Glasgow sets new bar for culture and sports events

The number of people attending Glasgow's cultural venues, festivals and sporting showpieces have soared by more than a third in the space of a decade.

Great Britain's Davis Cup semi-final victory over Australia took place at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow. Picture: Jane Barlow

Record-breaking numbers of visitors to the city’s museums, including Kelvingrove and Riverside, along with one-off events like the Turner Prize and the World Gymnastics Championships, helped the tally reach more than 18 million.

Around 124,000 attendees at the Celtic Connections music festival, the highest in its history, more than 150,000 visitors to the Merchant City Festival and a 40,000-strong crowd at the 25th Glasgow Mela were other highlights.

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Further boosts are expected this year with city about to unveil a £35 million pound overhaul of the Kelvin Hall and the Homeless World Cup lined up for George Square.

The Tramway arts centre, which hosted the Turner Prize show, attracted a record 205,000 visitors last year, with the three and a half month exhibition itself responsible for almost half that figure.

Nearly 80,000 packed out the SSE Hydro Arena for the World Gymnastics Championships, while the Davis Cup saw almost 50,000 fans cram into the Emirates Arena, where Andy Murray and his brother Jamie led Britain to victory over Australia.

The 2600 staff working in the 160 venues run by the Glasgow Life trust on behalf of the city council were helped by a further 2271 volunteers last year. These include libraries, sporting facilities and community centres.

Glasgow Life chair Archie Graham said: “The last year has been outstanding for Glasgow.

“From hosting major international sporting events, to improving the lives of the people we serve, Glasgow Life has been critical to the success of our great city on a local and international stage.

The sheer scale of what we do is phenomenal – from raising the roof when Great Britain won two Davis Cup ties at the Emirates Arena, to the life-changing support we give to people to help them simply to read and write, the difference we make is simply inspirational.

“The people of Glasgow love their museums, libraries, community and sports facilities and we are responding by ensuring that they have every opportunity to get involved, see and do more – and given the fact that we have seen more than 18 million attendances in the last year, their response is incredible.

“We are continuing to invest in our community and cultural assets, continuing to work on major events that shine a welcome and positive light on the city and thanks to our dedicated staff and army of volunteers, continuing to ensure that the people of Glasgow can get so much more out of life.”

Bridget McConnell, Glasgow Life’s chief executive, added: “Glasgow is a city which is not standing still.

“Change is happening everywhere - and while there are undoubtedly areas where we can say we are world-leaders, our focus remains on providing opportunity for all.

“The work we do at Glasgow Life is making a real difference, providing the support, the inspiration and the ability for more people to get so much more out of life.”