Mini-golf, rock music and cat videos were among the factors that helped drive revenue and attendance at the Walker Art Center in the fiscal year ended June 30.
The Walker balanced its budget for the 33rd consecutive year, with $20.6 million in spending — a 7 percent increase from the previous year — and total attendance of 683,738, up by more than 100,000.
Attendance at the Walker's Sculpture Garden saw a spike of about 26 percent in 2014, to 400,752. In addition, gallery attendance rose to 156,780. Membership was 7,630, compared with 6,389 the previous year.
The Walker's mini-golf course, a popular summer attraction, actually showed a profit in fiscal 2014, with revenue of $546,000 against expenses of $306,000. Spokesman Ryan French noted that because the fiscal year ends June 30, those figures (including attendance of about 41,000) include results from July through early September of 2013. Income from mini-golf was more than triple what it earned in the previous year.
Rock the Garden, the popular music festival, was extended to two days in June and reported revenues of $1.3 million, exceeding expenses by about $26,000.
The Internet Cat Video Festival, which created a sensation as a free outdoor event at the Walker two years ago, was staged as a ticketed evening at the Minnesota State Fair grandstand in August 2013, drawing about 13,000 people. (It returned to the Walker this past summer.)
Gallery attendance rose 10 percent to 156,780, from 142,410 the year before.
Contributions were up 4 percent in 2014 to just under $8.5 million, and the Walker drew about $5.5 million from its endowment. Combined, those figures constitute 68 percent of revenue. Income from programs accounted for $3.4 million and other income — including admissions, concessions, sales and rental — totaled about $3.1 million. Endowments were at $198.1 million, up 10.3 percent from 2013.
Exhibitions accounted for the largest percentage of expenses at $4.8 million, up about $600,000 from 2013.
In her letter to members and donors, executive director Olga Viso said the Walker's most popular exhibition of the year was "Hopper Drawing: A Painter's Process," a three-month show of works by Edward Hopper. More than 53,000 visited the show, Viso said. Target Free Thursday Nights and Free First Saturdays drew 72,000 to the museum.