In an otherwise dismal year of festival and arts-event cancellations comes the welcome news that there will be a Sunshine Coast Art Crawl this fall. But, as in all things 2020, it will be a bit different.
The Coast Cultural Alliance (CCA), which runs the Art Crawl, has announced it is presenting three options to artists/vendors who want to participate in the Oct. 23 to 25 event: They can run an online-only venue; they can arrange in-home or in-studio visits by appointment only; or they can be open to spontaneous drop-ins, in the way the event has traditionally operated.
The drop-in option has conditions, however. The venue can be a public place, like a studio, gallery or market, or it can be in a private home. But if it’s in a home, the display space must be separate from living quarters, with its own entrance, and vendors must adhere to whatever pandemic-related provincial health rules are then in effect. That almost certainly will mean, among other things, limiting the number of visitors at any one time.
Another major difference this year will be an increased online presence for all vendors no matter which option they choose, said CCA spokesperson Linda Williams. “Everybody’s going to be listed as they always have been on the Art Crawl website, with a member, and a venue listing. But we are going to enhance it this year. They will be able to embed a video of their studio or of themselves,” Williams said.
The videos are not mandatory, but all vendors will be required to make themselves available online for 30 to 60 minutes on each of the three days. The reason is, said Williams, that while many vendors might accept drop-ins, some visitors might prefer to play it safe during the pandemic, only meeting and doing business with artists online.
Williams acknowledged that the online and digital components will present a challenge for some vendors. “It’s going to be an education process; some people are not up to date,” she said. “We’re creating [instructional] videos to help vendors take better pictures of their work and to tell them how to do a video, even using their cell phone. You don’t need a professional to come in and do it.”
The enhanced Internet presence also raises the possibility of pitching the Art Crawl internationally, Williams noted. “We can start marketing virtually, far away, in Germany, or anywhere. We could market to the Sunshine Coast in Australia, so they could see what the Sunshine Coast here is doing.”
The Art Crawl is an upbeat and often lucrative annual event for hundreds of Coast artists who enjoy communing with art lovers and, of course, selling their art. (Sales in 2019 totalled more than $450,000.) Some creators who spoke to Coast Reporter are ready to roll with the changes.
“It is the new normal, and we’ve got to figure this out,” said Gibsons painter and Art Crawl veteran Christy Sverre about the changes for this year. “We might as well embrace the moment.”
Sverre has a ground-floor studio and gallery with a separate entrance at her Marine Drive home. She plans to allow drop-ins, both to view her art and to take in her painting demonstrations, which are a popular aspect of the event for many artists. “I love to demonstrate art and talk about it. I can do that at a safe distance, so I’m thrilled,” Sverre said.
Sechelt artist Jan Jensen has for years opened her Art Crawl venue right in her own living room, often sharing the space with other artists. Jensen said she will meet all the online requirements and still also operate a drop-in venue. But to comply with this year’s rules, she will do it solo and will move her display space into her attached garage. “I’m hopefully figuring out how to make some temporary walls there. That is my summer studio, anyway,” Jensen said.
The full list of criteria for vendors can be found on the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl and Coast Cultural Alliance websites.
Williams said the CCA knows there will be some confusion and apprehension about the adaptations the Art Crawl is making, but anything is better than cancelling. “It’s very exciting that it’s going to happen,” she said. “Everything is a moving target and we’re trying to level out the bumps in the process.”