2017 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival highlights

Our 2017 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival has, once again, maintained a solid program of new, exciting and assorted experiences.

Attendance figures were estimated to be in the vicinity of 2000 with strong ticket sales and a number of sold out events.

Community spirit stood tall, welcoming many visitors and artists from across the region and interstate. Our audience demographics continue to widen confirming that we can be very confident in our stance that ‘there is something for everyone’.

2017 saw support and sponsorship from philanthropic organisations, local government, businesses, Friends of the Festival and schools.

CoOpera’s ‘Eugene Onegin’, Musical Shenanigans Part 6, the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize, Literary components and another bumper Family Programme attracted crowds who left with an awe of satisfaction.

A large crowd attended the opening night to see Penny Dowie receive $10,000 from The Balnaves Foundation as the winner of The John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize with her entry ‘The Young Widow’. This year’s Art Prize attracted 55 entries with our acclaimed judge, Rebecca Evans from the Art Gallery of South Australia, stating “the drawing has fluidity and movement and this generates feelings of transience that this moment, her wedding won’t last, especially as we knew her story through John Shaw Neilson’s poem”. The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival remains grateful to The Balnaves Foundation who continues to support the Arts Festival and this unique award.

“One of South Australia’s leading arts festivals” – Mrs. Helen Rice, Adelaide United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Chairperson. The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival were honoured by the United Nations at Government House, 10 August 2015

“People’s enthusiasm for their town and this wonderful festival were instantly apparent and completely infectious” Lucy Treloar Author ‘Salt Creek’

The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival is the largest arts event in the region and continued its reputation for organising a festival that truly has ‘something for everyone’.  The Art Festival promotes amazing diversity, art mediums, venue variety, progressive audiences and a good ‘dose’ of celebration.

The bumper programme expanded to 44 pages with new category titles ‘Let’s perform….’, ‘Let’s compete….’, ‘Let’s create and experience…..’, ‘Let’s taste…’, ‘Let’s look & feel…’, ‘Let’s read & write…’, & ‘Let’s be childlike…’

Alongside The Balnaves Foundation John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize exhibition, other exhibition highlights included ‘Back to the Starting Point’ at Local Images Gallery, ‘The Life of Others’ at Blok Estate, ‘Locals at Chardonnay’ at Chardonnay Lodge, ‘Dream Catcher’ at Penley Estate and ‘All On Board’ at Balnaves of Coonawarra.

Music of all genres resonated throughout the town – opera, ukuleles, folk, country, psychedelic, big band, pipe bands and the final performance of the Southern Heritage Singers. Special performances by Archer, Tex Perkins, Kelly Menhennett and the deep, deep voice of the hugely popular Mick Coates Band continue to ensure that music lovers are spoilt for choice.

The events on offer to ‘create and experience’ were incredibly popular with many workshops sold out.  Flower arranging, song writing, painting, tie dying, master cooking classes, creative writing, drawing, printmaking, tea blending and some amazing dining experiences.  ‘Let’s be childlike…’ catered for our very special young festival goers with paper cranes, spoken word, open mic, hip hop, skate art, face painting, cupcake decorating and the hugely popular dinosaur romps.   As part of our family friendly events, we welcomed the amazing talent of Manal Younus and Bunk Puppets returned with their acclaimed performance ‘Slapdash Galaxy’.

The Literary program bounced back into the spotlight with the very talented and enormously popular Lucy Treloar delighting attendees at the Literary Bruch as she discussed her novel ‘Salt Creek’.  Katie Spain, our writer in residence, collected local stories and the community added their inspirational and varied responses to the giant blackboard in the town square.

The 2017 Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival public relations strategy took a large leap into the world of social media, increasing our footprint considerably.  Advertising and strategic direct emails were able to target untold numbers of supporters and new people interested in the Arts Festival. The subscriber base now exceeds 800 which include key stakeholders such as the Friends of the Festival, sponsors, businesses, festival event holders and past participants.

ABC radio and our local newspapers were again great supporters of the Arts Festival showcasing editorials and interviews of the highlighted events in the weeks leading up to the festival.

Facebook ‘likes’ increased from 741 to 927 from the previous year.  Facebook advertising was beneficial in creating more brand exposure/awareness and directing people to our website. Our most successful posts generating nearly 2000 ‘post clicks’ combined were the announcement of the John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Prize and the Design Prize in addition to this we had 17 posts generating a ‘reach’ of over 1000.

The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival committee maintained its user-friendly website and online ticket sales initiatives.

Over 2,761 people viewed our website over the Festival period from 29 April to 29 May, and over 42.2% of people were returning visitors. 75.22% of the visitors were female, and the largest age group were 45-54 year olds (24.51%) followed by 55-64 year olds (23.53%), and 35-44 (21.57%).

67.47% of viewers were from South Australia, 18.67% from Victoria and 7.23% from New South Wales.

The online programme had 869 reads, and 1.3k impressions.

The Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival remains financially sustainable to invest in the next festival scheduled for 17-20 May, 2018.

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