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Nottingham Contemporary's First Year a Complete Success with Record Visitor Figures
Nearly 300,000 people – 290,000 - have visited the gallery in its first year, a 45% increase on the projected figure of 200,000. Photo: Helene Binet.

NOTTINGHAM.- Nottingham Contemporary will celebrate its first anniversary on Sunday 14 November 2010.

Nottingham Contemporary is widely regarded as one of the most exciting galleries in the country, in or out of London - with a large local audience and a strong involvement with the concerns of its home city.

Nearly 300,000 people – 290,000 - have visited the gallery in its first year, a 45% increase on the projected figure of 200,000.

There have been over 36,000 participants in its educational activities.

The gallery has contributed £8.7 million to the local economy in its first year, according to analysts.

The gallery, housed in an iconic green and gold lace patterned building designed by Caruso St John in the city’s historic Lace Market, has generated enthusiasm from the art world and the general public alike.

· 98% of the press coverage of its exhibitions – in regional, national and international media - has been positive.

· Nearly half of its visitors come back again – and over half report that their reasons for visiting included the pursuit of a thought-provoking, creatively stimulating, moving or contemplative experience.

Highlights of the first year’s exhibition programme have included: the first survey of the early works of David Hockney for nearly 40 years; Star City: The Future Under Communism, a major exhibition inspired by science fiction and futurology under Communism, featuring many of the leading artists of the post-communist European art scene; and the current exhibition, British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet – the first time the major Hayward Touring review, held every five years, has opened in Nottingham.

Nottingham Contemporary has shown the work of over 80 artists and artist’s groups of international stature since opening. They include Turner Prize winners Steve McQueen and Wolfgang Tillmans and this year’s nominees Otolith Group, as well as artists of historical importance – and continuing contemporary relevance - such as Ilya Kabakov, the most celebrated post-War Russian artist, and Öyvind Falhström, the pioneer of geopolitical art. Artists have been at the heart of the vision of Nottingham Contemporary – even its brand contains 15 logos specially designed for the gallery by international artists.

Director Alex Farquharson has been recently listed in The Times Art Power List 2010, as among the 30 most influential people in the British art world.

Key to Nottingham Contemporary’s success has been its insistence that art is part of a much wider, potentially unlimited discussion that touches all aspects of contemporary life. The intellectual content of the artistic programme has ranged over the politics, philosophy and metaphysics of the Cold War to the global economy and the experience of migration, in Uneven Geographies. The strong aesthetic and imaginative appeal of each exhibition has acted as a point of entry for new audiences, as well as opening up new areas of knowledge for more experienced viewers.

“Our exhibitions are journeys from the familiar to the unfamiliar,” Alex Farquharson said.” “We aim to be a contemporary art centre that is locally popular and internationally respected, where people can think things differently.”

Nottingham Contemporary has also demonstrated a strong connection with education. Both of the city’s universities – the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University – are partners in its ambitious programme of talks and discussions around the ideas raised by each exhibition. Nottingham Contemporary also has a partnership of 16 City schools to help enrich education in a city with high levels of social and economic deprivation.

· Almost 80% of visitors surveyed reported having a learning experience of some kind at the gallery

· Over a third of visitors cited learning as the main reason for their visit, while 29% of those surveyed were studying in some capacity.

· Over 36,000 people have taken part in education activities, including talks, discussions, school visits or community workshops.

Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate commented: “An imaginative programme at Nottingham Contemporary, with a range of shows from Hockney to Star City, has quickly established an international reputation that far exceeds even the most optimistic expectations.”

Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “Nottingham Contemporary has been a real success story for the city, showing the enormous benefits public investment in the arts can bring. From the opening David Hockney exhibition it has been attracting new audiences with an intelligent and popular programme of contemporary art.

“It is a truly world class facility and I’m sure the exciting exhibition programme will continue to attract thousands of new visitors every year.”

Cllr Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council said: “Nottingham Contemporary is not just about Nottingham, it’s about ambition for Nottingham. Delivering this sort of investment confirms our ambition to be a world class city with all the facilities and attractions to draw in new visitors and inward investors, as well as providing a much greater cultural offer to local people.”

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