Hey! I make big prints on canvas because it's the only sane way to make really big prints! No glass, just for starters! That's exactly the reason oil painters use canvas, although many of them would actually prefer to be using board. And the only way I could TRULY distinguish my photography as a unique art form is if I was making Daguerreotypes which is just too boring.
Is the canvas thing a disease of the Northwest? We sure don't have it here in the Southwest, as far as I know.
The best shows around here are organized by commercial producers with a profit motive. They are extremely good organizers and promoters. Attendance is great. They have certain standards such as no imported art, no manufactured art, etc. The most important standard is that the artist must be present in the booth for the entire show, with only the type of work they submitted for judging. Photos-on-canvas with the artist attendant in the booth is no problem at all.
The organizers make most of their money on admission by public attendees, and they want those guys to come back next year. The best way to do that is to provide a wide range of art that is of high quality, where at least some of it is affordable to the average attendee. And no schlock, that's important too. The oil painters hold down the high ground, we canvas photographers hold the middle ground. I have very nice looking work priced within reach of the middle class, and I usually get pre-accepted invitations and prominent booth locations from the important shows around here for just that reason. Moderately priced, quality art encourages attendance. The more the attendees, the more the organizers make, the more everybody will sell, and the more exposure even the finest of the fine artists will get.
The majority of the public has no acceptance problems at all with photos on canvas versus oils on canvas, they just buy the image that moves them the most. Or the art that best color coordinates with the sofa.
And interestingly, the only complaints I ever get directly are from other photographers, not from painters! Too bad guys, you're priced too high. You gotta stop farming out that printing and framing, and you need to start doing sofa-sized!