The numbers are in for the Sunshine Coast’s 2022 Art Crawl, and organizers are calling this year’s colourful cultural pilgrimage an unqualified success.
The annual tradition began in 2010 as an initiative of the Coast Cultural Alliance.
COVID-19 guidelines were loosened for the 2022 Art Crawl, which took place from Oct. 21 to 23. Participation rates and earnings have returned to levels on par with pre-pandemic returns. In 2020, at the outset of COVID restrictions, the number of exhibitors fell by almost half.
Studio and gallery participation this year included a total of 169 venues, representing more than 270 individual artists from Earls Cove to Langdale. Forty-seven new venue listings were added to the published itinerary made available online and as a fold-out map.
Despite high gasoline prices and ferry disruptions, visitation statistics and sales remained strong.
The Coast Cultural Alliance recorded 38,800 venue visits, an average of 230 visitors per venue.
Sales reports topped $501,000, plus $40,000 in commissions. Combined with 2021 proceeds, a total of $1,030,000 was earned by artists over two years through their participation in the event.
A post-Crawl survey invited participants to share impressions. “This year’s Crawl was amazing,” recorded an exhibitor. “People were really engaged — including the kids. So many wonderful comments and lots of excitement.”
From an analysis of 340 responses, organizers estimated that a full quarter of all visitors reached more than 16 venues.
Two-thirds of patrons made a purchase. 37 per cent were first-time Art Crawlers.
“Visiting the Art Crawl from Vancouver Island was a treat in itself,” exclaimed one Crawler. “[It was] so well-organized! The highlight involved personally meeting the artist of a piece of work I had inherited.”
According to Linda Williams, chair of the Coast Cultural Alliance, the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions allowed the extension of marketing to Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and beyond. 9,000 brochures were printed and distributed.
Brochures were racked on BC Ferries for three weeks preceding the event weekend and distributed by BC Ferries Travel Ambassadors on the Friday and Saturday mornings of the Crawl.
Artists reported off-Coast visitors travelling specifically to attend the Art Crawl. Participants traveled from over 120 distinct communities, including Czechia, Australia and Panama.
Names were drawn for a donated two-night Sunshine Coast vacation, with spa passes, at the Painted Boat Resort. Three BC Ferries Experience Card prizes were provided by the Coast Cultural Alliance.
“My highlight every year is to learn from the artists [about] what their journey has been and what inspires their work,” wrote a repeat Art Crawler. “This year there was so much positive energy!”
Next year’s Art Crawl is scheduled to take place from Oct. 20 to 22, 2023.