The Atkinson Joins The Million Club

The Atkinson Joins The Million Club

Major milestone passed as second birthday beckons

The Atkinson, Southport’s home for the arts, culture and heritage is celebrating a major milestone as it approaches its second birthday.

Over a million people have now visited the Sefton Council run venue since it opened in May 2013. Between them they have purchased over 80,000 tickets, attended over 700 events and quaffed almost 60,000 cups of tea and coffee.

Highlights of the past two years have included Simon Callow’s one man play The Man Jesus (October 2014), side-splitting stand up from TV comedians Rich Hall, Henning Wehn and Adam Hills and recent show from folk gods Steeleye Span. An LS Lowry and Theodore Major exhibition earlier this year was attended by over 20,000 art lovers during its 10 week run.

Folk music is perhaps at the heart of The Atkinson and so it was apt when this Valentine’s weekend saw over 200 people enjoy the complex’s first Love Folk festival. The popularity of the event, which welcomed legendary acts including Oysterband and 3 Daft Monkeys, means that plans are already underway for a 2016 return.

Always with its finger on the pulse, in early 2013, The Atkinson put on a little known contemporary jazz act called Go Go Penguin. Fast forward a year and the North West trio find themselves Mercury Prize-nominated and courted by much larger venues.

In addition to hosting big name acts, The Atkinson has also engaged thousands of school children from across Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire. In November over 100 Sefton students took up residency in the building for Kids in Museum’s Takeover Day, whilst last May, 140 scouts and their leaders attended an educational sleepover, gaining badges and friends along the way.

Sefton’s award-winning arts and health initiative Creative Alternatives has continued to operate from the building as a national model of good practice for work with those with mild to moderate mental health needs and older people. This pioneering work now also benefits those with a range of other conditions including autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, physical ill health or a learning disability and has improved the lives of over 800 people in recent years.

Over the past year, The Atkinson has developed volunteering opportunities across all of its operations including museum and gallery, workshop, administration and visitor services roles. Over 70 volunteers have contributed to The Atkinson’s success by giving their time, experience and enthusiasm.

Emma Anderson, director of The Atkinson, said: “The coming together of Southport Arts Centre, the Atkinson Art Gallery, Botanic Gardens Museum and Southport’s Central Library into one vibrant venue two years ago marked a pivotal moment for Sefton’s cultural offer.

“This has supercharged the development of an amazing and stimulating cultural centre for Southport, bursting with entertainment, opportunity, ideas and cooperation.

“My first two years as director of this fantastic organisation have been an inspiration. We think we are unique, as a local authority run arts venue that brings together such a wide range of creative programmes.

“Now that the capital development is complete we can start to flex our creative and entrepreneurial muscle as a single organisation, with a strong central vision for bringing the best art we can to people’s doorstep.”


Saturday 9 May will see a free family fun day to celebrate The Atkinson’s second birthday. Free arts and crafts activities and face painting will run 11.30am-2.30pm. And a Spring vintage fair will provide plenty of opportunities for a spot of retail therapy or just a mooch at (11am-4pm). The fair will have a wide section of stalls selling retro clothing, re -worked vintage designs, dazzling jewellery, unique home ware and more.

A new exhibition, on tour from London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, opens on Saturday 9th. Recording Britain is the result of a unique documentary project initiated by author and broadcaster Sir Kenneth Clark at the start of WWII. The purpose behind the project was to make ‘sympathetic records’ of vulnerable buildings, landscapes and lifestyles. The free exhibition runs until Sunday 9 August 2015.

The Sacred Egypt exhibition is also free to attend that day. Running until Sunday 30 August 2015, it explores the holy landscapes of Egypt.

Ticketed events on the day include Stuff & Nonsense Theatre Company’s 3 Little Pigs at 2.30pm, which promises to be a madcap show full of puppetry comedy and thrills. (£8 / £6 children / £24 family ticket)

Riot Jazz Brass Band plays at 8pm as part of Southport Jazz Festival (8-10 May). A nine-piece band made up of trumpets, trombones, a sousaphone, drums and an MC, they play a uniquely twisted mix of aggro jazz, hip hop samples, funked-up favourites and re-interpreted dubstep, drum’n’bass and dance floor bangers that never fail to send limbs flying (£10-£12)

There’s special birthday offers for all in The Bakery. Kids can enjoy a giant cookie and a milkshake for just £1.50, a hot chocolate and a brownie for £2 or a cheese and fruit nibble box and a Fruit Shoot also for £2. Parents are not left out, with a cuppa and a slice of homemade cake for £2.50.

Two years of The Atkinson in figures

Total number of visitors = 1,000,000
Tickets sold = 80,345
Number of events = 726
Visitors to the museum and galleries = 198,763
Number of exhibitions = 25
Cups of tea and coffee sold = 59,000
Breakfasts sold = 9,200
Alcoholic drinks sold = 42,800
Ice creams sold = 6,000
CO2 output reduced in year two in tonnes = 242
To find out more information about The Atkinson and its programme of events, exhibitions and more please visit us at or by calling The Atkinson’s Box Office on 01704 533333.

Family Fun Day
Saturday 29May

Recording Britain
Exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Saturday 9 May – Sunday 9 August

Stuff and Nonsense Theatre
3 Little Pigs
Saturday 9 May
£8 (£6 children/ £24 adult)

*Please be advised that there is a £2.50 booking fee for telephone and online sales.

Posted on 5 May 2015 under General news

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