Margaret River Region Open Studios claims major growth in 2023 with eyes set for next September

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Photographer Russell Ord opened his new gallery at Edwards Wines to visitors for the first time during Open Studios in September.
Camera IconPhotographer Russell Ord opened his new gallery at Edwards Wines to visitors for the first time during Open Studios in September. Credit: Supplied

The growing reputation of Margaret River Region Open Studios is propelling it towards year-on-year growth, festival chair Jim Davies says.

The board representing more than 160 artists taking part in the annual two-week showcase of practitioners opening their studio doors was chuffed beyond measure this week to reveal the findings of the post-event wrap-up.

Mr Davies said the festival continued to break records, measuring 12 per cent growth in its whopping 145,000 individual studio visits culminating in an estimated $11 million economic benefit for the region between Augusta and Busselton.

Participant numbers were increased for September’s festival, as well as print and social media advertising, but Mr Davies said many reasons were behind the growth.

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“The great reputation of the event creates strong ‘word of mouth’ and we continue to find ways to build our awareness, so it’s strong repeat visitors plus a boost of new first-time visitors each year that keeps the event growing,” he said.

Famed photographer Russell Ord said his first year taking part in Open Studios saw plenty of visitors to his new gallery at Edwards Wines on Ellen Brook Road.

“I witnessed a substantial influx of visitors bringing enthusiasm and appreciation for the art showcased,” Ord said.

“The overwhelmingly positive feedback highlighted the deep engagement with the diverse range of artworks presented across the event.

“Our gallery was open each day, so we weren’t able to get out, but loved having other local artists and art enthusiasts travelling to the South West to connect with us and purchase the art.”

Mr Davies said surveys showed more than half of the festival’s attendees came from Perth and this year about 23 per cent were first-time visitors.

“The positive feedback shows just how loved the event has become, with great accolades from visitors and artists alike,” he said.

“Ninety-eight per cent said the event met their expectations, 83 per cent said it was an important event on WA’s art calendar, 97 per cent were satisfied with the quality of the artwork, and 95 per cent said they would likely attend next year’s event.”

Among the innovations in 2023 was the first appointment of art ambassadors for the festival, with Queensland painter and sculptor Michael Zavros and Perth-based designer and arts champion Andrew Thornton Hick filling those roles.

MRROS returns next year from September 7 to 22.

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