Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 12°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Colchester: Action plan for attracting more people to the Firstsite arts venue after visitor numbers drop by 25,000

12:00 09 January 2014

Firstsite in Colchester won Best Community Building

Firstsite in Colchester won Best Community Building

Archant

A raft of proposals for attracting people to north Essex’s premiere arts venue have been announced after it revealed a drop of 25,000 in visitor numbers.

The £25million Firstsite contemporary art gallery, off Colchester’s High Street, welcomed 148,000 people in the year to September 2013, down from the 172,000 visitors who came through the doors in the 12 months following its opening in September 2011.

However bosses are confident of broadening the venue’s appeal and developing its money-making potential in the future through a number of key initiatives. These include working with the tourism sector to develop cultural tours of the area, commissioning large-scale works of art for the building’s prominent foyer area and retraining gallery staff so they interact more with visitors.

Firstsite director Matthew Rowe, who took up the role last February, says the drop in visitor numbers during its second year was to be expected.

He said: “If you look at most galleries and museums around the country, there tends to be a drop off in visitor numbers in the second year. In the first year, there is the anticipation of the opening and a sense of sensation for people coming to a place for the first time.

“But I am confident we can build on the audience figures and establish the venue as the leading contemporary visual arts venue in Essex.”

Mr Rowe’s plans for taking the venue forward include making it more “outward-looking” as well as developing the offering inside the building.

One scheme will see Firstsite work with a network of artist studios to provide training and work opportunities. He also intends to partner with tourism body Visit Essex, to develop packages for cultural tourism where an itinerary might include a visit to the gallery combined with a stop at the newly-renovated Colchester Castle museum and evening at the town’s Mercury Theatre.

Inside the golden-roofed building, Mr Rowe would like to see the interior split into separate, distinct spaces, so a number of exhibitions can run at the same time. This would include commissioning large works of art to be located in the foyer area, acting as a “shop window” for the gallery. There are also plans to improve the venue’s shop and cafe in order to generate more income.

Mr Rowe said the intention was to train gallery staff, so they are better-equipped to discuss the art on display with visitors.

He added: “Contemporary art is an experience and it doesn’t always give itself away easily. We would like to see our gallery assistants engaging with visitors and having informal conversations about the art. My ideal would be for staff to meet with artists ahead of an exhibition to talk about their work and then to act as a conduit between the artist and visitors.”

0 comments

The Cornhill in 1974 - photo Jerry Turner/Archant

Four decades ago Ipswich had through traffic in the town’s main shopping areas, writes David Kindred.

A 140-tonne electricity tranformer could cause traffic delays on Saturday as it slowly makes its way along the A12 in Suffolk

A 170-tonne electricity transformer the size of a bungalow is being transported along the A12 in Suffolk on Saturday.

Photo by Angela Sharpe of Ellough Park Raceway

A man in his early 60s died after being involved in a go-kart collision at a popular racetrack while celebrating his brother’s birthday.

Winners of the Stars of Suffolk Awards 2015

There are now just two days left to nominate an unsung hero from your community for a Stars of Suffolk award.

Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, celebrating with members of Pettistree church in the village pub, The Greyhound

A church is growing its congregation with a quiet contemplative service which starts in its chancel and ends in the pub next door.

A lorry has shed its load on the A14 over the Orwell Bridge

There were traffic delays on the A14 over the Orwell Bridge this afternoon after a lorry shed part of its load.

Do you know this woman? Police have released a CCTV image of a woman they want to speak to after a bank card was stolen and later used to withdraw cash in Ipswich

Police have released a CCTV image of a woman they want to speak to following the theft of a bank card which was later used to withdraw cash at various ATMs in Ipswich

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24