By VTIC Chief Executive Dianne Smith
The sharing of exhibitions across Australia, with cultural institutions supporting – not competing with – each other, was the inspiring vision presented by Chris Saines, Director of the Queensland Art Gallery-Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), at our Cultural Tourism Victoria Conference this month.
In an impressive and refreshing presentation at the magnificent Nobbies Centre at Phillip Island last week, Chris told how cultural institutions could work together to become net exporters of exhibitions, rather than separate importers of ‘blockbuster’ events.
He said the effectiveness of cultural tourism was because of its longevity and emphasised that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a big or small operator, knowing your market is crucial.
Chris, who was born in Myrtleford, began his tenure as QAGOMA’s Director in April and his appointment is good news for Victoria. Not only is he a leader in art gallery innovation, achieving commercial success and fostering strong local connections, he also values the tourism industry highly and collaborates effectively with other agencies and states, like Victoria.
Chris works closely with Tourism Events Queensland, demonstrating the power and value of strong cultural events, and has adapted his programs to suit new market needs. An example of this is the Gallery’s Up Late program, targeted at young people.
QAGOMA’s 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7), held from December 2012 to April 2013, attracted 565,000 visitors in four months; 31 per cent were from interstate and overseas. It received $2.5 million in government support and gave Queensland’s economy a $26 million boost. Not a bad return in economic terms!
Another impressive feat was the Gallery’s Quilts 1700-1945 exhibition earlier this year, which, though not a ‘blockbuster’ in the traditional sense, nevertheless produced blockbusting results – $4.1 million expenditure from only 42,000 visitors. Apparently, the ‘quilt-themed’ dessert platters at the event were a spectacular sight to behold!
Other wonderful presenters at this year’s conference included Martin Purslow, CEO of the National Trust, Jane Smith from MADE (Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka), Fiona Sweetman of Hidden Secret Tours and Tourism Victoria’s Nicole McLean.
Mentioning an event held at an award-winning attraction like Phillip Island Nature Parks is a nice segue to congratulating all winners, finalists and entrants of the recent RACV Victorian Tourism Awards.
As well as presenting a great opportunity for business development, the Awards also facilitate us getting together physically to appreciate just how powerful and remarkable our industry is as a whole. It was also nice to see that 20 of the 34 winners were VTIC members.
More and more tourism and events businesses are joining VTIC, including all Victoria’s Regional Tourism Boards. Victoria’s industry is truly uniting under VTIC’s overarching ‘One voice’ ethos, which was clear when we hosted so many members at our second AGM, held last month.
We do take it as a compliment that ‘One voice’ has been adopted by other tourism organisations. It is really important, as this approach allows us to speak with more authority and encourages members to speak up, please!
The need to be in concert is ever so crucial in the lead-up to the Victorian state election, scheduled for late November 2014. I’m delighted that the VTIC board has supported us to undertake a special project to assist in showcasing the industry prior to this important date. Stay tuned for further details in coming months.
To see the official photographs from the 2013 RACV Victorian Tourism Awards, click here and use the case-sensitive password RACV.