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Resources and Toolkits Tapping into cultural tourism with Jane Ross of The Culture Farm

With the final stage of the Cultural Tourism Generator program underway, Regional Arts Australia are excited to be connecting three highly-experienced industry experts as mentors to 21 regionally based volunteer run festivals, dance companies, art centres and museums (just to name a few) across the country. Each participant in the Generator program is working with a mentor to identify potential cultural tourism markets and products, and co-design a project that uses arts and culture to drive visitation.

In Victoria and Tasmania, participants are working with Jane Ross of The Culture Farm. Jane has over 20 years industry experience working in arts marketing and cultural tourism for Government, Not for Profit, and commercial organisations including 2.5 years as Executive Officer at Cultural Attractions of Australia.

Jane has generously shared some advice for tapping into cultural tourism, and provided an update on the exciting projects she has been mentoring.

Regional Arts Australia: Firstly, can you introduce yourself, your business The Culture Farm, and the work you have been doing in the cultural tourism industry.

Jane Ross: I run a business specialising in strategy development and campaign delivery for the arts and cultural tourism sectors. I started off doing a Masters in Tourism and the Visual Arts before working in local government (community arts), State Government (arts & tourism departments), the commercial sector (major arts events) and now The Culture Farm.I have worked on the set-up of the cultural tourism body Cultural Attractions of Australia, the marketing and tourism for major musicals and plays, the marketing for the last two years of the Archibald Prize Exhibition in Victoria,and mentoring some of the arts organisations in Regional Arts Australia’s Cultural Tourism Generator Program, to name a few!

Regional Arts Australia: What value do you see in developing meaningful cultural tourism experiences?

Jane Ross: Cultural tourism provides communities big and small with a way to say something about who they are and where they have come from. The development of such projects gives communities the opportunity to reflect on what sets them apart from others – their unique point of difference – as well as a way to bring new money into their local economy.

Regional Arts Australia: Through the Cultural Tourism Generator program you’re currently supporting a number of small-to-medium organisations to deliver tourism, audience focussed projects. Can you provide a brief overview of the scope of organisations and projects you are supporting?

Jane Ross: Yes, I have been fortunate enough to work with six arts organisations across Tasmania and Victoria. Each project has been different and has presented unique opportunities to reach a new audience. In brief:

Bay of Fires Winter Festival (Tas): With project funding tied to project delivery by April this creative thinking organisation has looked towards their Summer event as the tourism driver. For this event we have explored the ready market of visitors over the Summer months in neighbouring coastal towns as well as Derby which attracts cyclists from all over. This project has been about leveraging visitation and encouraging increased spend within the community. Given the town is not booked out at the time of the event the organisers are also working with local accommodation providers for customised packages.

Cygnet Folk Festival (Tas): Cygnet Folk Festival is an institution that has been going for over 40 years and regularly sells out. In 2023 they are creating a new event for families wishing to come just for a day. Project funding has been directed towards attracting this new market in terms of both programming and advertising. It’s a clever cultural tourism initiative as it enables growth for an area where accommodation is booked out a year in advance and helps to sure up the longevity of the event by investing in new audiences.

Festival of Voices (Tas): This event is built on joy – the joy of bringing voices together. The cultural tourism project for this event is very focussed on building a database of choirs across Australia and making personal contact with them to let them know about the Festival and the opportunities for choirs to visit. The aim is to bring 10 new choirs to Hobart for 2023 and it looks like this is well on track!

Quambatook Silo Cinema (Vic): Australia’s first town to project a film onto a silo, which they do twice annually – this organisation will be skilling up and creating a targeted campaign with an emphasis on PR. We have a few secret tricks/stunts up our sleeve to really anchor the PR so watch this space.

Stratford Courthouse Theatre (Vic): We have been exploring their point of difference, as there are a lot of performing arts and music venues in Gippsland. It is Gippsland’s most intimate theatre venue, as somewhere to enjoy top quality performances in a venue with a capacity of 100 and then regularly meet the performers in the bar afterwards. The campaign will tap into the visiting friends and relatives market as well as initiatives to attract visitors from neighbouring towns.

Tiny Towns Art Trail (Vic): A clever event that encourages people to tour across some of Victoria’s beautiful Goldrush towns and celebrates the local artistic community and arts offering. It’s a great fit with some of the arts and heritages strengths of neighbouring regions. The Tiny Towns Arts Trail’s challenge has been getting the word out there, given its limited resources, however one strength we have been looking at is using the reach of all the participants to engage with a broader audience. Part of the funding has been used to create a kit to make it easy for participants to promote the event via their own channels.

Regional Art Australia: For anyone else interested in designing and delivering a cultural tourism experience, what should they consider?

Jane Ross: How can you tap into cultural tourism:

When considering whether or not you want to target cultural tourists there are a few questions to ask:

  • Will my offering be of interest to visitors from outside the local community?
  • What is unique about my offering that will motivate people to travel to see it?
  • Who can help me get my offering right and spread the word?
  • How does my offering complement the overall tourism positioning in my region or is it a powerful enough disruptor to pull visitation in its own right?
  • How will people find out about my offering and how specifically will I reach people who will be interested in attending?
  • What will it cost to promote my offering to tourists and are there the budget and resources to successfully do that?
  • What are the most powerful and cost effective medium/s to reach my market?
  • When should I start speaking to this new audience?
  • How do I encourage those who attended to become future ambassadors for the offering, spreading good word of mouth and encouraging repeat visitation?
  • How do I continue to learn from my visitors?

If having gone through the checklist you feel that you have the right offering for a tourism audience it is worth testing this with some knowledgeable third parties, starting to map out a plan and exploring whether there is a funding program and in-kind opportunities to assist with your new venture. There are also other opportunities to look at how to work with the travel industry to promote and distribute your offering – but that might be a blog for another day!

Jane Ross Profile Photo
Jane Ross, Director, The Culture Farm