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Arts tourism valuable to Broken Hill

Tuesday, 18th February, 2020

Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery & Museum Manager, Tara Callaghan. PICTURE: Annette Northey Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery & Museum Manager, Tara Callaghan. PICTURE: Annette Northey

By Annette Northey

If statistics are anything to go by, Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery is pulling its weight when it comes to boosting tourism, with a reported 14,000 non-local tourists going through its doors in the last financial year.

This figure affirms the Australian Council for the Arts report, “Domestic Arts Tourism: Connecting the Country”, released yesterday, which found that arts tourists make a valuable contribution to boosting local economies.

“Arts tourists... travel further, stay longer and spend more than domestic tourists overall,” the report said.

“This research reveals Australians’ willingness to travel for the arts and how arts and creativity are significant tourism drivers.”

The report also said there was a willingness for tourists to travel farther to destinations beyond the capital cities, and stay longer, to pursue new and authentic experiences, including engagement with First Nations art and craft.

“In 2018, the average length of stay for an arts overnight trip was five nights compared to the average of three and a half nights spent away from home on any overnight trip.” 

Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery Manager, Tara Callaghan, said the staff engaged with most of the tourists that come through the door and can gauge, unofficially, where they’re from and their reasons for coming. 

“I do think people know about the arts (in Broken Hill) and I think that has a lot to do with the history of the Brushmen of the Bush and how Pro Hart made it so nationally famous with his TV ads and everything,” said Ms Callaghan.

“We have a lot to thank Pro Hart and the Hart family for.

“But I do think what’s happening, as well, with the water issues and someone like Badger Bates, who’s both an activist and an artist, we are actually finding people coming through and specifically asking to see his work,” she said.

“Something else that we do notice is, we get a lot of people because of the film industry.

“Whether they’ve seen Priscilla, and that’s because of the Broken Heel Festival, or Wake in Fright, so that’s the arts too,” she said.

Ms Callaghan said tourists accounted for about 70 per cent of all visitors to the gallery.

A Council spokesperson said the 14,000 tourists in a year that went through the Regional Art Gallery doors showed “the value of art tourism in Broken Hill”.

The report also found, “Tourists are staying longer and spending more than overnight domestic tourists overall. 

“In 2018, overnight arts tourists contributed $14.3 billion, or 20 per cent of the total overnight domestic tourist spend, higher than the contribution of those on arts daytrips,” according to the report.

The report also said that tourists who went on overnight trips including First Nations arts, craft and cultural displays spent an average of $1,558 per trip, the highest spend of all arts activities. 

“The average nights per trip including First Nations arts and craft was seven and a half nights, which was the longest average trip length of all arts activities. 

“This could be in part due to tourists travelling further and into more remote regions to experience First Nations arts and culture.”

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