I did mean to do this earlier this week, but am glad I didn't until today, as we have received many more emails, had countless discussions and (hopefully) have worked out a way to iron out a few wrinkles.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we knew, that as this was only our second retreat, we still had alot to learn. And the fact that we were dealing with a venue across the other side of the country, there would be even more to learn. So, with that in mind, I believe that the retreat went extremely well, the hiccups were relatively minor and easily remedied for 2009 (more on that later).
Overall, the response from those who have returned their comment sheets, emailed, phoned and visited the shop has been overwhelmingly positive.
There was not a single negative comment about the tutors. All thoroughly enjoyed the variety of classes, the mixture of art styles and the tutors themselves. As I was fortunate enough to attend a class from each tutors, I would agree with that. I personally learnt so much from all my classes, and believe that I can apply all I have learnt in to my own art.
This was a mixed reaction and now I can see how much we would have benefitted from visiting the venue well prior to the retreat. The class rooms could have been alot larger, especially paint classes, better sign posted with a map given to each student, easier access to water etc... and having the shop in a separate location.
For 2009, we are planning on having the retreat in Sydney. There are two locations that have been recommended, and we plan on travelling to Sydney soon to check them out. We are looking for a venue that provides workshops, accomodation and meals all in one location. Having accomodation and workshops in the one venue worked very well in Perth last year.
Perhaps the biggest bone of contention was meals/refreshments. At the retreat in Perth 2007, morning and afternoon teas were provided and the cost of this was enormous (jaw droppingly expensive!!!!!!!!!!), plus many mentioned that they did not want to stop working for a refreshment break. It was with that in mind that we planned the Melbourne retreat in the way that we did. Needless to say, that did not work either! So in 2009, we thought a venue that provided all meals, plus refreshments would be ideal. Though the initial cost will be higher to cover meals and accomodation, once you factor in all the expenses, it will work out much more economical in the end. We are committed to keeping this as affordable as possible to ensure that the retreat is accessible to a wide range of people.
Many have said that they are quite happy to pay the higher cost and have a high standard of international tutors. Some have mentioned that the prices are too high in comparison to other art classes offered. Unfortunately, due to the cost of bringing our international tutors over to Australia, we are unable to reduce this cost in any way. Also, due to the increase in fual prices and airfares going up, this cost will most likely have to increase in 2009. Sorry!!! In order to bring high quality artist from America, this is unavoidable.
We did offer a range of lower cost classes with Australian tutors, with a mixed response, though I know that those who did attend Ro and Jackys classes had an amazing time!
Once again, people have mentioned that they are more than happy with the international tutors. We thought we would offer classes with Australian tutors again on the Thursday in 2009. This information will be released at the same time as the international tutors, so that people have plenty of time to organise their schedule.
We also realised that this mammoth task was just way too much for the two of us and in 2009, we will be having several more assistants to ensure the smooth operation from start to finish. We have tried very hard to factor in every person needs, but realise that we do need to be more firm on several issues. In 2009, there will be a few guidelines that will need to be adhered to, to ensure that it is a smooth running, fun and creative event for everyone.
Other changes for 2009, will include
- an email address dedicated entirely to the retreat. This will ensure emails do not go unanswered or end up in the 'junk', by the email sorting system. All emails will be answered promptly.
- a few social events, show and tells, group photos etc...
- retreat assistants in every class.
- a separate shop area.
- a tutor trading night (announced prior to the retreat commencing)
- clearer instructions with maps etc....
Please, if you have not returned your comment sheet, please do so by mail or email. Also, if you have any further comments, suggestion or requests, leave a comment on this post and I will respond in the next post.
We hope to have some announcements later this month.
Have a great Sunday!
Oh, before I forget. Congratulations to Debbi Baker whos work is in the latest Sew Somerset! Way to go Debbi, your work is awesome.