Yesterday I reported that FACT had recorded its 500,000th visitor since opening in Feb 2003 and I was wondering how they calculated that figure. So I asked the ever-helpful Joan Burnett (Visitor Services Manager) and here is her response..
“We use the figures generated by the infra red beam door counter on the front door – this is not fool proof as we also have a back door! It means we are probably underestimating the number of visitors through the Centre.
It would be impossible for any gallery to say exactly how many individual people come through the door – perhaps to say we’ve had 500,000 visits would be more accurate. This is pretty much the way all galleries calculate attendance and I think the most fair. Theatres can look at their ticket receipts, which is not something a gallery can do. Each time they visit, people may be using the Centre for different purposes whether it be cinema or the café or the galleries.
We have such a range of attendance – we have a very small percentage who use the Centre every day, and then a much larger constituency who come at least once a month and we still have a high percentage of first timers which is great. We know from research that we still have a long way to go before everyone in Liverpool even knows we’re here, so there’s room for growth and we certainly won’t be complacent. “
Joan goes on to say..
“I have worked in a range of arts venues both in Liverpool and elsewhere, and my own, very personal view, is that Liverpool has always had a very healthy arts attendance and a lively, engaged audience that are very quick to hold arts organisations to account – quite rightly.
For us at FACT the message is also about breaking down the resistance to new media art – bridging the gap between people’s willingness to watch TV almost reflexively and the formalisation of that process by putting screen works in galleries – we’ll get there!”