Firstsite boss Sally Shaw has welcomed the gallery’s record-breaking year but says there is more to come.

The Lewis Gardens gallery made a profit of £37,496 at the end of the 2017/18 financial year and saw a record number of visitors - 155, 979 - come through the door.

The results have largely been put down to the successful Grayson Perry exhibition the Life of Julie Cope.

But the gallery’s cinema programme, which is jointly run with Curzon cinemas, also played its part.

Between March 2017 and March 2018, the income from that project jumped from £57,000 to £183,000.

Gallery director Ms Shaw said: “One of the successes within the year is the steady growth of our cinema programme which is so brilliantly produced in partnership with Curzon cinemas.

“Our audiences are clearly connecting with the fact that a film watched at Firstsite is a film that enables many other creative community driven activities to happen, such as our Holiday Fun programme, through which we have been providing free lunches and creative activities during school holidays for children and families who would be in receipt of free school meals during term time.

“The board of trustees, the team and I, are delighted with this performance and we are working hard to keep the momentum up so Firstsite continues to grow as the vibrant and creative community asset it was always planned to be.”

READ MORE: Bumper year sees Firstsite get into profit for the first time ever

Ms Shaw also explained how, despite the number of staff dropping from 46 in March 2017 to 41, in March this year, the amount of money paid out in salaries has increased.

Staff wages increased from £645,000 to £721,000 over the course of the year.

Ms Shaw said: “One thing our audiences have asked us to improve over the years is the communication of our activities to more people.

“We have invested in this considerably over the last 12 months, which is in part the reason why our staff costs have increased.

“This investment has been worthwhile and is another factor in our record visitor figures.

“Our communications work has been delivered by an external agency for some time now, allowing us to learn the best mix of communications tools.”

An in-house communications role has also been created and filled with a local candidate who is due to start imminently.