I had a great chat with Vicky from the BATLIC all about how things have been going since the re-opening, it was really insightful.

They’ve kept some safety measures in place. They are still doing enhanced cleaning, there’s signage around encouraging people to wear masks and keep a safe distance, the screen around the desk has stayed and the one way system has been removed as it’s such a big space it’s easy for people to keep a safe distance from each other. Contactless payments are encouraged, hand santizer is place in every floor and there’s no need to book online in advance. They’ve been awarded a ‘Good to Go’ from Visit Britain.

I asked Vicky about mask wearing as I’ve been experiencing a lot of people without masks. This isn’t the case for the gallery, about 75% of people are wearing masks. At a family event at the weekend she noticed children in masks too which I haven’t seen in the midlands.

I wasn’t aware of the Good to Go certificate. I’ve had a quick look and it is is ‘the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.’

For now they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. This is a financial decision. The BALTIC is aiming to recover over three years rather than trying to do it quickly. Audience numbers are doing well on the five days that they are open, the Sunday before we chatted 2,500 visitors visited. Brilliant figures like this are putting them in the middle of their audience target. The winter is generally quieter, we will have to see what happens. The aim is that each visitor will spend three hours in the gallery, there’s lots of exhibitions to see, brilliant family spaces, the library and the front room. The front room used to be the cafe, the cafe has moved to a new space. The front room is a very social area, a bit like a community space, hot drinks are available for free and you are welcome to eat your pack lunch in the space as you chat about exhibitions or enjoy an event thats on. Over the holidays there’s different family events. In December there will have been two full quarters, Vicky will have a better understand of what’s motivating the audience then.

The play exhibition has now opened and I can’t wait to go and see it. Nothing has changed because of Covid in the exhibition from Albert Potrony’s original vision two years ago. There is hand sanatizer at the door and the audience are encouraged to keep their masks on. Vicky has been having lots of fun watching the audience play. Lots of play is happening with a lot of physical games, the kids are all playing together. It is so brilliant that this hasn’t been lost. Follow the leader type games are happening. Showing the brilliance of play a baby took their first steps in the exhibition, then they didn’t walk again, the parents returned and lo and behold the baby walked again!