Capital of Culture: Two million visitors in just four months
Apr 12 2008 by Vicky Anderson, Liverpool Daily Post
THE number of visitors to Liverpool’s cultural attractions is breaking all records as more than two million people have come to the city since the start of 2008.
Figures are almost double what the Culture Company predicted for the first quarter of Capital of Culture year.
Attendance figures for the city’s attractions are on average 30% higher than they were this time last year – twice the 10% to 15% that culture bosses had estimated. “It’s incredible, I can’t believe it,” Culture Company director Kris Donaldson told the Daily Post.
“It is just amazing to see so many people here, it is completely beyond our expectations.
“We are already seeing the change of perceptions of the city, nationally and internationally and lots of organisations and attractions are getting the benefit.
“It is already starting to pay dividends.
“It really sets the stage for the rest of the year.”
Deputy chairman Phil Redmond agreed, saying the figures were “terrific news”.
“It shows people are engaging in 2008. People almost have no excuse not to try something new.”
Christoph Grunenberg, director of Tate Liverpool, said: “The ‘Capital of Culture effect’ is already being felt – in the first three months of 08, we’ve seen a 21% visitor increase on the previous year.
“The Turner Prize 2007 took us into the year on a high and will continue throughout the year with our 20th birthday celebrations, the exhibition of work by Gustav Klimt and the Liverpool Biennial. The Tate collection display is as popular as ever, with key masterpieces, such as Rodin’s The Kiss, capturing the imagination. We’re delighted to see so many visitors are returning time and again to enjoy what we have to offer.”
Director of The Beatles Story Jerry Goldman, which has had 36% more visitors through its doors than last year, said: “We wholeheartedly support Liverpool’s Capital of Culture status and we are delighted that such an impressive number of people have chosen to experience a cultural event in the city. Liverpool has offered a fantastic welcome to its many visitors – a welcome that is unique in the entire UK.”
Millicent Jones, executive director of the Philharmonic Hall, said: “We are delighted with 2008 so far, there’s a great buzz around the city. Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and the RLPO are definitely experiencing an ‘08 factor’ with audiences up 21% from this time last year.”
Joe Edge, director of the Albert Dock Company which has attracted 120,000 extra visitors so far this year, said: “The Albert Dock Company is delighted with the increasing number of visitors coming to enjoy what this special site has to offer, and this will only get better as the Culture year continues alongside the opening of the new Liverpool One development.
“Many of the bars, restaurants and tourist destinations at the Dock have commented on increased customer numbers and as the Albert Dock turns 20 next month, we hope to see even more people visit what is Merseyside’s most popular tourist attraction.”
Iain Christie, speaking for Royal Court Liverpool, which has had nearly 45,000 more visitors than this time last year, a 57% rise, said: “We are delighted to show such a steep rise in attendance figures compared to this time last year.
“This spring we have been able to attract writers of the calibre of Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale as well as the astonishing home grown success Brick up The Mersey Tunnels.
“We have also been investing a lot in the building and the audiences seem to like what we are doing. We all hope to build on this for the rest of the year and entertain as many people as possible for the rest of 2008.”
International media coverage of the 2008 celebrations have been well received. Last week, the Wall Street Journal declared Liverpool “the new Barcelona” in a story flagged up on its front page.