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Participants - frequently asked questions
. . . and their answer
1. Who can take part in Amata fairs and markets?
Anyone - Spanish or foreign, resident or non-resident - who makes his / her material using his / her own labour plus that of an assistant / compañero / member of the family, whose work is of reasonable quality and who is prepared to further the general aims of Amata in a supportive and friendly manner.
2. What papers are necessary?
Spanish law insists that you have all requisite papers if you wish to engage in any economic activity. However, Amata is not interested in papers as such in general and in particular does not regard a "tarjeta de artesanía" as proof of competence. The quality is in the work and not in the paper.
4. Can we sell material made by hand by people in other countries?
Amata understands perfectly that poor people in Third World countries need all the help they can get, but Amata is an organisation to promote artesanía in Spain. Amata does not permit any re-sale at all, whether the material is made by friends or family of the person on the stall or is sold to help poor people abroad.
8. How do I start?
The first step is to make sure that you send us photographs of your material, preferably close ups so that Amata can check the quality. If you sell several different types of material (see question 5) make sure the photographs include ALL of them. Also photographs of the stand and (for medieval fairs) of the artesan in medieval dress. Send a copy of these (by post or by e-mail) to Amata together with an address and a telephone number. Amata wants to raise standards and does not admit stands to events unless quality has been first checked.
You will be contacted within a week or so to confirm that Amata has received your submission. If Amata approves of the quality, you will be invited to participate in future events - but see question 9 below.
3. Must it all be made by hand?
Material must be made by hand by the artesano him / herself with possibly the help of one assistant / associate / family member. Minor and subsidiary components may be bought ready made but must not form the major part of the finished article.
Amata reserves the right to inspect the workshop and tools of the artesano and watch material / articles being made. Photographs of the artesano in the workshop at work are not necessarily proof that everything at the stall is made by hand by the artesan him- or herself.
5. What sort of quality is Amata looking for?
Amata prefers articles made by hand to a standard and not to a price. Amata prefers unique pieces rather than a series of copies of one or two designs. Obviously, the people taking part in the markets and fairs have to live, so it is quite all right to mix high quality articles that are difficult to sell with other articles that are easier to sell but not of such high quality - as long as the latter do not take up most of the stall.
6. What about selling food?
Amata organises both medieval markets and craft fairs. In the craft fairs no food may be sold at all, although at times a local organis-
ation (e.g. festeros) are allowed to set up a bar with terrace. In the medieval markets Amata admits a number of stalls with food such as dried fruit, cheese, sausages, beer, bread made or processed by the people on the stall plus other stalls selling food for consumption such as pancakes, bbq, cyder, beer, tea. In the market there will be only one food stall of each type.
7. Is there room for me?
Amata organises fairs with between 20 and 80 stalls, depending on the size of the catchment area of the public likely to visit the event - the bigger the town, the more stalls. By and large, Amata prefers there to be many different types of stalls and only a few stalls of each type - this ensures that the public has plenty to look at and that each stallholder earns a reasonable amount. Thus it can occur that although not all the spaces are filled, there are already too many stalls of one particular type, in which case Amata may decline to accept yet another stall with the same product or material for this particular event.
9. Can I take part in any and all events?
No. Sorry about that, but there are far more people who want to take part than we have spaces. Amata looks at the place where the market is being held and invites people who live not too far away (especially if sales are probably not going to be spectacular), people who have not taken part in a market in that particular place recently and people whose material is different or distinctly better than the average.
11. I wanted to come but something happened
If something happens - an accident, illness, snow or floods, car break-
down - that prevents you from coming, let Amata know as early as possible. There usually is a waiting list and other people are perfectly willing to take your place. Obviously, if this happens too often, Amata might prefer to choose other people to take part in any given event. Staying away without letting us know (not before the fair, nor after), will land you on our "black list".
13. Parking your car / van
Amata will try to get the Town Hall to arrange parking nearby. This is not always possible, so participants of the event will have to find their own park-
ing solution. Amata will ask you the car / van registration number so that if the police objects to how or where you have parked your car, you can be contacted. On the dashboard leave the Amata parking voucher together with a phone number - this does not permit you to park at will, but helps avoid fines.
14. Eating and sleeping at the feria or market
Amata will usually arrange a main meal at about 2 o'clock - for example a paella plus a salad plus a glass of wine - for an economic price such as € 4. Around 11 in the morning someone will go from stall to stall to sell the tickets, in case you want to eat with Amata - there is no compulsion, it's just a friendly service. Sometimes the Town Hall provides a sleeping space and even showers, but don't count on it. Amata will, if asked, try to find an economic hostal in advance, but often the most economic hostals cannot be found, let alone booked, by telephone.
