Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Numbers Game


Galleries and artistic venues that receive public funding usually have to justify their existence by proving that what they do is of some interest to the public.  It is, after all, that same public who provide the funding via their taxes so, I suppose it is only fair.

In order  to provide this proof galleries need to count heads, persuade people to sign visitors books and have  external evaluations and assessments done. The upside to this interminable bureacracy, which gobbles up time for gallery staff that could perhaps be more creatively employed, is that I now know that an estimated 6,380 people visited Walford Mill Crafts during the 6 weeks that "Urban baskets tradition recycled" was on compared with 2,796 during the same period last year. I have also seen a copy of  the visitors book (2 pages are pictured  above) and the "Artistic Assessment" by the Arts Council  all of which I was delighted to discover are very, very positive. In many ways I see myself more as a performer and educator  rather than as a merchant so applause, when it happens, is precious and is what  inspires me to continue.

Today the exhibition has been taken by van to North Wales where it will not be unpacked until mid January. It would have been nice if it could have gone to another venue in between but it wasn't easy finding venues that were prepared to host it. Recently it has become very difficult for artists/makers to find spaces in Britain that will support solo shows but these shows are very important because they allow us and others the space to reflect on our practise, which in turn enables us to move forward.Walford Mill Crafts is an exemplar in difficult times and if the attendance figures and visitor responses mean anything then I am relieved that the risk they took would appear to have paid off.

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