Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Turner Prize draws in record crowds

Between 21 October and 8 January almost 150,000 people visited the Turner Prize 2011 exhibition at The Baltic, Gateshead - more than double the average attendance figure.

This year the organising committee took the unusual step of holding the exhibition outside of a Tate Venue for the first time since it started in 1984, but high visitor figures should dispel the fears of those concerned by the move.

The success of this year’s event, which was won by sculptor Martin Boyce, will pave the way for other major artistic venues across the UK to host the competition in the future.

For Baltic director Godfrey Worsdale, bringing the Turner Prize to the region was always an exciting and intriguing prospect - and is a decision which has certainly paid off.

“My colleagues and I have been overwhelmed by the levels of public interest, not only the sheer numbers of visitors who have queued along the quayside to see the work of the four nominees, but the spirited response those visitors have made to the exhibition and their willingness to throw their support behind what the artists are doing,” he said.

“BALTIC has built a strong relationship with its visitors over the years through a meaningful dialogue around contemporary art, but to share that debate with over 149,000 people has been fantastic.”

As well as raising awareness of The Baltic’s capabilities as a major UK arts venue, the Turner Prize had a positive effect on the local economies in Gateshead, Newcastle and the wider North East.
Commenting on the event, Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Many local hotels, restaurants and other attractions will have undoubtedly benefitted from the event, one example saw Hilton Newcastle Gateshead have its busiest month ever when the exhibition opened in October.

“Hosting an exhibition of this scale continues to establish NewcastleGateshead as a vibrant, cultural place to visit.

“Media from all over the UK, and indeed the world, have visited in recent weeks and the subsequent coverage plays an important role in marketing NewcastleGateshead to a national and international audience.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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