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River of Art Festival reaches out to record audiences

The 2017 River of Art Festival has set a new record with attendance numbers up by 11% on the previous year, attracting more than 21,000 people to arts events along the South Coast.

Of those, 48% were visitors – mostly coming from Canberra, regional NSW and Sydney.

Better still, guests appear to be staying even longer – on average 4.5 nights per person according to the survey information collected at the festival.

Above: The River of Art Committee and Djaadjawan

Outgoing Festival Chair Sue Barford said ‘We’ve had fantastic feedback from our local community and visitors alike.

‘Businesses, cafes and artists have told us that they enjoyed vastly more interest this year.

‘Extensive promotion has helped River of Art achieve growing recognition as a premier arts destination brand.

‘Of course, more visitors translate into more spending right across the region. The data we’ve analysed suggests that the 2017 festival brought $5 million into the local economy.

‘We also thank all our sponsors, partners and volunteers. Their support was vital to our success’, said Sue.

The hard-working volunteer committee attributes record audiences to the festival’s diverse program, with music, visual arts, theatre, busking and film reaching out to eclectic interests.

Looking to the future, a new organising committee has been established to start work on planning the 2018 festival.

Incoming Chair, Robin Scott-Charlton brings long-time festival experience to the role, along with her arts practice as a singer and performer.

Robin says ‘The challenge ahead is to build a festival that becomes truly self-sustaining.

‘For that to happen, we need to attract diversified financial support beyond the generous funding we will receive from Destination NSW up until 2019.

‘We are also calling out for enthusiastic volunteers to join us and shape the future of this exciting festival, which is now well established as a signature event on the South Coast tourism calendar.

‘Anyone interested in being involved is welcome to contact us via our email address or through our Facebook site.

‘We’re especially keen to find talented supporters who can contribute marketing and social media savvy to promote the festival’s attractions.’

Robin Scott-Charlton and Sue Barford met with the Eurobodalla Shire Council this week to discuss ideas for 2018. Council have affirmed their continued support.

Robin says ‘This year’s record results give us confidence that we can attract the backing needed to build on River of Art’s success and drive its economic impact even further.’

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