West calls 'lies' on Len Lye Centre visitor numbers

Len Lye Centre critic Morris west has said the art museum's visitor numbers are "lies."
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ

Len Lye Centre critic Morris west has said the art museum's visitor numbers are "lies."

Prominent Len Lye Centre critic Morris West has queried the art museum's latest visitor numbers, accusing those in command of "lying" in an attempt to meet key performance indicators.

In the five weeks since it opened near 30,000 people had visited the multi-million dollar art hub, with nearly 14,000 in its first week of operation.

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Len Lye Centre clocks in 30,000 visitors in first month

But West has done the calculations and based on the infrequent activity he has allegedly observed from his office window, situated opposite the gallery, he has refuted the figures.

"I think they're lying, and I think they're quite openly lying," he said.

Gallery director Simon Rees took exception to West's claims.

"I'm really angry," he said.

Rees had spent more than $30,000 of his "independently fundraised" budget to ensure visitor figures were correct.

But West said there was no way the total number of bodies to visit the centre would even come close to the suggested figure.

To achieve this number West worked out about 1000 people would need to have visited the centre per day, based on an average of eight opening hours a day, six days a week.

"That means every minute there has to be two people going though those doors - every minute."

Throughout his working day West kept a discerning eye on the gallery's foot traffic and he has never caught sight of these continual arrivals, he said.

He further questioned the centre's opening weekend figures.

Based on the suggested number of guests through the door there should have been long queues, he said.

"Sorry, that could not even be close because that would represent lines out the door both days. I drove past there probably four times that weekend and there was never a line."

West questioned the effectiveness of the centre's method used to collate figures, done by way of electronic people counters strategically placed around the museum.

He claimed employees of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre were being included in the computed number, as well as centre regulars being counted at their every visit.

West said the art group had key performance indicators (KPIs) to meet, centre objectors to prove wrong and backers to make good.

Rees said West's claims were unsubstantiated.

At any one time employees behind the foyer's counter, roving staff members and three electronic people counters placed throughout the building were tracking visitor numbers.

Rees said two more electronic counters would be installed in November.

"I robustly invested so these claims couldn't be made," he said.

Daily, weekly and monthly reports detailing the number of people to enter and exit the building as well as transition between the two galleries were provided to Rees.

He said, once inside, there was no chance people would be counted more than once.

"The figures we are supplying are categorical and correct, I have absolute faith."

There was a chance, however, that staff would be included in the total tally-up, he said.

"You could say there could would be between eight and 13 counts a day from people going to the bloody loo or for their lunch break.

"But that's why we have our manual counters too."

Earlier in the year a report provided by New Zealand's Business and Economic Research Limited estimated a total of 96,000 visitors would come through the combined facility in its first year.

This would mean, based on a 51-hour working week, the centre would need to see about 36 people through the doors every hour.

Rees, who was happy to offer up any electronic data, said the centre was well on its way to meeting annual KPIs and he had no reason to fudge the numbers.

 - Stuff

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