Acore group of exhibitors and organisers came together at an impromptu gathering on Monday to toast what several were describing as the best Raglan Arts Weekend ever – one helped along by a strong social media profile this time around.
Acrylic painter Lois Brooks, who was among those having a celebratory drink at Ken and Maureen Soanes’ “Blue Gables” B & B high on Government Road, told the Chronicle she had 85, 70 and 40 visitors to her nearby studio over the three days of Auckland Anniversary Weekend.
Meanwhile painter/designer Jane Galloway, who also came along to celebrate, said Palm Prints studio in Raglan West – which exhibits work by herself, Stuart MacKenzie and Julian Godfery – attracted 450 visitors all up.
Jane said having eftpos facilities on-site definitely contributed to “great sales”, describing the weekend event as certainly worthwhile financially for the trio. People spent twice as much as last time, she reckons, when 350 visited their studio.
Jane and her photographer partner Stuart said they’d spent hundreds of hours work on meetings and advertising leading up to this year’s event, and that didn’t count all the time spent getting their own exhibits ready for display.
But it more than paid off, especially the time Stuart put into organising artist profiles and pictures on Facebook for this year’s event.
That allowed people to plan their own arts weekend, explained Jane. The site was active, she said, with the number of “likes” spiralling as the weekend approached.
Raglan Community Arts Council chair Rodger Gallagher – who made the successful grant application through Waikato District Council’s Creative Communities scheme for the bulk of funding to run the $5000 event – agreed with Jane that a social media profile was the way to go to keep promotional costs down.
“We’ve got something [a successful formula] we can repeat now,” he said.
While this was the fifth such event to be run Rodger admitted the previous two arts weekends, while successful, had not been sustainable financially. But this year’s event had not only made the exhibitors happy – with lots of art being sold – but had also run “at a fairly low cost basis compared to the past”.
That was achieved by keeping the brochure format simple and having just two local sponsors – Tony Sly Pottery and Kopua Holiday Park. The 30-odd artists involved were also asked for $100 to participate, which was double the fee of previous years.
Rodger was delighted too at the “very successful” Friday night opening function at the Old School in Stewart Street, which attracted 100 or so artists and supporters because it was open to the public for the first time.
It was probably one of the biggest opening nights the Old School has seen as an arts centre, he said.
Old School arts facilitator Jacqueline Anderson, who was busy most of the weekend with stallholders at the complementary market run out the back of the building, was grateful the weather was “kind” for the event.
“Truckloads of people all day kept coming through [the Old School],” she enthused, and there was hardly a brochure to be found – out of the 5000 printed – by the end of the weekend.
Six artists exhibited inside the Old School during the weekend, while others worked and sold from the community Clay Shed behind.
Clay artist Susanne Prinz told those at Monday afternoon’s gathering that even a motorcycle club from Taranaki came to the event. “They couldn’t take any pottery home but I sold them some raffle tickets!” she revealed.
Photographer Richard Gemmell was a new exhibitor this year, selling six of his “eight or nine” works of art on show at the Old School. He reckoned the positive feedback from the buying public had boosted his confidence and was already talking on Monday about returning next year.
Miranda Caird, an old hand at Raglan Arts Weekends, had something to suit every pocket at her small Whale Bay home studio. Besides offering prints and originals she went all out with “merchandising” – displaying her artwork on everything from postcards and fridge magnets to cushion covers and cellphone cases.
Rodger singled out her marketing approach for special mention, saying it allowed her work to “appeal to all ends of the market”.
There was also praise – from Jacqueline Anderson – for the effort put in by carver Aaron Kereopa, who turns the foam ‘blanks’ or inners of surfboards into works of art at his far-flung Te Mata studio.
“He started with his rubbishy old surfboards and took them [arts weekend visitors who made it out to Te Mata] through the whole process using two Stanley knives bought from The Warehouse,” she said.
Panel and paint artist Chris Meek told the Chronicle it was unbelievable the “tons of people” through his gallery in Cross Street. “It was a huge success.”