Hayward Reports Record Breaking British Art Show Figures

The highly respected, Hayward gallery organised, touring exhibition, British Art Show 7, has been the most successful to date.  In the Days of the Comet which closed in Plymouth on 4 December 2011 has attracted the highest attendance figures in its 32-year history. Declared the ‘best British Art Show ever’ by The Guardian and ArtLyst, the exhibition attracted a total of 425,000 visits during its 15-month run across 12 venues in Nottingham, London, Glasgow and Plymouth. The venues hosted an extensive public programme of 53 artist-led events, including a 24-hour screening of Christian Marclay’s The Clock in each of the four cities. Launched in 1979 and organised every five years by the Hayward Gallery as part of the Hayward Touring programme, the British Art Show is widely recognised as the most ambitious and influential exhibition of contemporary British art. This year the exhibition, featuring work by 39 artists, was curated by Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton and subtitled ‘In the Days of the Comet’.  It was the first time it had been presented at the Hayward Gallery since 1990.
Roger Malbert, Head of Hayward Touring, said: “The steady increase in attendance figures for the British Art Show reflects the growth of interest in contemporary art across Britain, and the professionalism and commitment of regional galleries: the exhibition is highly collaborative and its success depends on the concerted efforts of many people, starting with the artists. We are delighted that so many of them contributed new work to this British Art Show, which looked as fresh at its final showing in Plymouth as it did at the first.”
Alex Farquharson, Director, Nottingham Contemporary said “Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Castle and New Art Exchange were delighted to launch BAS7 in Nottingham. Having such an important exhibition open in Nottingham – particularly with London being on the tour itinerary for the first time in many years – was recognition of the excellent visual arts ecology and infrastructure Nottingham now has. The exhibition was an intelligent, original and engaging snapshot of much of the most vibrant developments in the visual arts in the UK at this moment. It was clearly both a popular and critical success.”
Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery said “British Art Show 7 is an incredible snapshot of contemporary British art and I’m delighted that London audiences responded so enthusiastically to the exhibition’s return to the Hayward Gallery.”
Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “Since the British Art Show was last staged in Glasgow as part of the 1990 European Capital of Culture programme the city has become the leading centre of contemporary art in the UK outside London. We were delighted to host British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet and to show work in three of the city’s leading galleries. It has proved to be one of the most popular contemporary exhibitions of recent times.”
Professor David Coslett, Chair of the Plymouth Visual Arts Consortium, said: “Without a doubt, the energy, enthusiasm and support for British Art Show 7 in Plymouth has been immense and all of our organisations, and our people, have worked tirelessly to bring it all together.  Plymouth has never hosted a cross-venue arts event of this size and scale and the experience has shown not only that the city can do it, but can do it exceedingly well.  The initial figures show that we have made the impact we were seeking and that the appetite for the understanding of contemporary art of this level is significant.”

                                                                                                                                                                        Attendance Figures 2005 – 2011

British Art Show 7 (2010-11) Nottingham, London, Glasgow & Plymouth                                              425,000

British Art  Show 6 (2005-6)          Gateshead, Manchester, Nottingham & Bristol                                  357,000
British Art Show  5 (2000)              Edinburgh, Southampton, Cardiff & Birmingham                              200,000
British Art Show 4 (1995-6)           Manchester, Edinburgh & Cardiff                                                     258,000
British Art Show 3 (1990)               Glasgow, Leeds & London                                                             77,000
British Art Show 2 (1984)               Birmingham, Edinburgh, Sheffield & Southampton                          160,000
British Art Show 1 (1979)               Sheffield, Newcastle & Bristol                                                        77,000

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