The Margaret River Region Open Studios are an event that reins in $5 million each year through in economic impact.
It provides an opportunity for people who love art in all forms plan a visit to studios and hop into artists homes and different places they work at.
Featuring over 100 artists, they range from visual artists, to photographers, textiles, wood works and so much more.
Originally slated for Mid-May, the COVID-19 crisis put hold to this event but now with the easing of government restrictions the event is at last on, this time in September from the 12th thru 27th.
Paul Persic from the WA Daily sat down with the Chairman of this event, Jim Davies, to talk about how big the event gets each year, how they handled the COVID Crisis and what they intend to bring in when the festival opens in September.
PP- “Tell us Jim how long have you been chairman of the Margaret River Open Studios?”
JD- “This is my third year.
I was on the board for about six months before and took over from the previous Chairman Bill Castleton who was one of the founders of the event,
He was getting a bit older and wanted more time to himself and seeked someone with more marketing ability so here I was providing the marketing background for this event.”
PP- “Tell us about this event for people that are not familiar with this kind of art?”
JD- “Well this was postponed from our original date back in May.
Every year down in the Margaret River region, all the way from Augusta to Busselton and everywhere in between, a hundred artists open up their studios to the public and its a very interesting thing to come and do because artists studios are very interesting and quirky unusual places usually set in interesting venues”
PP- “What about the artists themselves, what sort of pieces can our readers who are visiting these art studios expect?”
JD- “We have all sorts of art – we dont just do visual art – we have sculptures, ceramics, photography, performance arts, mixed media and almost everything in between.
We even have a tattoo artist this year and we have a man who specialises in the Japanese art of Fish Printing which is Gyoto where he catches the fish and actually takes inprints from the fish and uses them as artworks, it’s a very fascinating thing.”
PP- “How many artists will there be for this year’s event?”
JD- “We are very pleased that we are running it from the 12th to the 27th of September this year and there are 103 artists so again a very big number”
PP- “Originally there was going to be 110 but a few decided not to engage?”
JD- “We had one person who is in hospital, one person who is getting married, another who is having a baby, another person who has moved so hasnt got a studio anymore, so small things that have nothing to reflect so we still have 103 of the 110 artists which is fantastic”
PP- “How hard was it though to reschedule this event because it has been a big staple for years, how did you negate through all the restrictions due to COVID-19?”
JD- “Thats a very good question. The biggest challenge was we kinda knew we had to cancel it four weeks out from the last event and then we just had to monitor the level of restrictions.
We tried to open when Level 2 restrictions eased but the state government said no its not appropriate, so we had to wait when level 3 restrictions came into place, so that was about three to four weeks ago and we were on the case with government and Tourism WA to make sure that we can comply with what was necessary.
But the way its looking now, come September its unlikely that any restrictions will be in place”
PP- “With level 5 restrictions hopefully eased by then, will we see any further talent?”
JD- “We get a smattering of visitors from interstate and overseas but obviously none of those this year. But the vast majority of our business come from either the Margaret region or from Perth”
PP- “Its still brilliant that over 100 local artists are going to be involved, and thats good for the local market isn’t it?”
JD- “Yes its fantastic for the local economy.
We drive about $5 Million worth of economic benefit to the region with each event we run and tourism and the shire and the city all welcome that and sponsor us to help that happen.
But we deliver a big benefit to the region and to the artists themselves because it’s an opportunity they have to earn in terms of sales and their customers.”
PP- “Which partnerships have you formed to provide support for this event?”
JD- “We are supported by Tourism WA.
It’s their first year of supporting us on a three year program being part of their regional events grants.
We are also supported by the shire of Margaret River & the City of Busselton and we are also supported by Jackson’s Drawing Supplies which is the principal suppliers of art materials at this part of the world and also by Yahava Coffee amongst others who have been promoting us on their drive-thrus.”
PP- “Has it taken you by surprise with the success in the first two years that you ran this event? Then you go to the third year and this crisis hits, are you surprised that its all come so quickly?”
JD- “Yeah look it was a challenge this year holding everyone together through this period.
Knocking any uncertainty that surrounded the event for the last few months was a bit of a challenge but the event has gone from strength to strength and the artists need the benefit of the event as does everybody associated with it, so everybody stayed together with me through this and its been a pleasure.”
PP- “Well we are looking forward to another amazing event and I’m certainly looking to pop in and it looks impressive.
Thanks for your time Jim Davies and all the best for another great event in September.”
JD- “Thank you Paul its been great.”
The 2020 Margaret River Region Open Studios takes place from September 12th-27th throughout the Cape To Cape Region here in WA and is absolutely free to enter for anybody wanting to experience the best in local art.