Plein Air Festival is canceled because of low sales

slinn@thetribunenews.comSeptember 25, 2013 

Catherine Hill of Glendale works on an oil painting at Spooner’s Cove in Montaña de Oro State Park on Oct. 2, 2012, during The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art's Plein Air Festival. Artists have been enjoying the clear skies while painting landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes of San Luis Obispo County.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Slumping sales have forced the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art to cancel its Plein Air Festival this fall.

Considered one of the museum’s flagship events, the San Luis Obispo Plein Air Festival typically features a full week of events in late September or early October — including an art exhibition, lecture and Quick Draw competition — all focused on the art of painting outdoors in nature.

“It’s certainly had a wonderful run,” said Karen Kile, executive director of the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, noting that the festival draws artists and collectors from across the nation.

Unfortunately, strong attendance hasn’t translated into financial success, she said.

“You have to make money at an event that takes so much time and energy for our organization,” Kile said. “It really does come down to the bottom line — the amount of staff time that’s involved, the volunteers and the expense.”

Rather than risk another year of disappointing sales, the museum’s board of directors opted to take the year off, she said.

Board members have yet to decide whether the Plein Air Festival, which would have celebrated its 12th year this fall, will return in 2014.

However, Kile did confirm that the SLO Mini Maker Faire, which debuted in May, will return for a second year. That free, family-oriented event focused on do-it-yourself creativity and innovation.

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