Summary of the 2023 Southern Art & Craft Trail

The 20th Anniversary 2023 Southern Art & Craft Trail (SACT) showcased 600 artist’s works in 74 venues across the greater southern region during the September/October school holidays (23rd  September – 8th Oct 2022). This year the geographical coverage encompassed Shire of Manjimup, Denmark, Albany, Plantagenet, Kojonup, Dumbleyung, Gnowangerup and Lake Grace.

This annual arts event is the largest in the region and has now been running for 20 years. Galleries, museums, wineries, cafes, shops, town halls and unused public spaces have become venues offering both a unique cultural experience and economic spin off for local businesses.

Official Opening

The official opening was held at the Albany Town Hall on Saturday 16th September. An invitation only event, attendees included Jane Kelsbie MLA , City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington,  City of Albany Executive Director Nathan Watson and Lester Coyne who provided a Welcome to Country. ArtSouthWA was represented by Chairperson Merry Robertson and the Board members and over 80 ArtSouthWA members and artists. A series of prestigious awards were presented to people who have  had an outstanding contribution to this event over the past 20 years including the following:

  1. Torbay Glass Studio – Mark Hewson for participating in all 20 years of the Art Trail
  2. Brian Davis for participating in 19 years of the Art Trail
  3. June Smith for participating in 18 years of the Art Trail
  4. The City of Albany for the longest continual sponsor
  5. Annette Grant for the longest serving Chairperson and Coordinator

Benefits to the Region

According to recorded data over 11 626 people visited the SACT exhibitions, workshops and events. This doesn’t include the passer-by traffic at public venues and businesses who may not have been recorded by Exhibition venues. 52% of visitation came from outside the Albany area with many staying for a week in the region in paid accommodation and having meals out in local restaurants. It is noted that people appeared to spend less on accommodation this year. This is a mixture of shorter stays and staying in cheaper accommodation. Even so, this is an increase of 1% or an extra 100 people on the previous year. Considering increased interest rates, food and fuel costs, we feel this is a great result. We estimate the SACT contributed greatly to over $5.2 million visitor spend in the region.

Over 16 days, a diverse and exciting range of art exhibitions were on offer including open studios, hands-on workshops in Mt Barker and Albany, demonstrations, artist’s talks and public art displays. Works included painting, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, antique assemblages, printmaking, woodwork, jewellery, photography, resin and glass art. Visitors were able to view artwork in studios and meet with the artist.

16 schools from across the region participated with art displays of students works in retail businesses, cafes and public places.

Inclusivity has been one priority for Art South WA in recent years and collaborations with the Community Living Association resulted in a fabulous exhibit with over 10 clients participating in their exhibition.  A new collaboration  for 2023 included the Eclectic Unity Group utilising the Albany Aboriginal Heritage Community Centre as a venue. This collective of both indigenous and wadjela women were open for 14 days and had a very successful Art Trail.

15,000 copies of the program that included exhibitions, workshops, maps and acknowledgements were distributed across the region from the west coast from Perth downwards. This Art Trail booklet is also online and is the largest acknowledged source of information for Art Trail visitors.

A full copy of the final report can be viewed HERE