Great Exhibition of the North success figures go public

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A full evaluation of the Great Exhibition of the North has been released to the public in celebration of its success.

The evaluation has been produced to understand the impact of the Exhibition in relation to its original ambitions. The report covers the 80-day exhibition content that was presented in 30 venues and outdoor spaces across NewcastleGateshead. It also highlights achievements across all aspects of the Exhibition including: the large-scale opening and closing events, the schools’ programme, Northern Powerhouse Business Summit and business support activities, the Get North Family Expo, volunteer progamme and the “Inspired by Programme” which saw events and activities brought to life across the wider North.

Results show that the Exhibition exceeded its targets which were based around three key themes: audience, pride and perceptions.

  • Audience: Smashing its target of three million, the Exhibition attracted visits of 3.8 million across 300 events, performances, installations and activities spanning 80 days.

  • Pride: 85% of local residents said they felt proud to have the Exhibition in NewcastleGateshead

  • Perceptions: 84% of visitors said they would recommend NewcastleGateshead to friends and relatives, and 90% felt that the Exhibition had changed perceptions.

Sarah Stewart, Chief Executive of the Exhibition’s lead delivery partner, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said:

“Seeing the final evaluation has provided us with much to celebrate and we’re delighted with the results.

“It’s been an incredibly exciting project to work on and we have all been overwhelmed by the generosity of our partners, volunteers and colleagues who have shown immense passion and dedication throughout.

“And seeing ‘Inspired By’ events such as the eight-week ‘Great Northumberland’ project take off has shown just how far-reaching the programme has been.

“The qualitative feedback was especially heart-warming to read, with one of my favourite comments coming from a visitor who, since engaging with the Exhibition, took their six-year-old to the Boston Science Museum in the US. Upon seeing a museum sign saying ‘Innovation’ the little girl said, ‘that’s what we do in Gateshead’. For me, that kind of feedback is invaluable.”

Michael Ellis, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism said:

“The Great Exhibition of the North was a real success, with almost four million visitors and hundreds of exciting events held across the whole North.

“As well as the obvious tourism boost, these figures highlight real pride felt by the people of Newcastle-Gateshead at hosting the event.

“It was an excellent celebration of the North’s creativity and I look forward to seeing how the city and region builds on the legacy of last summer.”

Gateshead Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, Councillor Angela Douglas said:

“The enthusiasm and pride for the North East is clear for everyone to see in this report. The range of events, performances and activities over the 80 days of the Great Exhibition of the North was staggering and certainly captured the imagination of the many children and young people who took part. Events like this are about inspiring future generations and NewcastleGateshead once again showcased the art of the possible.”

Cllr Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport and public health, Newcastle City Council said: “There was a genuine positive feeling in the city this summer, and that is reflected in this report.

“Personally, the highlight of the Exhibition for me was the Family Expo.  As a council our hope was always that local people engaged with this and young people were inspired. So, seeing local children from all backgrounds being excited by science, innovation, art and culture at the Expo will long live in my memory.”

While the core Exhibition is now over, a strong legacy still exists, with many new partnerships formed, school resources still digitally available and a significant volunteer programme set to evolve. Additionally, funding grants and research partnership opportunities are open to SMEs in the North East through the GX Project – a strand of the Exhibition designed to unlock innovation in the region.

View the full evaluation report.

Find out more about the  GX funding opportunities here. 


For media enquiries contact:

Lucy Nichol
Head of Marketing and Communications
+44 (0)191 440 5739
M. +44 (0)7771 967032


Finlay Magowan
Media and PR Manager
T: 0191 440 5777

Notes to editors:

About the research

  • The evaluation was delivered by independent agencies, coordinated by NewcastleGateshead Initiative and validated by colleagues from Newcastle City Council; Northumbria University and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
  • Key tools used to measure the impact of the Exhibition were: The Sustainable Tourism Research Intelligence Partnership Economic Impact Model; Northern Voice Research Community; Panelbase Research Community; visitor surveys; depth interviews; media evaluation; social media monitoring; footfall counts; app data; Family Expo evaluation and the school visit survey.
  • Read the  full research methodology here.


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