Great North Snowdogs - the largest free public art trail ever to take place in the North East – boosted the region’s economy by a massive £16.5million organisers have claimed.
More than 676,000 people visited the trail of 61 sculptures, inspired by the animated film The Snowman™ and The Snowdog, which covered North and South Tyneside, Sunderland, Gateshead, Newcastle and Northumberland for nine weeks last autumn.
And it was so successful that the charity behind the project, Newcastle-based St Oswald’s Hospice, has announced plans to hold a similar initiative in autumn 2019.
Figures released by St Oswald’s – which staged Great North Snowdogs - alongside creative producers, Wild in Art, Penguin Random House and in conjunction with research agency NGI Solutions – show visitors from across the UK splashed out on goods and services during their visit.
Tyne and Wear residents formed the majority visitors, spending on average £18.37 a trip, while those from further afield registered a £25.32 average spend.
The region’s hotels benefitted from an additional 67,000 visitors – as one in 10 stayed overnight – and tourist attractions, such as Sunderland’s National Glass Centre, which sponsored and housed a Snowdog, also reached a whole new audience.
Great North Snowdogs was also a huge success for St Oswald’s Children’s Hospice, which provides specialist care and short breaks to youngsters with life shortening conditions, and their families in the region.
During the course of the project more than 11,000 people downloaded the Great North Snowdogs app and at least 280,000 people viewed, shared and interacted with the St Oswald’s Hospice social media sites each week.
And not only did an auction, in December, of the individually decorated Snowdogs, raise more than £260,000 for the charity, but the figures show that 42 per cent of visitors to the trail later made some form of donation to the Hospice taking the total raised to £367,000.
Jane Hogan, Great North Snowdogs project lead for St Oswald’s Hospice, said: “The response to this trail was beyond anything we could ever have imagined.
“People of all ages and from all parts of the country took the Snowdogs to their hearts with more than 90 per cent saying they would like the trail to return to their area and more than 80 per cent rating it as ‘excellent.’
“A vast amount of work went into staging Great North Snowdogs and we are thrilled that not only will our children and their families benefit from the project, but that it has also given the North East in general a genuine economic boost and brought a sense of pride to the community.”
Charlie Langhorne, Director, Wild in Art said: “Our aim was always to bring something of real value to Tyne and Wear, as well as raising funds for St Oswald’s, and we never anticipated this level of impact.
“The figures are phenomenal but the economic impact is only part of the equation as the trail has also encouraged local people to discover places they wouldn’t normally visit, be more active, and spend more time with friends and family
“The results clearly show the huge impact which happens when the business and creative sectors join forces.”