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Turner Contemporary surpasses 156,000 visitor targets in first three months

  • Date: 29 July 2011
  • Area: South East
crowd of people lined up

Crowds waiting to get into Turner Contemporary on its opening weekend, 2011 . Credit: Photograph: Ady Kerry

Margate's new gallery hit its visitor target in only three months, bringing in visitors from across the region and beyond and generating extra income to the town.

Turner Contemporary, an Arts Council regularly funded organisation, opened its doors for the first time on 25 April 2011 to great anticipation. The gallery welcomed over 14,000 visitors during its opening weekend and over 45,000 in its first ten days. Turner forecast 150,000 visitors in the first year, but has already reached this number in just three months.

Director Victoria Pomery congratulated the 156,000th visitor, who was presented with a bottle of Kentish sparkling wine.

Victoria says, 'It is fantastic to have hit our visitor target so early in the year. Research shows that we are meeting our aim to attract a wide range of local, regional, national and international visitors. We also know that we are appealing to new audiences, with 5% of our visitors never having been to an art gallery before.'

According to the gallery's research, 48% of visitors to the gallery are from the local area of Thanet, with 27% from the South East, 10% from London with the remainder from the rest of the UK and overseas.

85% of visitors said that their trip was made specifically to see the gallery, showing that the gallery is attracting visitors and income to the town that would not happen otherwise.

Visitors to the new gallery have been able to see their opening exhibition, Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens, which centres on JMW Turner's 1815 painting of a volcanic eruption he never witnessed and presents four new commissions and two existing works from contemporary visual artists.

It is hoped that the gallery will help be a driving force in Margate's regeneration with its pull for visitors, and recent evidence shows that the town's private sector is picking up.

At a recent meeting with Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, local business owners reported income up to double that of the equivalent period last year.

Southeastern Trains report a 30% rise in the number of people using Margate railway station since the gallery opened in April.

In the past 18 months, 25 new businesses have opened
in Margate's Old Town and the lower end of the High Street.

Sally Abbott, Regional Director, South East, Arts Council England, said, ‘We have seen that culture-led regeneration works in other South East coastal towns and cities as well as in other parts of the country. I am positive that The Arts Council, working together with local authorities, the private sector and other agencies, can help improve local economies and the quality of life for the people living and working in the area.

'We are pleased that Turner has been such a success already and we look forward to having even more people enjoy and be enriched by the excellent art and programming that if offers.’   

Turner has recently been nominated for the Regeneration & Renewal Awards 2011 for the 'Best use of arts and culture in regeneration' category, the outcome of which they will learn on Thursday 29 September 2011.

Already the gallery has won a number of other awards including the Margate Civic Society's Town Pride Award and the Condé Nast Traveller Innovation & Design Reader's Choice Award. They were also nominated for East Kent People's Award's Culture Award.

Exhibition Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens runs until 4 September 2011. Nothing in the World but Youth runs from 17 September to 8 January 2012. Rodin's The Kiss is on display from 4 October to 2 September 2012. Admission is free.

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