A Recession, Change of Venue, and the End of Cody High Style

On the heels of the ’07 show, Cody High Style was set to be the premier destination for western design and fashion. However, couture fashion and finely crafted studio furniture would take a back seat to national economic circumstances. The recession that began on a similar timeline as Cody High Style would plague the attendance numbers of both exhibitors and prospective clients. This overall decline in numbers and a perceived shortage of gallery space was enough for the museum to let its sponsorship lapse in 2011.

Recognizing the importance of the show, the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce made the decision to underwrite the show on a three-year commitment. The show was held at the museum in 2012, and then moved back to the Cody Auditorium in 2013.

Unfortunately, to many participants the move back to the auditorium was a serious letdown, particularly for those who had only been active in the Cody High Style shows at the museum. According to Anne Beard, “We got spoiled by being at the museum.”  The lighting at the museum was so much better than at the auditorium, but even more so was the gravitas of the museum itself. To be able to say that your piece was on display at one of the finest western museums in the world was very significant to many craftsmen.

Several artisans did not follow the show back to the auditorium in ’13 and fewer still in’14. Though Osiecki made a valiant effort, the show had lost much of its luster after the move. The writing may have been on the wall, but this further hurt the show and may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

One point that should not be understated for the Western Design Conference and for Cody High Style is that in planning events during the same week as the art show and Patron’s Ball, they, along with the events at the museum, made it very difficult to quantify the financial benefits to the community for each event separately. With the “three-legged stool” of the Rendezvous Royale all working together everyone benefits, but if one falters, as was the case with Cody High Style, the decision to save it became hard to justify for the Chamber. As a consequence, after the 2014 show, the Chamber announced it would not financially support the show in 2015.

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