The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery will be closed on weekends throughout August for the first time ever as it tries to save money in anticipation of low weekend attendance.

"We're just working at making sure we meet our targets at a monthly basis," said director Shirley Madill on Thursday.

"And given that attendance was relatively low during the weekends in August, we found that it would be a cost-saving measure as well as just having good preparation for the fall exhibition."

Madill said the gallery, located at 101 Queen St. N., had monitored August attendance over the last two years, and found an average of less than ten visitors on weekends.

"It depends on the community," said Madill.

"Certainly the large institutions in big urban centres, such as Toronto, are also going to attract the tourists. We're really looking at booking exhibitions over the summer in the future that would indeed attract groups from outside."

In addition, only the collection show in the gallery's main corridor will be open during August. The gallery also wants to install the autumn exhibition, which will take up to two weeks.

A downtown Kitchener resident said part of the problem was a lack of awareness in the community.

"The art gallery isn't really well known. It's a little bit out of the way from Main Street Kitchener. Especially on Saturdays and Sundays, downtown Kitchener isn't that lively," said Michael Hunter.

Community needs to show gallery is important

The gallery keeps approximately 4,000 works in its permanent collection and admission is free. 

Madill said its summer camp programs and autumn exhibitions have proven popular in the past, and traffic does pick up in the fall.

She said while the summer might see around 1,000 visitors in a week, in the fall the gallery averages over 4,000 people a week.

"It's important for the community to understand how important this gallery is to the community," said Madill.

"We do need their support. We do need their attendance. We do need them to tell us we're doing a good job. I think that fuss in the community is important to hear."