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Boston craft show endures despite tragedy

The Society of Arts and Crafts celebrated its 12th annual Craftboston Spring Show April 19-21 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. After being shut down for one day because of the hunt for suspects in the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks, attendance was still close to what it had been in previous years.

Mark Del Guidice's booth at the 12th annual Craftboston Spring Show.

Alyce Delbridge, programs associate for the society, confirmed an exhibitor count of roughly 200 individuals, with about 30 of them specializing in handcrafted wooden furniture and other items.

“The Craftboston Spring Show has traditionally been our larger show and then Craftboston Holiday is a more selective show of about 90 artists that happens in December. This year we had about 6,000 attendees. We usually we get between 6,000 and 8,000 attendees, but the bombing scare affected that.”

Mark Del Guidice, studio furniture maker from Concord, Mass., is a regular exhibitor and a member of the society’s board. He said he was impressed with the turnout in light of the horrific tragedy.

“We set up Wednesday and Thursday, had a gala Thursday night, then Friday everything fell apart here in Boston and they basically shut the city down. But it reopened Saturday and I was impressed with the craft show attendance on Saturday and Sunday, despite what had happened. It wasn’t a really enthusiastic buying crowd. The events earlier in the week certainly dampened everyone’s spirits,” says Del Guidice.

“For me, the show is also a form of advertising. Sometimes I sell big pieces, sometimes I sell small pieces and sometimes it’s just advertising, and sometimes it’s my market here because I live here. This turned out to be a little more advertising for me, but I really chalked it up to the events of the week.”

Duncan Gowdy, a furniture maker from Holden, Mass., says he did so well this year that he will definitely exhibit again.

“This is my second year exhibiting and I did much better than last year. Maybe it was just the people that were in town by chance or maybe people recognized my work form the previous year. It’s a great show,” says Gowdy.

Show attendees generally come from the Greater Boston area. Delbridge says this year’s mix was more diverse than ever, illustrating the general public’s growing appreciation for fine crafts.

“With a lot of crafts shows, the demographic tends to be an older, more affluent population. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from our exhibitors saying that while that definitely rings true for our demographic as well, our show-goers are a much younger crowd than what exhibitors see at other shows. So we feel like we are starting to pull in more people that are in their 30s and 40s and people in their early 20s,” she says.

Contact: The Society of Arts and Crafts, 175 Newbury St., Boston, MA 02116. Tel: 617-266-1810.

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue.

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