The International Quilt Association, the non-profit organization that hosts the annual World of Beauty quilt show at International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas each November, announced today that it will be closing down. The announcement was made in a letter sent to its members and sponsors, and signed by the president of the organization’s Board of Directors, acclaimed quilter Ricky Tims, along with the organization’s founders Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes. It explained that years of declining membership along with the impact of COVID-19 led to the decision.
International Quit Festival is the largest quilt festival in the US. World of Beauty is the judged competition that takes place at the show.
“Membership renewals are down, we have had no Judged Show, no raffle quilt income to date, no events at the fall show such as Winners Circle, Quiltapalooza, the mini-quilt Silent Auction, or the IQA luncheon, and no election of new officers. In addition, for many years, IQA has seen a decrease in total membership numbers,” the statement read.
“IQA has for years depended upon Quilts, Inc. to cover such expenses as rent, salary, and other operating costs. But because the company could not hold any shows in 2020, resulting in the loss of an entire year’s income, it is unable to offer further support to the organization. Taken all together, these things mean basically no income for our organization.”
The World of Beauty show was highly prestigious with three jurors and three different judges each year. In order to enter a quilt in the show, quilters were required to become members of the non-profit. Annual dues were $25. Accepted quilts were judged in person, not from photos.
There were eight large prizes offered each year including Best in Show ($12,500), the Founder’s Award and the World of Beauty Award ($7,500 each) and Contemporary Artistry, Machine Artistry, Innovative Artistry, and Thread Artistry ($5000 apiece). Quilts entered into the show could be for sale, and 20% of the proceeds of any sale were donated back to IQA.
In addition to World of Beauty, International Quilt Festival has several special exhibits. These exhibits are hosted by Quilts, Inc. a for-profit organization that is not part of IQA and will not be shutting down.
In today’s announcement, Tims mentioned that there will be a new, judged quilt competition at future shows. “Many of you may wonder if this means there will be no Judged Show at International Quilt Festival, but we have received a commitment from organizers of Festival to add a quilt competition,” the statement said. “So, although details remain to be worked out, ‘the show will go on.'”
Art quilter and national teacher Lyric Kinard, who has taught at International Quilt Festival for two decades, reacted to the news this way: “I don’t believe much will change other than that they will no longer have to answer to board members when making decisions about the largest quilt show in the world. They will still run the conventions with hundreds of vendors, classes, and quilts on display. It will still be the place for quilters to come together from around the world.”