in wood (functional or non-functional) that is hand-tooled, machine-worked, turned or carved.

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Breakdown of 2017 Artists and Anticipated Openings in 2018
Category Total in 2017 % of Show New Artists 2017 Local Artists 2017 Anticipated for 2018
2-D Mixed Media 7 4.8% 1 1 9
3-D Mixed Media 4 2.8% 1 0 + (1 exempt)
Ceramics 19 13.1% 6 3 17 + (2 exempt)
Digital 3 2.4% 2 0 3 + (1 exempt)
Drawing and Pastels 2 1.4% 1 0 4
Fiber 6 4.1% 2 0
Glass 7 4.8% 2 1 7
Graphics and Printmaking 4 2.8% 0 0 + (1 exempt)
Jewelry 28 19.3% 11 1 25 + (1 exempt)
Metal 5 3.4% 1 2 4
Painting 28 19.3% 6 3 23 + (3 exempt)
Photography 16 11% 7 3 11 + (2 exempt)
Sculpture 5 3.4% 2 0 5
Wood 10 6.9% 2 1 + (2 exempt)
Totals 144   44 15 130 (w/ exempt 143)

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Show Requirements

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, or done in classes/workshops are 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. All artists' work on display must be 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 the sale of "bread & butter" pieces: 1) 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) must 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 displayed 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. 2D Reproductions: All reproductions must be clearly labeled "reproduction" on the front of the piece or clearly labeled on front of a display bin. 
  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.
  13. 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.

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Booth Information

Booth Fees and Information

Our show layout takes advantage of the buying energy around Merchants Square. The show is arranged into 3 artist's sections: 1 section is on Boundary Street (Blue), and 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 divided with a 5' alley.
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.

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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 28-30 October 6-7 October 13-14
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