Amata has a general insurance against accidents involving the public during the fair or market. This insurance does not cover incidents involving the sale of food, whether for immediate or for later consumption, for which each stall will need and individual insurance and the proper papers to validate the insurance.
17. How will I find the market?
Amata hangs green boards with a white arrow - marked "Feria de Artesania" or "Mercado / Mercat Medieval" - on the streets leading to the Market or Feria. These arrows are designed to direct the public coming from nearby towns to the event, and they also make it easy for the artesans to find out where to go
18. Security and safety
Nearly all events last two or three days. The Town Hall usually instructs the local police to patrol the market but the two or three police (wo)men cannot keep an eye on all stalls all the time. Amata has tried hiring security guards (vigilantes) and the same objection arises. For this reason Amata nearly always arranges for a secure storage area in which goods can be kept at night, leaving the local police to keep an eye on the bare stalls.
20. Working next to the stall during the market
Amata feels that it is very important that participants in a market can be seen at work by the passing public. For this reason, Amata never charges stall money for the space taken by tables at which artesans work.
Reasons for this are:
a. the public can see how much time is taken up in making things by hand,
so that the public appreciates why hand-made goods are more expensive than factory goods
b. everybody - public and other artesans - can see that the goods on the stall are made by hand by the artesan at the stall
c. hand craft is an interesting activity to watch - making for a good reason to come to the market
12. When do I turn up and how do I set up?
At least one of the organizers of Amata will be at the market 2 to 3 hours before the event opens officially. Amata always makes a plan of the whole market with a defined space for each participant. Where possible and where known, particular places are allocated to people with particular requirements - next to a friend, easy to get to for an invalid, horizontal for certain types of materials. This space is reserved till 1 hour before the official opening, unless Amata has been informed of some hindrance. opening. When you arrive, park your van in such a way that other vans can get past yours - it is not a case of first come, first served. Find the organiser and you will be told where to stand and how to get there.
Once you know where your stand will be, park your van in such a way - if at all possible - that other people can get past. In any event, first unload all parts of your stand and all material, then put your van / car away and then return to finish setting up your stand. This way makes it easier for everyone. Please, do not go for a coffee - just a few minutes - while your van blocks the street for everyone else.
10. How are participants selected?
Amata will send something like 150 invitations for an event with room for 50 or 60 stalls. Not everybody wants to or is able to take part, but if you feel you would like to do so, you must fill in the form that comes with the invitation and send it to Amata. This does not necessarily mean that you can take part in the event - there may be other people with similar material and Amata prefers to have events with diversity.
If there is room, you will be contacted (by SMS or by phone call) on or after the date indicated on the invitation. If you are not contacted, please phone to make sure that Amata has received your application. If you are not chosen this time, you stand a better chance next time.
If you are invited and your place is confirmed, you can be sure of a space. There is no need to pay in advance - payment of stall money is made during the market, usually on the last day. If for some reason you can not come to the fair, please let us know as soon as possible - see answer 11.
15. Cracking the whip - penalties and sanctions
Amata does its best to create a relaxed and happy feeling at its markets and fairs. Occasionally people create problems or act in a manner which disrupts this atmosphere. The only sanction that Amata can apply is simply not invite the person involved to future fairs.
Amata prefers that people do not:
a. put reventa on their stall, although this usually can be solved by simply removing the offending material
b. argue excessively with their neighbours or with the Amata team on the space they are allocated
c. wear street clothes, street shoes, wrist watches or use mobile phones at medieval markets
d. turn up too late to build up their stall ready for the first opening time,or turn up too late for other opening times
e. openly and / or excessively take drugs or drink alcohol during opening hours
16. How much does it cost?
Amata is interested in promoting artesania in Spain. As a rule, the higher the quality of the artesania, the less is earned; it is in the interest of quality that Amata tries to keep costs as low as possible.
In most fairs Amata charges the artesans a little to add to the money paid by the Town Hall. What Amata charges the Town Hall is all spent on the event; what we charge the artesans is used to cover our
overheads (telephone, computers, office space, vans, materials and attributes). How much we charge depends on the size of the market and the likely sales - sometimes it's even free! On our letters of invitation we always clearly state our charges - to be paid near the end of the event. (Sometimes a Town Hall wants the fair to be free to the people taking part and pays us a bit more for organising.)