Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre on Queen St, New Plymouth. Photo Sam Hartnett

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre on Queen St, New Plymouth. Photo Sam Hartnett

Len Lye Centre pumps $7.4m and 103 jobs into district says independent BERL report

10 Nov 2017

The Len Lye Centre has been a huge boost for the New Plymouth District economy, a new report says.

The centre brought in more than 17,000 visitors to the area from outside Taranaki just to visit the iconic gallery and this boosted GDP and generated jobs, the report from analysis firm BERL reveals.

New Plymouth District Council commissioned the report to look at the economic impact the centre was having on the district. BERL says that 34,400 people made 118,900 visits to the gallery last year.

Visitors to the district spent $7.4 million on accommodation, meals, transport, shopping and entertainment and this helped to generate $5.6m in GDP.  BERL says the expenditure from visitors was enough to generate 103 full-time equivalent jobs.

New Plymouth District Mayor Neil Holdom says while locally controversial it was clear the Len Lye Centre was generating positive profile for Taranaki, creating employment and delivering economic benefits.

“It’s positive to note the BERL report’s finding that the LLC is generating $7.4 million in visitor spend with Taranaki businesses, directly and indirectly creating around 100 jobs in New Plymouth in the process. Like it or loathe it, the LLC is a magnificent looking piece architecture and reflects our vision of Building a Lifestyle Capital. Locally, it’s the cultural hub of our district for all ages, providing education programmes for young and old, a wide range of films as well as being a popular venue for corporate hosting,” says Mr Holdom.

The centre was a hit with Taranaki people with 82 per cent of respondents from New Plymouth rating it as very good or good and 85 per cent of those from outside the district rating the venue as very good. “It is the jewel in the crown of New Plymouth,” said one respondent.

The research found half of the visitors came from Taranaki (45 per cent were New Plymouth locals and 5 per cent from Taranaki), 40 per cent were New Zealand visitors to the region and 10 per cent were international travellers.

Some 17,100 visitors travelled to the Taranaki region to see the centre. In comparison, 12,400 visitors came to the province to attend WOMAD 2017 while 4,300 visitors who went to the 2016 Taranaki Garden Festival were from outside the region.

The purpose of BERL’s research was to estimate the economic impact the Len Lye Centre had on the New Plymouth District economy, with an emphasis on the impact of visitors from outside the area. It focused on the 2016 year as this provided a full year of data.

BERL’s key findings:

- There were 118,900 visits to the Len Lye Centre in 2016.
- These visits were made by 34,400 visitors.
- An estimated 18,900 visitors were from outside of the New Plymouth District.
- There were 3,200 international visitors to the centre.
- $7.4 million of visitor expenditure was introduced into the New Plymouth District.
- An estimated $5.6 million in GDP and 103 FTEs were added to the New Plymouth District economy.

The average spending by each visitor from outside the district was just over $390.

The Len Lye Centre opened in New Plymouth in July 2015 and is the only gallery in New Zealand dedicated to a single artist.  Part of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, and designed by New Zealand architect Andrew Patterson, the Len Lye Centre building is considered a contemporary interpretation of the essence of Lye.  

It houses the collection and archive of Lye, which he decided to leave to the people of New Zealand before his death in 1980.  In addition, the Len Lye Centre has a number of display galleries, an education centre and a 62-seat cinema.  The centre was developed through the long association between the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth District Council and the Len Lye Foundation.