Who are our visitors?
21.02.2022 @ Cristina Stoenescu
For the first diary entry in this series, I would like to describe the profile of exhibition visitors in ARAC projects, especially as I have been working in the Bucharest context for six years now. It is surprising how much has changed in a relatively short period of time, how much the contemporary art scene has developed, and thus the number of visitors. In 2016, most of the people arriving on the gallery’s doorstep were artists themselves, or otherwise involved in the contemporary art world – so a relatively small number. Especially in the last couple of years, in the post-pandemic context, we see a change in the preferences of the local public, mainly due to the lack of cultural opportunities in venues such as theatres and cinemas. Increasingly, I am seeing parents working in different fields bringing their children aged 10 to 17 to see an art exhibition. It is very important in this process to be able to guide new visitors into the art space, to present artistic approaches and thus bring together an audience that is usually hesitant about contemporary art.
If six years ago the average number of visitors outside the opening event (which always gathered 150-200 people), we estimated one visitor per week, now, between 2021 and 2022, we have recorded an average of almost 15 people visiting our space on Popa Soare 26, weekly. Factors contributing to this significant increase are: online communication to groups outside the local artist scene, (without neglecting this specific target group though), recruitment of volunteers from among students (because they always bring their friends with them), a constant and comprehensive schedule of visiting hours (we always have an open schedule of Monday – Saturday, morning to evening), a custodian/curator to provide information when requested, or at least a minimal introduction to the artistic theme approached in the exhibition.
At the beginning of our Public Exhibition campaign, we will try to pay particular attention to audiences in the old neighborhood in the Mantuleasa area, to postcard invitations (postcards), to the direct interaction with local small businesses in the neighborhood, and to the nearby working staff of local cafes and restaurants, shops, who are already part of an organically created community.