Expo's success ensures its return
Artists and organisers are trumpeting the success of Art Expo Nelson, so much so that it is going ahead again next year - with 30 extra artists.
The inaugural event drew about 3500 people to the Trafalgar Centre and exhibition manager Nic Foster said an initial estimate of $50,000 worth of art sales from the event had been scaled up to $65,000.
A hundred artists were selected for the expo from a pool of more than 150 applicants. Eighty per cent were from the Nelson region and the rest from around the South Island.
The works were by a mix of established and emerging artists, with prices ranging from $300 to $20,000.
Mr Foster said feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive - 95 per cent of attendees said they would go again and about 80 per cent said it should be held annually.
"I had one person say to me that it was the best thing that's happened to arts and crafts in Nelson for along time."
Mr Foster said there had been a significant out-of-town presence - about 11 per cent of people - and many of them spent money on other things while in the region.
About 10 per cent of the emerging and established artists picked up new dealers, who were hosted by The Regional Art Development Initiative (RADi) - the same group that produced the Nelson Arts Guide - while in town.
Mr Foster said one of the dealers initially thought the invitation was too good to be true.
"We had some really, really good feedback from the dealers. One guy thought it was a hoax. He loved it," he said.
St Arnaud artist Jan Thomson, whose works were on display, is especially happy with the event after she won a large Katie Gold pot worth about $400.
The landscape painter's name was drawn from about 1500 others after she filled in a survey used to get feedback on the event.
She was rapt to be given the "beautiful" pot by Mr Foster at Pomeroy's Tea and Coffee in Nelson last week, and said she expected it to invoke "ceramic jealousy" in some of her friends.
"I'm just blown away. I think it will have a special table of its own - and when the grandchildren come, it will get put away," she said.
Thomson paid $249 to display her paintings on two large panels at the expo, and she said it was well worth the investment.
Although she did not sell anything, she gave out a lot of business cards and her website had been getting a lot of hits.
"It was a really good PR exercise. It was a very vibrant atmosphere and I couldn't believe how busy it was all weekend.
"I met lots of interesting people and made some good contacts," she said.
RADi, a not-for-profit organisation, secured funding from the Nelson City Council's events marketing and development programme for the inaugural expo, and Mr Foster said it hoped to do so again for next year's event.
The programme is for developing distinct events that bring economic benefits to Nelson by attracting visitors in the shoulder and off-peak seasons.
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