Belleville’s Art on the Square estimates economic impact at $2.1M

Art On The Square: Economic Impact

Patty Gregory, executive director of Art on the Square talks about the economic impact to the region.
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Patty Gregory, executive director of Art on the Square talks about the economic impact to the region.

As editor and publisher of Art Fair SourceBook, Greg Lawler tracks a lot of art festivals across the country.

And he continually likes what he sees at Belleville’s Art on the Square, which receives help from more than 600 volunteers.

“They get the whole community involved through the volunteers, you know, right down to the cop on beat,” Lawler said. “Everybody is so positive and so interested in making it a success that it spreads a lot of really good energy into the artists’ community.”

Although the show is seven months away, the event planners are busy lining up sponsors and have produced a brochure with 10-points and other information highlighting reasons why businesses and organizations should sponsor the 15th annual show scheduled for May 13-15.

“We’re always looking for sponsors,” said Patty Gregory, executive director of Art on the Square.

Lawler’s publication ranks art shows nationally based on the volume of sales reported by the artists who participate in the show. In the latest ranking, which covered the 2014 shows, Art on the Square was ranked second in the country. Since 2007, it has either been ranked first or second in the country.

When you’re an exhibitor there, you feel like you’re very much appreciated.

Greg Lawler, editor and publisher of Art Fair SourceBook

That’s one of the attributes of Art on the Square that organizers tell potential sponsors. Others include:

Economic impact of $2.1 million. This is calculated based on the number of people who attended the show this year and the cost of producing the show. Also, this figure does not include the sales tax benefits from the more than $1 million in artwork sold last May.

Affordability. Art on the Square allows exhibitors to sell prints while many shows require artists to sell only originals. Gregory noted that about a quarter of the people who attend Art on the Square earn less than $50,000. “I think that’s really important because nobody wants to go to an art show and never be able to purchase anything,” Gregory said.

Outreach. Belleville has more than 50 pieces of artwork on display in public areas throughout the city. Gregory said this is “pretty unusual for a town our size.” Also, Art on the Square artists visit high school students. “We’ve been very, very fortunate with sponsors that are supporting our outreach programs in the schools and everything else we are doing as far as outreach,” Gregory said. “We’ve been lucky.”

Exhibitors sold more than $1 million worth of artwork in May. More than 600 volunteers assisted with annual show.

Lawler, a photographer based in Tennessee, has exhibited his work at Art on the Square four or five times and he assisted his wife last May with her exhibit.

“When you’re an exhibitor there, you feel like you’re very much appreciated,” Lawler said. “People are very verbal about expressing their thanks for you coming. You feel like an honored guest, which isn’t always the case at shows. A lot of shows treat you like a nuisance, like somebody you have to put up with. That’s not the case with Patty’s show.”

Save the date

  • What: Art on the Square in downtown Belleville
  • When: May 13-15
  • Details: or call 618-960-9597.

Art Fair SourceBook top five shows in sales in 2014

  • 1. La Quinta Arts Festival, La Quinta, Calif.
  • 2. Art on the Square, Belleville
  • 3. The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, The Woodlands, Texas
  • 4. Plaza Art Fair, Kansas City, Mo.
  • 5. St. Louis Art Fair in Clayton, Mo.

Note: Rankings for the 2015 shows will be released around Jan. 1.