Photo credit: American Craft Council

The American Craft Made Marketplace, which returned to the Baltimore Convention Center in May for the first time in two years, will be back again in March 2023.

Organizers are accepting applications through July 15, 2022, for artists wanting to showcase their work.

Running from March 3-5, 2023, the American Craft Made Marketplace features three-dimensional pieces from a diverse range of artists. This will be the 46th year the marketplace is held at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The event is sponsored by the non-profit American Craft Council, which stems from the American Craft publication.

The marketplace is now looking for artists. Applications are due by July 15 on the American Craft Council’s website or on ZAPP. The application fee is $45.

For artists new to the American Craft Made Marketplace, the American Craft Council offers the American Craft Made Emerging Artists program. Artists accepted as emerging artists will receive reduced booth fees, opportunities for awards, and support from exhibitors.

“Our flagship event in Baltimore is open to artists from across the country who are creating work that reflects the diversity of contemporary craft. Come be a part of our community, and we’ll help you share your story and sell your work to our focused audience of craft enthusiasts,” the American Craft Council says on its website.

On average, the marketplace draws 17,000 attendees to the Baltimore Convention Center. According to the American Craft Council, the 2020 American Craft Made Marketplace amassed an estimated $5.2 million in retail art sales.

The marketplace returned to the Baltimore Convention Center in May 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After many challenging months, we are seeing excitement from artists and supporters for the return of in-person events that provide the unique opportunity for artists and the community to connect on a more intimate level,” Keona Tranby, marketing director for the American Craft Council, said in a statement.

In an interview with Baltimore Fishbowl, Tranby noted the importance of the in-person marketplace to artists’ livelihood as they work to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Visual artists took a major hit during the pandemic. According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation, the unemployment rate of non-performing artists rose by more than 12% from January 2020 to May 2020.

However, the American Craft Council has been working to relieve artists from the struggles brought on by COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, the council has developed grant programs and additional funding sources to support artists.

The pandemic has also led to a decline in marketplace attendance. According to Tranby, attendance has been down after many artists were unable to finance their work through the pandemic. She also notes that many previous vendors have retired during quarantine. 

With the decline in attendance, the American Craft Council is looking to draw in the “new generation”: millennials and Gen Z. Shifting to fit the times, the council has developed virtual programs that they hope will draw in younger, more tech-savvy generations interested in craft.

For artists and attendees who cannot take part in the in-person event, the American Craft Council has established an e-commerce marketplace that runs in tandem with the in-person marketplace.

The council is also working to institute the American Craft Made Online Artists Directory. Created to help artists gain visibility, the directory allows American Craft Made artists to display their work online over the course of a year. The directory is anticipated to launch in early September.

Along with the hybrid marketplace system, the American Craft Council has also developed a social media mentoring program for vendors, which is held in-person at the Baltimore Convention Center. With the help of social media marketing professionals, artists can learn how to market their business by curating a profile. Sessions are free and one-on-one with the professional.

“As an organization, we are committed to keeping craft artists and the community connected, inspired, and thriving, which is exactly what we intend to do at the upcoming events,” said Tranby.

Liv Barry

Liv Barry is Baltimore Fishbowl's 2022 summer reporting intern. Barry is rising junior at Washington College, where she is majoring in communication and media studies and double minoring in journalism,...