Were Ex­hi­bi­tion expectations met?

COUN­CIL­LOR WANTS SOME AN­SWERS OVER SUM­MER EVENT

The Chronicle - - News - By DANIEL HOL­LAND Lo­cal democ­racy re­porter daniel.hol­land@reach­plc.com @dan­hol­land­news

AN in­de­pen­dent coun­cil­lor has called for an­swers on whether or not the Great Ex­hi­bi­tion of the North was a suc­cess.

In a ques­tion to lo­cal au­thor­ity bosses at Wed­nes­day’s New­cas­tle City Coun­cil meet­ing, Coun Marc Don­nelly asked whether the “pound for pound ex­pen­di­ture, vis­i­tor num­bers and fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits” of the cul­tural fes­ti­val had met expectations.

Ques­tions have been raised in re­cent weeks over how vis­i­tor num­bers for the 80-day ex­hi­bi­tion were cal­cu­lated, af­ter it emerged that some peo­ple sur­veyed were spo­ken to when al­ready in­side or di­rectly out­side key venues.

The ex­hi­bi­tion, which ran be­tween June and Septem­ber, in­cluded a va­ri­ety of events cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ments of the north of Eng­land at venues such as the Sage and the Great North Mu­seum: Han­cock.

In re­sponse to Coun Don­nelly’s ques­tion, the coun­cil con­firmed that a full eval­u­a­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion’s im­pact will be pub­lished in De­cem­ber.

Coun Kim McGuin­ness, cab­i­net mem­ber for cul­ture, sport and pub­lic health, said: “New­cas­tle Gateshead Ini­tia­tive are ex­pected to is­sue the fi­nal eval­u­a­tion re­port for the Great Ex­hi­bi­tion of the North in De­cem­ber.

“El­e­ments di­rectly sup­ported by New­cas­tle Coun­cil in­cluded the fam­ily expo, and cul­tural an­i­ma­tion in the city cen­tre.

“I am par­tic­u­larly proud of the fam­ily expo el­e­ment of the Great Ex­hi­bi­tion of the North, which con­sisted of a week-long se­ries of events and work­shops to en­gage young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies with the arts, de­sign and cul­ture themes of the ex­hi­bi­tion, with the aim of in­spir­ing in­ter­est in Science, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing, Arts and

Maths (STEAM).

“Ini­tial eval­u­a­tion in­di­cates at­ten­dance of 19,504, with a min­i­mum of 20% of at­ten­dees from the most de­prived wards in the city, and 83% of at­ten­dees sur­veyed in­spired to find out more about things they had learnt about through their visit.”

Coun Don­nelly said af­ter­wards that the coun­cil’s re­sponse was “no an­swer”, adding: “I think as a tax­payer, and on be­half of res­i­dents, it would be nice to know how our money is spent and to know if expectations have been met.

“At the mo­ment we are just sec­ond guess­ing it re­ally.”

Last month, coun­cil leader Nick Forbes ad­mit­ted that some com­mu­ni­ties had been left “marginalised” dur­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion.

He said that or­gan­is­ers of the cul­tural fes­ti­val made a “tac­ti­cal er­ror” by re­duc­ing com­mu­nity out­reach ini­tia­tives when BAE Sys­tems with­drew its spon­sor­ship for the event.

Thou­sands gather to watch the open­ing night of the Great Ex­hi­bi­tion of the North on New­cas­tle’s Quay­side

Coun Marc Don­nelly

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