NEWCASTLE Art Gallery recorded their highest number of visitors in 10 years last year and have put it down to quality exhibitions, youth engagement and social media.
The gallery saw close to 77,000 people walk through the doors in 2018, a number they have not experienced in the past decade. In 2017 there was 62,329 visitors and in 2008, there were 71,551.
“We’re absolutely delighted with what we were able to achieve for our local community and visitors to the city,” gallery director Lauretta Morton said.
Newcastle Art Gallery attributes the growth partly to their 12 “world-class exhibitions” - 10 of which were curated and displayed exclusively at the gallery.
Highlights included the current exhibition ‘OLSEN ORMANDY: a creative force’ and the Kilgour Prize 2018, featuring winning artist Natasha Walsh.
An increasing presence on Instagram and Facebook has helped engage the younger generations especially, as has a Youth Reference Group, which is also thought to have boosted numbers.
Hope for expansion of the gallery, including more exhibition and storage space, is underpinned by recent successes including the increased visitor numbers and securing the Dobell Exhibition Grant worth $40,000 for the upcoming ‘SODEISHA: connected to Australia’.
Tim Crakenthorp MP has also pledged the state government will provide $14 million for the gallery’s expansion, should Labor win the upcoming election.
In the state government’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan 2025, it says supporting “Newcastle’s growth as a major metropolitan area, including redevelopment of the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery precinct” is a regional “opportunity”.
Although it is not a funding commitment, lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes described it as “a crucial step forward”.
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