Maitland gallery an artist hit

COFFEE and kids are a winning combination for Maitland’s Regional Art Gallery.

Gallery cultural director Joe Eisenberg said strong attendance figures – almost 31,000 from April to September – shows one of the region’s newest regional galleries has struck a rich visitation vein.

‘‘Mums with prams,’’ explained Mr Eisenberg.

There are queues outside the gallery entrance, especially on Tuesday and Thursday, when the education classes for children are held, Mr Eisenberg said.

The young families who come to take advantage of the gallery’s innovative education program have led to an increase of between  10 and 13per cent  in crowds compared with a similar time last year, said Mr Eisenberg.

‘‘It is what we are doing with education.’’ 

The gallery conducts  workshops for children from two up to young adults of 18 years of age.

‘‘Some galleries focus on one group of people, but our demographic is different.

‘‘We are a [comparatively] small  community and we are trying to hit at all levels.

‘‘Once people are inside they feel comfortable and will probably go to a gallery in Bali or Newcastle or Lake Macquarie.’’ 

The gallery’s cafe has become a popular meeting place for people from all walks of life and there’s a wide range of Hunter artists’ work on sale.

The bigger the crowds the easier it is to attract direct and indirect finance for the gallery’s ‘‘masters’’ at the state government and  city council, Mr Eisenberg said.  ‘‘Galleries are about numbers. Our masters want to know it’s being used,’’ he said.

‘‘The more people, the more money, the more we can bring to the gallery.’’       

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