Monday, 8 February 2010

Margate and the Turner Contemporary April Fool.

The trust that is to take over running The Turner Contemporary on April fools day are to receive at least a million pounds a year from Kent County Council towards the gallery’s £2.6 million pounds annual running costs.

As I said in yesterdays post it’s a substantial amount and having slept on this information I can only conclude I have made some mistake with the arithmetic, I would appreciate it if someone could correct me.

My understanding is that the gallery is expected to attract 160,000 visitors a year, this seems quite a lot to me as this would about 400 a day if the gallery opened every day of the year, but let that pass for a moment.

If the annual running costs are to be £2.6 million that is about £16 per visit, obviously no one will have to pay to visit the gallery, if they did virtually no one would visit it.

Looking at it another way every visitor to the gallery is going to cost the Kent council taxpayer over £5.

It may have just been me but on the occasions that I have visited the exhibitions that they put on in the old M&S building and the Droit House there have either been very few other people there or no one but myself.

Let us suppose that only 100 people a day visit the new gallery this would cost £64 per visitor, with the council picking up the tab for the amount that couldn’t be obtained from other sponsors.

I am sure that I must have made some sort of mistake here, I know that there is an element of the emperor’s new clothes to the world of contemporary art but I don’t think this can be right.

Margate Marine Bathing Pool Walk from Hugh Kermode on Vimeo.

I have added this video as the Turner Contemporary are seeking participants in an artwork that they are sponsoring next month and I thought it would interest some of the readers of this post.

Here is the link to the page about this particular artwork on the Turner Contemporary site particularly interesting to me as it has the link to the video I have embedded above on it.

Now when I embedded it, it had been viewed between 0 and 2 times a day for the last week, in the hour since I embedded it, it has had a further 6 views.

This says two things about the Turner Contemporary, one being that far fewer people are looking at their website than this one and whoever added the video to their site didn’t seem to know how to embed a video so just added a link.


  1. Like you I a concerned and think there are better ways we could spend our money, good spot, hope soeone can clarify. I think the projected visitors are wildly optimistic.

  2. I can't see them attracting that many visitors specifically to the gallery, but I'l ltake another viewpoint here and say that if it attracts people to the gallery and the town with the possibility of kick-starting Margate then it will be worth the money.

    It's worth noting that this isn't my actual view but I decided to be optimistic and hope for the best in this post.

  3. you have got to take in account that in the winter they will be lucky to get 10 visitors a day,i suppose that some schools will try visiting at least once a year just in case they do get something worth looking at,but i am not holding my breath.

  4. Concerned residentFebruary 08, 2010 2:02 pm

    Hopefully it won't just be art but also some displays of local history or maritime objects like the coins and other objects Beachcomber Tony collects everywhere. These would be of more interest to local people especially if the museum remains closed

  5. One things for sure, neither TDC or KCC will tell you how many visitors they are getting. They will wheel out the "commercially sensitive" excuse. Send in your FOI now to give them time to prepare!

  6. I'm currently looking for sponsorship for Naked in Thanet, I wonder if it's worth me dropping them a line?

  7. I agree, I'm afraid to say that I can't see the volumes of vistors they hope to expect. Firstly, there isn't anything else in Margate, secondly there is still no direct fast train link to Margate and thirdly they are going to have to have some really good exhibitions to attract anything near the numbers they antipicate.

    It worries me that people with such inexperience are allowed such a large budget!

  8. I don't see the lack of a direct fast train link as much of an issue as I don't think it's going to attract many Londoners anyway (they have bigger & better art galleries there!). But it's beyond belief that so much money is being ploughed into this when visitor information centres & public toilets are closing down.

  9. Michael I as you know am very pro the gallery and I too am sceptical of the figure, but having looked on google for tate st ives visitor figure came up with if my math is correct:- 549 per day for first ten years which was roughly double the estimated figures. I hope its a success and given those sort of figures cant see why it wont be. I know we are living in a different financial world from when these figures were released but all I will say is have you ever been to Saint Ives?

  10. Tate St Ives is not lacking a source for its exhibits nor other attractions in the area like the Eden project.

    Tate St Ives entrance fee Only £5.75 £3.25 concessions

  11. Here's a thought, once the Turner Centre has proved to be a money pit and can no longer be sustained through KCC or local TDC funding, it could be converted into a Sea Life centre - Brighton's Sea Life centre attracts over 250,000 visitors a year...

