Attracting visitors

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Why does the Tower of London attract and not some regional attractions?

Why does the Tower of London attract and not some regional attractions?

Why do we go to visit attractions, galleries and museums? The old adage that if you give what people want they will go is true. Marketing helps, Pizazz helps but if there isn’t something that will appeal little can be done to attract us, the visitor.

There was  a debate in the House of Commons about regional funding for culture and the arts. Forget for a moment that MP played to their constituencies by trying to list as many local projects as possible and that no-one seems to know how much is spent in the regions as opposed to London as a percentage of the whole and just look at why you visit places. Again, we – the visitor – are the vital element that MP’s totally failed to consider in the debate.

Paul Blomfield, a Sheffield MP who initiated the debate, pointed out that a million people had visited Museums Sheffield and 440,000 people had visited the theatres there. Good. Obviously those institutions put on something we wished to see. Maybe grants should be based on the number of people visiting museums, galleries and attractions? It’s no good him saying that Sheffield has the highest numbers of practising artists per capita outside London and more galleries are needed if their art doesn’t attract visitors? If it does surely galleries will support them. And if there aren’t the galleries, as he suggests, they will spring up to take advantage of the market ie visitor interest.

To claim, as he does, that In 2011-12, 90% of all private giving to the arts by individual philanthropists was to London-based organisations may be true but why don’t they support his local organisations? Why are they and visitors drawn to London?

Many MP’s contributing to the debate pointed out that London institutions sent exhibitions “on the road” so the regions can see them. Maybe since the London attractions can stage and receive such flag-waving exhibitions they should be duty bound to send that exhibition to each of the regions as part of them receiving grants. Helen Goodman, a shadow culture minister moaned that the major museums in London had no partner museums in the East Midlands? Whose fault is that? Have any museums in the East Midlands approached them?

In Scotland, there is a magnificent collection, the Burrell, but visitors have dropped from a million 20 years ago to just a quarter of that last year. Why aren’t we visiting the Burrell? The same should be asked of all institutions? They want £45 million to refurbish the building. Is that justified when smaller venues could do so much with a portion of that?

The debate went on-and-on. As I said before, what we- the visitor –want wasn’t discussed. It’s no good having anything if people don’t want to go there. Shouldn’t MP’s start with that premise?  And then ask why the organisations can’t attract people. Incompetence, competition, bad marketing, bad display work; there can be any number of reasons. Until that is decided they might as well preserve their voices for something they do know about.

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