New ways to experience art attracting wide and diverse audiences to the Art Gallery of New South Wales
2018-19 Annual Report
29 November 2019
The Art Gallery of New South Wales continued to enjoy strong attendance in the 2018-19 financial year welcoming 1.4 million visitors to the Gallery and the Brett Whiteley Studio and an additional 135,550 to touring exhibitions across the regional NSW and Victoria.
The Gallery also attracted an increasingly wide and diverse audience with almost two thirds (61%) of its education participants coming from Western Sydney and regional NSW.
The Gallery achieved several key milestones in its major expansion, the Sydney Modern Project, including surpassing the $100 million target for philanthropic support with a total of $103.5 million raised to accompany the state government’s $244 million funding.
“This partnership is a measure of the community’s strong support for our project as well as the stellar efforts of the Campaign Committee. This generosity has set a new high-water mark for arts philanthropy in this country,” Director Dr Michael Brand said.
The Sydney Modern Project received development approval, paving the way for construction to commence. The Gallery also achieved a six-star Green Star design rating, exceeding its original five-star goal and reflecting the innovative and sensitive design by Tokyo-based Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA which will maximise and enhance green and accessible public space and set new standards for public art museums.
The Gallery continued to work with major Australian and international artists on a range of new art commissions for the opening of the Sydney Modern Project. Linked by an outdoor art garden, the Project will provide new ways of experiencing art within a unique setting melding museum, gardens and harbour.
“The Gallery’s continued transformation and expansion will be reflected not only in our physical premises, but in how we consider, present and interpret art,” Dr Brand said.
With an anticipated increase in visitation to two million people a year as well as an almost doubling of space for the display and enjoyment of art, and significant expansion of educational and public engagement activities, the Gallery will continue to grow its artistic, philanthropic, corporate and programming partnerships.
“The Gallery’s evolution and achievements are underpinned by the contributions of many,” Dr Brand added.
In the 2018-19 financial year, Art Gallery of New South Wales public engagement partners included the Sydney Festival, Force Majeure, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Vivid Sydney, Concrete Playground, Asylum Seekers Centre, Artspace, Ozanam Learning Centre, Front Up with Ability Options and universities across Sydney.
The Gallery’s director of Public Engagement, Miranda Carroll, said in 2018-19 strong community-focused programming enriched the Gallery’s Learning and Participation programs, which attracted a total of 298,794 participants.
“Coming to the Gallery immerses our visitors in dynamic and evolving experiences of art, culture and ideas. It’s also our mission to deliver meaningful and inclusive engagement to diverse communities across the state,” Ms Carroll said.
In 2018-19 several new Gallery partnership programs were designed for, by and with the community including the Createability program, a strategic partnership with Create NSW, Department of Family and Community Services, and Accessible Arts, providing a paid Gallery internship to an arts worker with disability.
In 2018-19 the Gallery’s flagship Art After Hours program continued to grow, attracting 57,650 attendees on Wednesday evenings after 5pm. Faboriginal, a ‘deadly art game show’ hosted by comedian Steven Oliver, was a highlight of Art After Hours. The program featured celebrity contestants and attracted a large and diverse audience, creating a fun and lively atmosphere for discussing Indigenous art, culture and ideas. Following the success of the program, the concept has been developed into a television show in partnership with Noble Savage Pictures and NITV.
The Gallery also devised an exciting new take on programs for children and families, the Fo Fum Fiesta, which was held in the spring school holidays of 2019. Incorporating a mix of live music from kids’ bands, artist-led workshops, unconventional drawing activities, storytelling, performance and artist-curated kids flicks, the initiative also included tours led by children for children.
The Gallery developed innovative digital learning resources to accompany its flagship regional arts education program Home: Aboriginal art from New South Wales. Linked to the Department of Education curriculum, the Home program provided enriching art education across regional centres stretching from Albury to Tamworth.
The Gallery’s Art Pathways Plus program developed partnership programs with Campbelltown Arts Centre and Blacktown Arts Centre, while new arts and health initiatives included a palliative care professional education and arts engagement partnership with Palliative Care NSW and the City of Sydney.
The ever-popular Archibald Prize attracted 919 entries – an all-time record – while the Young Archie exhibition doubled in size in 2019, reflecting the significance of the competition among Australia’s youngest budding portraitists.
Ongoing volunteer support provided visitors to the Gallery with quality interpretation of exhibitions and assistance with learning and participation programs. Over 247 volunteer guides and Art Gallery Society task force members provided more than 24,000 hours of volunteer service to the Gallery.
During the past financial year, the Gallery added 730 artworks from 83 Australian artists including 26 Indigenous artists, and 91 international artists. The Gallery purchased 219 works valued at a total of over $4.5 million, and 511 works valued at over $7.7 million were gifted with the support of generous benefactors.
The 2018-19 financial year saw the Gallery continue to present a diverse range of major exhibitions, including seven ticketed exhibitions. Audiences were able to view works never seen before in Australia through exhibitions ranging from Chinese treasures in Heaven and earth in Chinese art, to a major survey of Marcel Duchamp to modern masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
The Gallery appointed Australia’s first time-based art conservator who provides state of the art care for innovative contemporary digital art forms, while the investment in new spectrometer scanning equipment enabled the Gallery to conduct technology-based analysis of art works to better conserve the state’s collection.
Online engagement continued to grow in the past financial year with growth in followers of 21% on YouTube; 26% on Instagram and 6% on Facebook. There were over 3.4 million visits to the Gallery’s website, with 2.8 million users viewing 13.6 million individual pages. The Gallery developed innovative exhibition audio experiences as well as establishing its first digital preservation policy.
In 2018-19 the Gallery’s regional touring program enabled new audiences from across NSW and Australasia to experience the Gallery’s collection, exhibitions and programs. Five touring exhibitions across nine museums and galleries in NSW and Victoria were seen by over 135,550 people. Of these, more than half (71,255) were in regional NSW.
Many of these were in remote centres including Broken Hill and Moree, reflecting the Gallery’s targeted efforts to extend access to important exhibitions to regional galleries of all sizes. Work also began on a new five-year plan for touring exhibitions including scoping opportunities for international touring.
This year marked the launch of the Fearless program, a gender equity initiative which raises funds for the conservation and display of works by women artists, while providing business development opportunities for women.
Speaking at the launch, Art Gallery deputy director and director of collections, Maud Page said, “Here at the Gallery we applaud both women and men who understand the importance of equal respect and recognition – in the home, in our schools, in the workplace and social environments.”
The corporate sponsorship program achieved cash and in-kind support of $7.707 million for the Gallery in 2018-19, improving its financial position and enabling the Gallery to present inspiring exhibitions, programs and initiatives. These organisations share the Gallery’s commitment to the vibrancy of culture in Sydney and are a vital part of its vision for the future.
Together all the Gallery’s partners, supporters and staff are ensuring new and existing audiences have unprecedented access to the enrichment of art.
*Overall visitation of 1,500,174 million across the Domain site, Brett Whiteley Studio and regional touring sites. Domain site (1,349,386); Brett Whiteley Studio (15,238) and regional touring (135,550).