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Christchurch Art Gallery visitor numbers highest in three years

8 July 2007

Visitor numbers at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu increased 18 per cent in the year ended June 2007 – the highest in three years.

Numbers for the 2006-07 financial year were 340,927, up from 288,293 in 2005-06.

Christchurch City Council Community Services General Manager Stephen McArthur says the almost 53,000 increase in visitor numbers is a phenomenal result and proof that the Gallery has begun to deliver exhibitions, events and programmes that appeal to a wider audience.

"While the Gallery did not meet its target of 350,000, the result of close to 341,000 is an outstanding achievement.

"It is important to remember that the Paradigm Shift or Five-year Strategic Plan was only launched 12 months ago and the new management team has only been in place for eight months. Yet, the Gallery has already embraced change and the exhibition spaces are buzzing with a new sense of energy.

"There is a dynamic new exhibition programme at the Gallery which is more varied in content, style and subject. Toi Maori: The Eternal Thread – Te Aho Mutunga Kore is a great example. This exhibition was the first major international touring exhibition to celebrate the changing art of Maori weaving and it attracted more than 85,000 visitors. It is an extraordinary result," Mr McArthur says.

"Giacometti, the Gallery’s exclusive summer exhibition, was another big drawcard, attracting almost 19,000 visitors – only 10,000 fewer than in Sydney. This is an amazing result when you compare Sydney’s population base and number of tourists."

Under the Five-year Strategic Plan, the Gallery has a new Vision and a target of increasing visitor numbers to 400,000 by 2009/10, while reducing the cost per visitor to $16.

He says it is pleasing to note that in 2006/07 the Gallery reduced the cost per visitor from the high of $24.17 per head in 2005/06 to $19.78 this year. "This is a great achievement and two years ahead of target."

Mr McArthur says while considerable progress has been made by the Gallery in achieving its Vision of making the Cultural Precinct and Worcester Boulevard the most visited cultural tourism site in New Zealand, there are still many challenges.

"This financial year the Gallery has a target of 375,000 visitors. I am confident that the Gallery will continue to thrive. Already, there is the Morris & Co exhibition scheduled from mid March next year.

"William Morris was one of the greatest designers of all time and the Gallery will exhibit the largest collection of the world famous Morris & Co furnishings ever seen in the country. This is an exhibition with broad appeal."

He says other exhibitions under development for 2008 will excite Christchurch audiences, visitors and tourists alike. "All I can say to Christchurch residents is become a regular visitor at your Gallery in 2008 – you are guaranteed to have a fun, entertaining, educational and stimulating experience."

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