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Christchurch Art Gallery visitor numbers up 34 per cent

13 July 2006

Visitor numbers at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu increased 34 per cent in June 2006 – to a three-year high for the month.

Numbers for June 2006 were 25,491, buoyed by the phenomenal success of the popular photography exhibitions, Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Planet Football. This compares with 19,028 visitors in June 2005.

Christchurch City Council Community Services General Manager Stephen McArthur says it was pleasing to see good growth in visitor numbers at the end of the 2005-06 financial year and with the Paradigm Shift or Five-year Strategic Plan about to be released.

While the Gallery ended the 2005-06 financial year with 288,293 visitors, slightly down on the previous year’s 289,097, Mr McArthur says this had been expected.

“When the Gallery went into project mode at the end of 2005 and began work on the Paradigm Shift, we were warned in the Peer Review by museum expert Ken Gorbey that visitor numbers were likely to fall in the first few years of change. The fact that this was only 0.28 per cent is heartening.

“Much work has been done in the last six months to create a new exhibition programme and visitor experience at the Gallery, and I am confident that this will result in a gallery that better connects with not only its loyal arts community but also new and enlarged audiences.”

The challenge for the Gallery in 2006-07 is to achieve a visitor count of 350,000. Mr McArthur acknowledges that this is a step up from the current 288,293 visitors but says “with the Paradigm Shift, a new organisational structure, processes and procedure this is an achievable result”.

“The Summer 2006-07 Schedule is the first developed under the Paradigm Shift and it is a balanced programme of eight exhibitions, which includes an international blockbuster show by Alberto Giacometti, one of the most significant artists of the 20th Century. It will arguably be the most important exhibition of 20th Century sculpture to ever be seen in New Zealand,” he said.

“There are some extremely exciting times ahead for the Gallery as it forges a new identity and works to realise its Vision of the Cultural Precinct and Worcester Boulevard becoming the most visited cultural site in New Zealand.”

The Paradigm Shift Plan or Five-year Strategic Plan will be released next Wednesday, 19 July.

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