The link between commerce and the arts

News that Amazon requires the city it will choose for its second headquarters to have a good arts infrastructure is not surprising. How does Auckland rate in terms of cultural infrastructure?

News that Amazon requires the city it will choose for its second headquarters to have a good arts infrastructure is not surprising. Cities that are rich in cultural institutions attract not just tourists but also businesses since people who can afford to live where they want tend to choose places that inspire and stimulate them.

How does Auckland fare on this scale?

The international source for information about museums and art galleries is The Art Newspaper, a monthly that is published in England. It publishes annual lists of gallery and museum attendances and last year’s results were published a few weeks ago.

Art galleries throughout the world list their forthcoming shows in the paper but New Zealand galleries are rarely ever mentioned. In the April 2018 edition, Galleries in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne list their forthcoming exhibitions but there are no entries for New Zealand.

One of its annual lists records the general patronage levels of art galleries throughout the world. The Louvre topped the list last year with more than 8.1m visitors. Australia did well. These were their Galleries and their rankings:

NGV (Melbourne) 22

GOMA (Brisbane) 42

The Centre for the Living Image (Melbourne) 47

The Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney) 58

The MCA (Sydney) 76

The National Gallery of Australia (Canberra) 99

Another of its lists is the most popular exhibitions of the year. This list gives details of daily and overall patronage levels of specific art exhibitions. Art galleries in Porto, Dublin, Mantua, Malaga, Margate, Otterio, Jinju and Groningen are listed but Auckland? Wellington? Christchurch? Nothing.

The first cultural institution to feature on Trip Advisor’s list "The Top Things to do in Auckland” is Sculptureum, a venue in Matakana that opened a year ago. Other places are the Auckland Museum (29), Brick Bay Sculpture Trail (32), the Torpedo Bay Naval Museum (40) and the Auckland Art Gallery (55).

The art galleries in Christchurch and Dunedin are listed at 28 and 29 in those cities respectively.

By contrast, the two “top attractions” in Wellington are both cultural: Te Papa is No 1 and the Great War Exhibition is No 2. The City Gallery there is No 60.

Trip Advisor is only one means for ranking places but its algorithms are sensitive to many factors and it updates on a daily basis.

It is no accident that New York and London are two of the most successful commercial centres in the world. The depth and variety of the cultural institutions in those cities is unparalleled and people of commerce and tourists are drawn to them.

It would be good to see our cultural institutions getting greater international recognition since the co-relation between cultural richness, commerce and tourism is well established.

Disclaimer: Anthony Grant is the owner of Sculptureum

This is supplied content and not commissioned or paid for by NBR.

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