The best ideas can seem so obvious in retrospect, like this: We live in one of the most intensely artistic regions in B.C., but in an outlying community, so why doesn’t someone organize tours of our local artists’ studios and galleries for the tourist trade? Well, someone has.
Wilson Creek artist, musician and entrepreneur Douglas Bevans has just launched Sunshine Coast Art Tours, featuring a swanky, brightly branded 15-seat van, and a business plan made feasible by his many years’ experience in the tourism business.
“In essence, it’s a very leisurely day trip,” Bevans told Coast Reporter. “We do four or five behind-the-scenes-visits to artists’ studios. Lunch is included, plus a few beverage stops and maybe some stops at touristy spots like Gibsons Landing and Davis Bay.”
Not surprisingly, artists like the idea. “I’ve been going to their homes and studios, introducing myself and talking about the service,” Bevans said. “There’s been overwhelmingly positive feedback. People have told me this is exactly what we need on the Coast.”
Bevans knows how to show tourists a good time. He has owned and operated Nomad Travel in Vancouver for 16 years, specializing in educational tours, and moved to the Coast in 2018. Now he’s ready to pick up art-curious, walk-on passengers from the Langdale ferry terminal for a pre-arranged and curated seven-hour tour.
“We’ll probably do four studio visits and one gallery,” he said. “The idea is to rotate through artists so it’s not always the same each time, to make it work for the community.” Whether or not the tourists buy, Bevans said he will pay the artists a small stipend to make the visits worth their time.
Bevans knows business from the artists’ side as well. He put together a wry, social-commentary arts project in Vancouver last year called Hot Dog Water, which got worldwide media coverage. (You can Google it for details.) And in 2011, he dreamed up and supervised the creation of a five-storey wooden Trojan horse, which was a feature of that year’s Burning Man Festival in Nevada. If that’s not sufficient arts cred, he also was the guitarist for the popular Vancouver punk rock band, The Smalls.
Bevans said he is planning an all-in, per-person cost of $165 for the day trip, not an outrageous price for relatively well-heeled art aficionados from the Lower Mainland. A one-day Whistler lift ticket plus lunch, parking, travel and time is in the same price range. Bevans added that he’s currently offering a 50-per-cent discount while he’s launching the business, which sounds like another good idea.
Bevans can be contacted at sunhinecoastarttours.com