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Monday, 15 July, 2002, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Crowds cram into Baltic
Tha Baltic
More than 5,000 people queued on the opening night
The opening of the 46m Baltic contemporary arts centre in Gateshead has already to begun to help regenerate Tyneside, it is claimed.

More than 12,000 people have visited the free venue - inside a former flour mill - since it opened at 0001 BST on 13 July.

Mick Henry, leader of Gateshead Borough Council said the Baltic was proof the North East of England can be regenerated through the arts.

Paul Collard, chairman of Northern Arts, said the Baltic was already attracting tourists from outside the region.

The Baltic, Gateshead
The Baltic opened to the public on 13 July

Among the attractions at the centre is a 31ft replica of the Tyne Bridge, made from Meccano, and rows of large gongs that people are encouraged to hit.

About 5,000 people queued for the opening, where they were allowed three hours to look around before the gallery was shut and reopened to the public later on Saturday morning.

Mr Henry said: "We have to accept the traditional jobs associated with Tyneside like shipbuilding and mining have gone.

'Exceptional quality'

"We have to look for other things and we think we have proved we can regenerate our economy through culture."

Mr Collard said: "Art does lead to the regeneration of an area if you do it right.

"Bad art doesn't get you anywhere. But if you develop projects of exceptional quality it achieves economic regeneration.

"This region hugely under-performs in terms of the visitors it draws in from the outside.

Culture capital

"Art is really going to help it meet its potential for doing that."

The Baltic - housed inside the old Rank Hovis mill - is expected to play a major part in the joint Newcastle/Gateshead bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008.

The Baltic is described as an "art factory" rather than a gallery because it has studios as well as exhibition spaces.

There will be no permanent collection in the centre and it is designed to be somewhere that people can create art as well as see it.


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

11 Jul 02 | Entertainment
11 Jul 02 | England
11 Jul 02 | England
17 May 02 | UK
25 Jan 02 | England
03 Apr 01 | Entertainment
12 Oct 01 | Entertainment
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