I've been a member of The Greater Ithaca Art Trail for many years, and have found our Open Studio weekends in October to be worth my time and effort. Visitors come from all over New York state, as well as from Pennsylvania, a smattering of other states, and even Canada.
It is usually the visitors from out of town who buy original paintings from me. Local visitors are more likely to purchase lower-cost items like cards or drawings. Often, they just come to look. Some are students who come to learn, and that's fine. Some are artists who want to see what others are doing in their studios. That's fine, too.
But the main reason we pay for art trail membership, prepare our studios, and spend two full weekends hosting visitors, is to sell art. If we don't sell enough art on those weekends, we can't afford to open our studios.
With the tough economy of the last few years, sales of art has suffered. A painting, print or piece of sculpture is not a necessity for most people.
Several of our artists have had to cancel their membership in the Art Trail because it was simply unprofitable. Perhaps if the economy picks up and art sales increase, they might rejoin. Otherwise, I think our membership will continue to decline.
My art studio.