Were Exhibition expectations met?
COUNCILLOR WANTS SOME ANSWERS OVER SUMMER EVENT
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
“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