December 6 2013 Latest news:
Emma Knights and Martin George
Friday, September 20, 2013
They were the absolute stars of our summer, Norwich’s resident troop of gorillas that captivated young and old and brought a huge amount of extra visitors to our fine city.
And while the GoGoGorillas! trail featuring 54 primates may now be over, there will be one last chance for us all to say au revoir to the arty apes as they gather together in the centre of Norwich for a very special final farewell at the end of this month.
As preparations continue for the gorillas’ last hurrah, newly-released research shows the amazing “gorilla effect” that has been cast upon Norwich since the trail began on June 24.
A survey of about 2,500 people by Zing Insights, in collaboration with trail organisers Break and Wild in Art, found that about two thirds of people questioned said their visit to Norwich city centre was influenced by the gorillas while one third said it was the sole reason for their visit.
Seventy-one percent of people said they stayed in Norwich for longer because of the gorillas, and on average those who followed the trail spent about 61pc more in the city.
Half of all those surveyed said the gorillas had inspired them to explore parts of the city they would not normally visit, and many people said GoGoGorillas! had created a stronger sense of community.
The gorillas’ boost for tourism was also shown, with half of tourists surveyed saying they would be likely to recommend a visit to Norwich to friends and family, and almost half saying they were likely to return to Norwich within the next six months due to their experience of the trail.
In addition to the survey, other evidence of the great “gorilla effect” is that 200,000 GoGoGorillas! trail maps were printed and distributed, more than 11,000 people entered Break’s trail map competition, and, in a sample week, one in five questions fielded by Norwich city guides were about the primates. The gorillas also had a huge online following on social media.
Martin Green, GoGoGorillas! project manager, said he was delighted with the amazing response to the gorillas and the great impact the troop had had on the city during the 11 weeks of the trail.
He said: “I think from our point of view, what we have tried to do is to make sure that we have got the blocks in place to have a successful event. That was to have a lot of gorillas in place in Norwich, showcase bits of Norwich that people had not been to, and showcase a lot of artists and help local and national charities.
“This was about giving Norwich something special in 2013, and we certainly hope we have achieved that.”
He said the whole project - which saw artists, businesses and many other organisations work together - involved 18 months of work and preparation, and the only aspect that was down to luck was the fantastic summer weather.
As well as the 54 adult apes on display, there was also a another trail of 67 baby gorillas created by school children from across the county.
Charlie Langhorne, director of Wild in Art said: “Wild in Art events are designed to engage the creative and business sectors together with schools and local communities to create wonderful memorable experiences. These survey results provide ample proof that when all the sectors in a community – like Norwich - come together, the impact is truly significant.”
Now the focus is on giving the gorillas an amazing send-off in the days before they are auctioned off to raise funds for Break and the Born Free Foundation.
The group - with the exception of the King Kong gorilla that was outside the Odeon - will be reassembled outside the Forum on the morning of Sunday, September 29, where they will be welcomed by Lord Mayor of Norwich, Keith Driver.
Michael Rooney, fundraising manager at Break, said: “What we wanted to do before the auction was to give everyone the opportunity to see them all together again.”
The Lord Mayor will arrive to greet the troop by 11am and will be accompanied by the Alan Partridge gorilla - created by Phil and Sam Daniels and sponsored by abbotFox - that was crowned the king of the swingers in an online poll run by the Norwich Evening News and Eastern Daily Press.
The winners of Break’s trail map competition will also be there.
The gorilla sculptures will then be moved into the Forum where they will be on display for the rest of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning, ahead of the auction on Thursday October 3 that is being hosted by Break patron Jake Humphrey.
• There are a limited amount of tickets left for the auction. Call Jeni Matthews on 01603 670105 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can pre-bid on the gorillas, and telephone bidding will be available on the night but must be arranged in advance. For more information about the auction, see gogogorillas.co.uk/auction
• Zing Insights is also running a web survey about GoGoGorillas! To take part visit http://bit.ly/1brpptY