  12. Better still, turn it into a public toilet. It will soon be unique in the area and will attract visitors from all over Thanet.

  13. Wow! These group walks are fantastic art. I guess I must be an artist because I went for a a walk with my family last weekend!

  14. I'm looking for sponsorship for my blog too. At £64 a visit, I could be looking at around £40K a day!

  15. Well seeing we have had a director of the gallery for the last 10 years I am sure the problem is covered. There are probably hoards of people waiting to zip over the channel on the Euro ferries fast craft once the gallery is open.

  16. I like the headline but you should replace " turner contemporary april" with Thanet District Council which would nicely give you "Margate and the Thanet District Council Fools."

  17. Never in the field of Thanet conflict have so many been fooled by so few for so long.

  18. You shouldn't call TDc fools they made £7,500 by not passing on the VAT reductions that were put in place by the government to encourage the economy. TDC finance department knows better than the chancellor and feels quite happy gainsaying the elected government.

    Thank you for your communication received on 18/01/2010 where you requested information about the cost to Thanet District Council of not passing on the VAT increase
    The cost to the Council of not passing on the VAT increase for this period is estimated to be £21.5k. However, as most of the Council's charges are shown as being inclusive of VAT, the previous reduction in VAT rate from 17.5% to 15% was also not passed on which saved the Council £29k. The net effect of the VAT changes is therefore a saving to the Council of £7.5k.

  19. I wrote to them last night requesting funding for Naked in Thanet, & got a lengthy & polite response this morning! They said "No", but the fact that they bothered replying was very gratifying, & I wish them lots of good luck for the future (they're probably going to need it...).

  20. I think the thing that struck me the most about this is the general lack of interest in the art projects that they are actually engaged in, normally the people engaged in this sort of thing are very reluctant to release any statistics, no counter for instance on the Turner Contemporary’s website

    However the Hamish Fulton Kent Walk page on their website does have a link to the video about it and the site where the video is hosted does have a counter.

    From my own web statistics I can tell 259 people looked at this blog yesterday and from the site where the video is hosted 28 of them actually watched the video, this may not sound a lot but compared to the number of people who watched it by clicking on the link on the Turner Contemporary’s site it is a colossal amount.

    Assuming that some of the traffic came from elsewhere search engines, the people who put the video up and the artist it would seem unlikely that the link on the gallery’s website is generating more than one visitor a day.

    Don just a thought here I don’t think you can’t really use the Tate St Ives for comparison, the whole situation both with the town and the gallery is completely different.

    This is really about organisations set up with huge public funding to regenerate places with problems like Margate trying to give them solutions appropriate to other towns.

    Peter every local artist I know of that has tried has had a similar response.

  21. Their response is an improvement to the last time I wrote to them about two years ago, as back then they didn't even bother replying.

    I don't have visitor numbers for my website, but there's a (public) record for how many times each photo has been viewed, & some of these number over 15,000 in 2 & 1/2 years.

  22. Sorry Don meant to say, don’t think you can.

    Well Peter I noticed you put some videos on youtube in the last couple of weeks and they have all got considerably more viewings than the one about walking around the bathing pool.

    So perhaps this is about some form of elitism, by that I mean that unless your work appeals to an elite enough – small enough – minority you won’t get grant funding for it.

  23. I forgot about that video, over 300 views in under two weeks isn't bad. I've just written a Blog Post about my frustrations at trying to get a little funding for what is after all one of the more popular Thanet-based art projects.


Please note comments that may be libellous, comments that may be construed as offensive, anonymous derogatory comments about real people, comments baiting internet trolls, comments saying that an anonymous comment was made by a named real person, boring comments and spam comments, comments in CAPs will be deleted. Playground stuff like calling real people by their time stamp or surname alone, referring to groups as gangs, old duffers and so on will result in deletion. Comment that may be construed as offensive to minority groups is not allowed here either, so think before you write it, remember that the internet is a public place, that it is very difficult to be truly anonymous and that everyone who uses it leaves a trail of some sort. Also note the facility to leave anonymous comment will be turned of during periods when I am unable to monitor comment, this will not affect people commenting who are signed on to their blogger accounts. When things are particularly difficult on the commercial spam front I may turn comment moderation on for periods.

If you feel that someone has left a comment that is offensive and directed at you personally please email me (link on the sidebar) asking to have it removed, you will need to tell which post and the date and timestamp of the offending comment. Please do not reply to the offending comment as I will assume you continuing the dialogue as meaning that you want the comments left there.