A record of 114,770 people attended the 21-day festival in 2019, a 2% increase on the 2018 record of 112,844. 61% of audiences were repeat visitors to the festival, a great result for audience retention, and over 90% of events were free, ensuring accessibility amongst a diverse audience.
“While we are still a young festival, we are greatly encouraged by the enthusiastic response from our audiences, over 40% of whom attended 4 or more events this year. It felt like a celebration of Canberra’s vibrant and creative community and world-class collaborations that are happening right here on our doorstep,” said Rachael Coghlan, CEO of Craft ACT and Artistic Director of DESIGN Canberra.
Now in its sixth year, the festival delivered an ambitious program that wove together design excellence, design heritage and design education and reached far beyond the borders of the ACT and Australia. The second Object Subject National Design Conference brought thought leaders from around the globe to explore social, environmental and cultural responsibility in design; Berlin-based experimental art collective, Plastique Fantastique showed us the possibilities of new architectural forms; while the exquisite Glass Utopia exhibition, curated by Milan-based duo Mr. Lawrence, built a dialogue between Venetian contemporary glass production and Australia.
Civic Square became the hub of festival events during the working week throughout festival, with a diverse program of talks, tours, workshops and wellness activities breathing life into a sometimes-overlooked but significant site within the city centre. On the weekends, DESIGN Canberra ventured out into the suburbs to explore artist studios and beautiful architecturally designed homes, celebrating the best in contemporary craft, architecture and design.
With its grass-roots foundations, at the heart of DESIGN Canberra is an incredible community of makers, artists and designers. DESIGN Canberra was delighted to generate over $190,000 of income directly for artists and designers during the festival this year. This new record marks a 7% increase in the artist income generated compared to 2018 and is an outstanding effort to help artists make a living from their practice.
‘The 2017 Throsby report found that craft practitioners’ annual median gross income from their practice was $7000: many craft practitioners supplement their income with other work. The report also found that 81% of craft practitioners received income from the sale of artworks, more than any other practicing professional artists. In Craft ACT’s 2019 DESIGN Canberra festival, total artist income of over $190,000 was generated directly in just 20 days. Some artists make more during the festival than they do throughout the entire year,” said Rachael Coghlan.
The DESIGN Canberra team were also thrilled to be able to get to know their audiences better this year. DESIGN Canberra audiences are tenacious, with 69% attending multiple events and 41% attending 4 or more. 84% come from the ACT and region, with the next biggest audience segment coming from Sydney and NSW.
DESIGN Canberra audiences love architecture, with 22% survey respondents selecting it as a field of interest. Close behind architecture was craft and making (21%) acknowledging Canberra’s reputation for acclaimed craft practitioners who could live anywhere in the world but chose to live, work and make in our region.
Organisers were touched by the overwhelming support from the community, especially the volunteers, with more than 50 people putting their hands up to help. Over 80 partners and supporters from the business, government, retail, education, cultural and tourism sectors also helped make DESIGN Canberra a success and Civic Square installations and public programs were generously supported by the ACT Government under the City Renewal Authority’s City Grants program.
Due to popular demand, the DESIGN Canberra team have opened the call out for proposals for the 2020 festival earlier this year and are excited to announce that the theme of the 2020 DESIGN Canberra festival will be “Care”.
“In 2020, the value of care is more important than ever: for our community, for our creativity, for craft and for our world. The 7th edition of DESIGN Canberra (9-29 November 2020) will become a collaborative forum for contemporary, experimental and authentic design to celebrate and explore the ways that care and caring is valuable and vital,” says Coghlan.
The 2019 festival Dashboard report can be found here and the 2020 call for proposals can be found here.