Sales jump with 16th annual studio tour

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Sounder News

Monday, October 15 2012

The number of visitors to the Thanksgiving Studio Tour were down slightly this year, but spending was up.
Gabriola Arts Council president Kathy Ramsey said the feedback coming in is positive with artists working in different media reporting more sales and enthusiastic visitors.
The sunny weather may have had something to do with the upbeat attitudes, and while the overall number of visitors was down, first-time visitors were higher. GAC did more advertising this year in newspapers on Vancouver Island and online, which may have contributed to the newcomers.

Star Bredt played at Folklife and the Nanaimo-side ferry lineup. Submitted photo
The musician buskers – new to the tour this year – proved to be a hit. The arts council hired 15 musicians who performed at Madrona Marketplace, Robert’s Place, the Village, the ferry lineup and the Nanaimo Harbour terminal.
“That went over really well,” said Kathy, especially while people were waiting for the ferry in Nanaimo.
“The big impression was, ‘You’ve come to the right party’.
“That will be a really big focus next year is making the gateway to Gabriola a happening event.”
GAC will be meeting with the City of Nanaimo to develop a permanent year-round presence for performers or artisans possibly at the ferry terminal or at Port Place mall.
For next year, GAC is looking in to mitigating ferry costs for visitors by implementing a shuttle service enabling people to walk on the ferry.
“We want to really work on some way to get people around without relying on cars,” said Kathy, “and we’re possibly partnering up with Sustainable Gabriola to be people-movers.
“It saves people money on the ferry and it’s also a greener footprint.”
The arts council is holding the Gabriola Bandstand sock hop featuring Rock Through the Ages at the Surf Lodge as a wrap-up party and fundraiser for next year’s tour on Oct. 20. Tickets are available at Artworks.
GAC released their 2011-12 annual report at their AGM in September. Last year the arts council contributed more than $90,000 to the Gabriola community including to artists and performers through the various festivals; graphic designers, art therapists and GAC administration; and local businesses through purchase and rental of supplies, printing and advertising.