Friday March 5, 2021 | SOOKE, BC [Updated March 10, 2021]
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
For a second consecutive year, the Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online as a result of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
That foregoes the big exhibit setup usually held at the SEAPARC Leisure Complex in Sooke.
The show that features the unique artworks of Vancouver Island and BC coastal artists will be held for the usual 11 days — this year from July 23 to August 2, wrapping up at the end of the BC Day long weekend.
The decision to be virtual again this year has to do with the safety of volunteers, guests, artists and community, says SFAS president Eileen Badiulk. The spread of the COVID-19 virus (including easily-transmissible variants of concern) continues at a strong pace in BC right now.
Still on the cusp of a barely-vaccinated population:
This decision was announced on February 25, at the tail end of a month with little to no vaccines available to the general population. Now the promised timeline for everyone in BC to be vaccinated is mid-summer.
But that might be too tight a margin for the comfort-level of having an in-person show given the mix of thousands of people at the end over the usual 11 days.
It takes many months to plan the live in-venue show, says SFAS Executive Director Terrie Moore. “We would normally have had several key components booked by now,” she told Island Social Trends.
“The ongoing, and understandable, uncertainty about what health regulations may be in place at the time of show setup and hosting made planning extremely challenging,” says Moore.
Going online was successful:
Last year during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic the first SFAS online presentation was enthusiastically embraced by artists and patrons alike. Over 10,000 unique visitors from around the globe viewed 371 works by 234 artists. They voted for favourite pieces, participated in an online auction, zoomed in on artist demos and talks, and listed to the talents of local musicians. Highly anticipated events such as the Purchasers’ Preview and Artist Celebration was successfully adapted to suit the online format.
Sales of the artworks was at about 55% of the usual level (by volume, compared to the 2019 live in-venue show), which generated fewer dollars for the show (about 41% of 2019 sales value). But it was probably higher than what many would have expected given the sudden shift to online.
Gift shop sales were essentially non-existent, which impacted show revenues.
Moore says it was a “rewarding aspect” of the show to know that people who would normally not attend the show could see the artworks from the comfort of their homes.
And she was pleased that about 85% of the usual number of artists participated in the 2020 online show compared to the previous year’s in-person exhibit and sale.
Artwork submission opens March 17:
Artists may submit their works online starting March 17 through May 25 at www.sookefinearts.com for considered in the adjudication process for the 2021 show.
A wide range of sponsors support the Sooke Fine Arts Show each year. Island Social Trends (formerly West Shore Voice News) has been a Sooke Fine Arts Sponsor for many years.