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Art Gallery celebrates successful first year under Paradigm Shift

21 June 2007

Visitor numbers will come close to reaching the target of 350,000 this financial year, exhibition spaces are buzzing with a new energy and Christchurch audiences – old and new – are experiencing an exciting and fresh exhibition programme as the Christchurch Art Gallery celebrates a successful first year under the Paradigm Shift.

Christchurch City Council Mayor Garry Moore says he is proud of the milestones that the Gallery has achieved during the first year under the Paradigm Shift or Five-Year Strategic Plan.

"It has been a challenging time for everyone to learn to work in new ways and it is a tribute to not only the Gallery staff for embracing change but also the Gallery’s key stakeholders and Christchurch community for taking ownership and playing an important role in re-energising their Gallery."

He says there is a real sense of excitement in the Gallery which is heartening.

"Art is spilling out of the galleries in to the foyer, forecourt and the garden. We’ve had a live sheep installation, art on the Montreal Street entrance to the car park, a giant inflatable bunny in the foyer, art ascending the stairwell and public programmes that have been fun, entertaining and educational.

"It is fantastic to see the Gallery beginning to become such an integral part of the community by playing a key role in achieving its Vision of making the Cultural Precinct and Worcester Boulevard the most visited cultural tourism site in New Zealand," Mr Moore says.

The Paradigm Shift or Five-year Strategic Plan is a framework to guide the Christchurch Art Gallery to achieve its Vision and increase visitor numbers to 400,000 by 2009/10 while reducing the cost per visitor. It followed falling visitor numbers and a peer review which labelled the Gallery’s exhibition programme as "polite, low-paced and not rebellious enough".

Under the Five-year Strategic Plan, the commitment is to new audiences through a dynamic new exhibition programme; exhibitions which are more varied in content, style and subject; a focus on partnerships to tap into new opportunities and activities to link with city-wide festivals; and a strong emphasis on creating a new, stimulating visitor experience.

Council Community Services General Manager Stephen McArthur says the Gallery has made phenomenal progress in the last few months to fulfil its Vision and achieve its KPIs.

"There is already evidence of new audiences beginning to enjoy the exhibitions, events and programmes on offer at the Gallery. Visitor numbers at the end of June are expected to be close to the target of 350,000 – an increase of 60,000 from the previous year. This will be an outstanding result."

With a new management team led by new Director Jenny Harper, strong partnerships being formed with key stakeholders, and an exhibition programme that challenges, entertains and stimulates, Mr McArthur says he is confident the Gallery will thrive and realise its Vision and KPIs by 2009/10.

The Paradigm Shift or Five-Year Strategic Plan is a source of drive, inspiration and accountability for the Gallery.

"While there has been considerable progress in creating a Gallery that connects with a wider audience, yet continues to stimulate its loyal arts community, there are still challenges for the future," says Jenny Harper.

"The Gallery must achieve 400,000 visitors by 2009/10 and embrace new audiences. This is about an evolution; shaping a public art institution in which all Christchurch residents share a sense of ownership, where they want to visit frequently because they find they are entertained, provoked and challenged by the experience, and a place that they are keen to share with family, friends and visitors to the city."

Ms Harper says Christchurch Art Gallery is evolving with fresh and innovative ideas, and has the potential to become one of the favoured leisure destinations for residents, visitors and tourists, as well as one of New Zealand’s most visited cultural sites.

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