By MORGAN LEE Associated Press
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Artists and artisans from more than 50 nations will lose a key source of income and engagement after the International Folk Art Market canceled its annual open-air bazaar in New Mexico due the coronavirus pandemic, event organizers said Tuesday.
Market CEO Stuart Ashman announced the suspension of this year’s June market in Santa Fe that typically brings together about 160 overseas artists for a three-day brokered sale of textiles, paintings, jewelry and other items.
The coronavirus has derailed all three major summer arts markets in Santa Fe, including Santa Fe Indian Market, that are engines of the local economy and support a vast cottage industry across the American Southwest and internationally.
Ashman said his organization is brainstorming about ways to provide a financial lifeline to faraway artists that might involve charitable giving, sales or online storytelling — even as its own boutique for pop-up consignment sales and artists’ presentations in Santa Fe has been closed by a statewide shutdown order for nonessential businesses.
“We’re really mindful of what this means to the artists most of all,” Ashman said. “We as an organization are going to survive … but we’re really concerned about the well-being of the artists — not just their health but their financial stability.”
The folk art market puts an emphasis on international cultural exchange, providing language interpreters for non-English speakers along with a crash course in entrepreneurship for first-time vendors.
Ashman said folk artists return home with an average of $14,000 — a significant sum in developing or war-torn economies.
New Mexico health official have reported nearly 800 COVID-19 infections and 13 related deaths across the state of 2.1 million residents.
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber is bringing together organizers of the city’s three largest summer art markets this week for a meeting that could generate a coordinated online presence to help sustain artists and artisans, Ashman said.
The coronavirus pandemic has cast a shadow over New Mexico’s vibrant arts scene, shutting down world renowned public and private museums devoted to things such as low-rider car culture to Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, while scuttling classes at the federally chartered Institute for American Indian Arts college.