International art exhibition featuring Banksy work adds £350k to Suffolk economy

Dan Clarke, heritage officer for West Suffolk Council. He is standing in the Moments exhibition spac

The Moments art exhibition in Bury St Edmunds could have brought up to £350,000 into the local economy. Pictured is Dan Clarke, heritage officer for West Suffolk Council, who was involved in staging the art show. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A modern art exhibition which is thought to have inspired Banksy's 'spraycation' along the east coast could have brought in up to £350,000 to a town's economy - and may be staged across the UK in the future.

More than 20,000 people attended the Moments exhibition at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, while a further 900 school students visited as part of tours organised by West Suffolk Council’s heritage team.

Moments included original works by international artists such as Banksy, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Rachel List, Pure Evil and My Dog Sighs and attracted visitors from as far and wide as Cardiff, Edinburgh, Cornwall, Cumbria and the Isle of Wight.

The famous Hula-Hooping Girl by Banksy is one of the highlights at the Moments exhibition

The famous Hula-Hooping Girl by Banksy was one of the highlights at the Moments exhibition. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Over the summer, work by the mysterious street artist Banksy popped up along the Suffolk and Norfolk coast.

The exhibition's success could be far-reaching as West Suffolk Council - which runs Moyse's Hall - is currently working with City Culture Peterborough to present the exhibition in Peterborough, with the potential for it to then tour throughout the UK in 2022 onwards.

International art dealer John Brandler, of Essex-based Brandler Galleries, which supplied the majority of the exhibition artwork, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure working with the West Suffolk Council to create, package and market this truly unique exhibition.  

Moments attracted 20,000 visitors from far and wide.

Moments attracted 20,000 visitors from far and wide. - Credit: West Suffolk Council

"I am delighted the exhibition has attracted people to Bury St Edmunds from far and wide and the feedback from exhibition visitors has been delightful.  

"To attract over 20,000 visitors to the exhibition is a monumental achievement, particularly when you take into account the marketing campaign for the exhibition had to begin during lockdown without knowing if and when the exhibition would go ahead. "

Following a survey of exhibition visitors with 363 responses, the council was able to estimate the event could have contributed over £359,000 to the local economy. 

Artist Rachel List painting during the exhibition.

Artist Rachel List painting a version of 'PPE Angel' during the exhibition. - Credit: West Suffolk Council

Jo Rayner, cabinet member for Leisure and Culture at West Suffolk Council said: “It has put money into the local economy and caused huge excitement with Banksy artwork – and some imitations – popping up all across East Anglia."

The Moments exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum featured work by Banksy, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Rachel List

The Moments exhibition at Moyse's Hall Museum featured work by international artists such as Banksy, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Rachel List, Pure Evil and My Dog Sighs. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Sue Warren, brand and marketing manager of the Bury St Edmunds and Beyond, said from speaking to their accommodation providers there was "no doubt" Moments - which ran from May to October - contributed to "the bumper summer season" in the town.

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"This was a high quality and unique exhibition outside of London which featured world-renowned artists and, despite the challenges of this year, attracted people from outside the area to visit Bury St Edmunds," she said.

West Suffolk Council is now working to stage a further exhibition of international artists in 2023. 

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