Organizers of the annual pilgrimage to creative hotspots along the Sunshine Coast have announced the final tally of destinations for this year’s Art Crawl.
The Coast Cultural Alliance this week released promotional materials for the popular free event, which will feature 169 studio and gallery destinations from Langdale to Earls Cove during the weekend of Oct. 21 to 23.
“It’s become part of the fabric of the community,” said Linda Williams, chair of the Coast Cultural Alliance. Williams has coordinated the Crawl since its inception in 2010, when 75 participating venues reported approximately $30,000 in sales.
Last year, despite COVID-19 restrictions and a reduced number of venues, a record $528,000 was earned by participating artists, plus $80,000 in proceeds for commissions and workshop registrations.
The highest engagement occurred in 2019, when 185 venues welcomed almost 50,000 individual studio guests during the three-day event. The following year, due to the pandemic, visits and revenues dropped by more than half.
Each year, participating artists pay a registration fee to the Alliance, which is ineligible for government grant funding due to its longstanding policy of fairly compensating artists who lead Alliance programming.
“[The registered venues] get all the signage, all these brochures, all those arrows on roadsigns,” said Williams. “This year, the fee was $145, and I have to say that last we year we had somebody who made over $25,000 in three days.”
The 169 venues this year represent approximately 30 locations new to the Art Crawl. Another 20 have returned after taking a few years off, according to Williams. Some artists prefer to take a fallow year so they can participate in the Crawl themselves as visitors and patrons.
The Alliance website and a widely-distributed brochure identify sites that are reachable by visitors with mobility challenges, offer washroom facilities, or are also members of the Purple Banner Tour, which flags studios that welcome guests year-round.
In a visitor survey last year, 90 per cent of guests reported that the Crawl was “easy/safe to attend... being able to chat with the artists: priceless,” according to an internal report prepared by event organizers.
The 2021 Crawl attracted visitors from scores of communities in B.C. and elsewhere, including guests from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany.
In addition to encouraging drop-in visits that often include live demonstrations of artistic disciplines, some venues are organizing drop-in receptions on Oct. 24 that will feature live music and refreshments. A dozen parties have already been announced, with more to be added to the Coast Cultural Alliance’s website.
This year’s Art Crawl takes place amid uncertainty about the potential impact of a bylaw proposed by the Sunshine Coast Regional District. The new Zoning Bylaw 722 would limit unscheduled visitors to home-based studios to six per day.
During a public hearing on Sept. 6, SCRD officials noted that if the bylaw is passed, regional district staff would suspend its enforcement during events like the Art Crawl.
“But it’s hard to consciously be part of something that’s illegal, whether you’re going to turn a blind eye or not, or say that you’re not going to enforce it,” commented Williams.
A full listing of Art Crawl venues is available at coastculture.com.