Friday, December 06, 2013

By the numbers: Venice 2013

Creative New Zealand announced yesterday that 218,000 people had visited the Bill Culbert exhibition over its six and a half month run at the Venice Biennale. Given that it also reports 14,000 of these people came in the first week alone, that’s 1,250 a day for every single day of the following 163 days. To put that into perspective, it’s over twice the number of people who go to regional galleries like the City Gallery Wellington, the Dowse Art Museum and the Govett-Brewster in a full year.

How do they count these people? As it happened we know as we visited the Culbert exhibition and saw the staff member at the door recording everyone who stepped inside. At one second per visitor that’s over 60 hours of work just there.

NZ’s 218,000 total tops Australia’s Simryn Gill presentation (in the Giardini and therefor subject to ticket sales) by 18,000 visitors and means that nearly half (45.9 percent) of the total visitors who attended the Biennale (475,000) went to the New Zealand pavilion. This hopefully also included half of the 4,655 journalists representing the foreign press.

The only other comparative stats we could find on the CNZ site for New Zealand at Venice was that 114,000 people visited the two exhibitions (Upritchard 21,642and Millar 92,914) in 2009.
The takeaway? Location, location, location. A prime spot on the promenade leading to the Giardini not only hooks in Biennale visitors but also gets the added values of tourists doing the stroll thing along the Riva degli Schiavoni from the Bridge of Sighs.