Artists taking part in one of Wanganui's biggest art events are concerned the event is being poorly run.

The Artists Open Studios will be held from March 22-23 and 29-30 and attracts people from all over the North Island.

This year more than 100 artists are taking part in an event that gives the public the opportunity to see artists at work and to buy their wares.

One of those taking part, potter Ross Mitchell-Anyon, said the event appeared to be "in disarray".


"It seems the marketing hasn't taken place. I've been told the booklet [the arts trail guide] isn't coming out until two weeks before Open Studios starts, and I think that's appalling."

Mr Mitchell-Anyon said the guides were distributed throughout the North Island, encouraging people to come to Wanganui for the event.

"It's the out-of-towners that come to Open Studios with their chequebooks and spend a lot of money.

"For a lot of the people taking part it is a sizeable chunk of their annual income."

He said artists paid money to be part of the event and this year had not been value for money. "I'm a consumer, and I'm not happy."

Artists pay $165 or $209 to take part in Open Studios, depending on the size of their advertisement in the arts trail guide.

A number of artists spoken to by the Chronicle did not wish to be named. One said that not printing the arts trail guide early "seems like a mistake".

"And, to be honest, it's a bit penny-pinching. If the event costs more to run, artists should be charged accordingly to participate. I consider participating a business exercise, and as such expect to pay as any other business would for advertising.

"However, I am reluctant to be too critical, as I am also not willing to step up and organise."

One artist said many of those involved were now taking it upon themselves to do their own promotion for Open Studios.

"The booklets should have been out a couple of months ago," he said.

Jo Ockey was appointed the facilitator of the event in October, but stepped down in December. She declined to comment.

However, the chairwoman of the Artists Open Studios Whanganui Trust, Elysabeth Wolter, said she was confident the event would be as successful as always.

She said the reason the arts trail guide had not yet been produced was because all 8000 copies were snapped up in the first weekend of last year's event, forcing the trust to print more at great cost.

Ms Wolter said it would be distributed next week.

"We just want to ensure that we don't run out."

The guide was not cheap, she said. This year 10,000 copies were being printed at a cost of $9000.

In the meantime, a "save the date" card with basic details about Open Studios had been printed and distributed.

She said billboards had been erected, but the focus was mostly out of town rather than in Wanganui.

Ms Wolter said the event cost $44,000 to run and the amount the artists paid represented good value for money.

"At a similar event in Nelson artists pay $500 to be part of it."

She was disappointed artists worried about the event had not contacted her in the first place.

"I'm happy to talk to anyone about their concerns," she said.

Wanganui mayor Annette Main said Wanganui District Council's marketing was in regular contact with the organisers.

"They have asked when the guide will be available, but no response yet," she said.

The council gives $10,000 from the impact fund to Open Studios, plus $10,000 from community development initiatives contracts, as well as additional marketing funding.

"The funding recognises the status of this event in terms of positive profile for the arts in our town and its ability to attract visitors targeted for their interest in the arts," Ms Main said.