After much consideration, we do not feel it is safe for artists or responsible to our community for us to gather large groups of people given the current and ongoing surge of Covid-19 cases in Montana. We are canceling the in-person Missoula Summer MADE fair that was scheduled for August 23rd at Caras Park. There have been quite a few other shows that have shifted to a virtual event for the day/weekend they had originally scheduled in-person. Based on our surveys and talking to customers, we will do a similar thing but showcase our artists online for the entire month of August.
One of the many benefits for MADE fair artists is a personal artist page on the handMADE Montana's website. We hope artists will take this opportunity to pump up their artist pages with additional photos and personal stories around process and inspiration. Customers will be able to visit the artists virtually on their individual Facebook, Instagram, or web pages. Many artists plan to offer discounts for the month of August and may be able to offer local pick-up of hard-to-ship artwork.
For the month of August we will highlight up to ten artists every day, so you can learn a little more about each of our celebrated artists. We will publish a list of retail stores that carry many of these artists' modern handcrafted goods. HandMADE Montana's retail shop at 212 Main Street in downtown Polson currently features over 80 local and regional artists and has a solid representation of some of your favorite MADE fair artists.
At times like this, it is important to adapt and get creative. Many of our artists have done just that. Some are developing new products and refocusing how they connect with customers, while others have answered the call to make masks and other PPE.
HandMADE MT organizes the MADE fairs, and we rely on the booth fees to cover expenses for the shows, and without them, it makes future events a little trickier to pull off. We want to continue to provide opportunities at events and in our retail shop. Our communities are awesome at supporting local artists, and we hope we can all bridge this transition to support artists virtually.
We will be offering booth refunds to artists minus a small amount to cover our incurred expenses, including website updates, promotions, and other fees associated with the event. Alternatively, artists can donate their booth fee to the family of Emily Mohler's Go-Fund-Me page. Emily Mohler (a MADE fair artist), her daughter, and boyfriend were tragically murdered recently by her abusive ex-husband. Funds are being raised to care for the children they left behind.
We would love to have the event and share how awesome our artists are with the rest of the community, but we have a greater responsibility to keep our community safe from the spread of coronavirus. The website receives a fair amount of traffic, and fans are looking for ways to continue to support local artists. We hope to be able to have our fall and holiday events with modifications for health and safety. Applications are currently available. We are hopeful for a future where we can gather together again and celebrate our community through art and modern handcrafted goods.