Connecting visitors to products in rural areas can be challenging at the best of times. When it comes to arts and culture, the challenge can be even more difficult as rural areas are perhaps more known for natural tourism opportunities. But arts and culture DOES exist in rural areas, and operators out there are devising innovative ways to promote themselves and work together to connect to visitors.
I was fortunate to blend all of my worlds together this November by taking part in the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisans Christmas Tour on Nov 18 - 21. While the work side of me focuses on rural communities, sustainability and tourism, the leisure side of me is focused on arts, horses and farm life. This year, I decided to open the Broody Rooster Guesthouse and Gallery at my farm, where I display artwork, teach courses and sell gifts for six months of the year when I am at VIU, and the other six months it will be a weekly vacation rental. In order to gain profile, I applied to be a part of the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisans Association Christmas Tour, and was fortunate to get in.
While the weekend did have snow and some wicked weather, I would have to say for me - it was a resounding success. Having the opportunity to open my doors to the public, meet with customers, talk art and horses and get new ideas was great. Business was great, I sold 5 paintings, had lots of interest in the spring workshops and classes and received commissions.
I am thankful for this opportunity and recognize the value of collaborative marketing like this event for other regions of BC where artisans may not have access to this sort of an opportunity. I have decided to write a case study on this initiative using data collected from visitors at this years tour - it will be profiled in a chapter called "Cultural tourism in the rural context" in an upcoming Tourism Essentials manual (this spring - and I will be sure to post how to access it).
Thanks to the Artisans Association, in particular Justine and Grant at Yellowpoint Cranberries - for all your support, ideas and efforts.