Visitation to this year’s Archibald Prize exhibition injected a benefit of nearly $6.5 million into Ballarat’s community, according to city leaders.
Deputy mayor Mark Harris said the exhibition’s 59,000 visitors also had a wider regional economic impact of $12 million.
“In terms of numbers, it’s just massive. If you had an event at a stadium with 15,000, we’ve got four or five times that have attended,” he said.
Cr Harris said the City of Ballarat was already planning to capitalise on the momentum of the exhibition, with 2017’s Season of the Arts headlining event, Romancing the Skull.
“It might be a new audience, it might be a bit more confronting, but in reality I think people are now used to coming down from town and from the region to see these types of events.”
Visit Ballarat chair Serena Eldridge said the city was also hoping to maintain the momentum with 2017’s White Night and Ballarat International Foto Biennale events.
“From Visit Ballarat’s point of view, we’re looking at things like accommodation, how we’re going to cope with the numbers that are coming into town, what are the options for people coming into town...we’re looking to maximise every opportunity,” she said.
Ms Eldridge said the Archibald Prize had been a fantastic Season of the Arts centrepiece over the past two years.
“We’ve seen over 20,000 overnight stays in Ballarat as a direct result of this campaign...which is just brilliant and it really highlights why we need these kind of events in Ballarat. It not only brings benefit to tourism operators but also to the wider community as well.”
Art Gallery of Ballarat director Gordon Morrison said he predicted the gallery could one day top the almost 60,000 figure experienced at this year’s Archibald Prize exhibition.
“You could never predict, I daresay we could top those figures but the Archies is its own unique phenomenon. But I would predict that in future times, we could easily top 60,000 with a show here,” he said.