Design Canberra 2021 logo

Image: City walk installations, Desiderium by Hannah Quinlivan and Glimmer, graphic intervention by Hannah Gason. Photo: 5 Foot Photography
Image: City walk installations, Desiderium by Hannah Quinlivan and Glimmer, graphic intervention by Hannah Gason. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Results are in

So much to celebrate!

After the challenges and disruption of the global pandemic and other confronting experiences of 2020, the fact that Craft ACT was able to deliver a positive, inspiring, secure and creative three-week DESIGN Canberra festival is reason enough for a quiet celebration.

And celebrate we did. We celebrated that we could be together, that we could honour and support the artists and designers who make our city so liveable. We celebrated that we could connect with others online when they were not able to join us in person and we celebrated the enduring contribution of diverse disciplines from graphic design to architecture and those who have shaped this beautiful city of design.

Since the festival closed on 29 November, we have gathered the data and analysed the audience research. We discovered there was so much more to celebrate than simply the opportunity to deliver a festival against the odds:

Our pivot in response to the pandemic allowed us to deliver more outdoor events, and more small group tours and talks. This helped us to connect more meaningfully with our audiences and find new, and in many cases, better ways to deliver our festival messages and celebrate and promote Canberra as a global city of design. This strategy paid off. Tour attendance was up, as was open studio and workshop attendance.

“The DESIGN Canberra festival’s growing success is thanks to this diverse, creative and constructive collaboration with so many people. Thank you, we could not have delivered this important festival which this year, against the odds, was attended by more than 84,000 people, generated $210,000 in artist income and supported over 500 artists, designers and creatives.” Rachael Coghlan, CEO + Artistic Director

Read the full festival report here.

Kirstie Rea, With Care. Photo: Lean Timms

More artist commissions + artist income!

The 2020 festival program commissioned more artists than ever before, and many Canberra artists whose international commitments were abruptly cancelled. Hannah Quinlivan’s beautiful installation “Desiderium” was a large-scale, suspended work teamed with drawing onto the ground plane and working with acclaimed classical vocalists for a memorable and stirring performance. Designer-in-residence Kirstie Rea’s commissioned work, ‘With care’, used coloured folded glass blankets “as a generic symbol for comfort and care.” The annual DESIGN Canberra graphic interventions invited designers to develop site specific works to show public spaces in a new light. Artist Hannah Gason re-imagined the Hinder glass mosaic at Monaro Mall; Chelsea Lemon represented the Namadgi National Park bushfires at Gungahlin Place Park and Luritja artist, Kayannie Denigan, transformed the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore.

Over $210,000 of income was generated for artists and designers as a result of the DESIGN Canberra Festival. This marks a 11% increase in the artist income generated compared to 2019 and is an outstanding effort to help artists make a living from their practice. The DESIGN Canberra open studio program was again successful, with strong attendance and record sales.

We LOVE our audiences

Our audiences are growing even more engaged with an increase in repeat visitors, and the majority of visitors attending two or more events (with an impressive 15% of visitors attending more than 7 events). 71% of our signature programs booked out. Architecture and craft and making were once again crowd favourites, with landscape design increasing in popularity this year, appealing to 17% of respondents in line with our new programming.

Bev Hogg open studio. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

True collaboration

Over 70% of our budget this year was generated by cash sponsorship and self-generated income.

This is an all-time record and a reflection of the close and productive relationships we nurture with our cherished sponsors, partners, supporters and audiences. In addition, the generous ACT Government funding for the festival brings security and certainty to our planning and operations.

The cohesiveness and experience of the Craft ACT team contributed greatly to the success of the 2020 festival, and our modest resources are amplified by the many like-minded, enthusiastic and dedicated people and organisations who help make the festival a reality each year. We will continue to collaborate with individuals and organisations who share our values and are committed to building a respectful and creative culture which supports a sustainable design sector.

Effective marketing

In terms of marketing DESIGN Canberra’s in-house digital marketing platforms were highly effective, showing sustained growth in engagement and reach, especially via the upgraded DESIGN Canberra website, social channels and email marketing (with 83,598 opens, a 137% increase on 2019). Media coverage of the festival was also very strong.

There remains much potential for this growing festival. New and significant sources of funding are needed to support additional dedicated interstate marketing programs and resources to build visibility and new audiences for future festivals. Interstate marketing remains a priority and tourism collaborations and investment remains a potential area of growth, having worked more closely together in 2020.

Thor’s Hammer open studio. Photo: 5 Foot Photography

Thank you

After a challenging 2020, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping us to deliver a successful DESIGN Canberra festival.

With your help, we have connected with the community, promoted design and designers, increased income for artists, and forged new and productive collaborations with like-minded people and organisations.

DESIGN Canberra acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding areas. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. We aim to respect cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.