‘Use mu­seum fees to sub­sidise stu­dent tick­ets’

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Dalya Al­berge

NA­TIONAL mu­se­ums and gal­leries should charge an en­trance fee so they can sub­sidise dis­counts for mil­len­ni­als who want to see block­buster ex­hi­bi­tions.

The con­tro­ver­sial sug­ges­tion came from Sir Roy Strong, di­rec­tor of the Vic­to­ria & Al­bert Mu­seum be­tween 1973 and 1987.

Al­though he ob­jected to his then trus­tees forc­ing him to in­tro­duce vol­un­tary charges, he now be­lieves that na­tional col­lec­tions have lit­tle choice be­cause they are so strapped for cash.

He said: “I would much rather see a low en­try fee for ev­ery­one… with con­ces­sions for… stu­dents and peo­ple like that.”

Charg­ing for ad­mis­sion is an emo­tive sub­ject, but Sir Roy sees lit­tle choice for mu­se­ums and gal­leries that are “des­per­ate for money”, hav­ing tried ev­ery pos­si­ble fundrais­ing av­enue.

He was re­spond­ing to the find­ings of re­search com­mis­sioned by Ec­cle­si­as­ti­cal In­sur­ance, whose clients in­clude the her­itage sec­tor.

A sur­vey of 2,000 peo­ple aged be­tween 18 and 30 re­veals that more than a third never visit gal­leries and al­most half never go to stately homes. But many more would go if there were cheaper tick­ets. While en­try to mu­se­ums and gal­leries is gen­er­ally free, the big ex­hi­bi­tions are of­ten not.

Stu­dents, job seek­ers and those on in­come sup­port have to pay £15 to see the Ocea­nia ex­hi­bi­tion at the Royal Academy of Arts. Stu­dent con­ces­sions of­fered by Stone­henge, Wind­sor Cas­tle and the Tower of Lon­don are £15.80, £19.30 and £17.70, re­spec­tively.

Brian Allen, a Na­tional Por­trait Gallery trustee, said that mu­se­ums and her­itage or­gan­i­sa­tions re­alise that high prices have be­come a de­ter­rent for young peo­ple.

“What’s hap­pened is that as the state and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are with­draw­ing from the fund­ing of mu­se­ums, the onus on the ex­hi­bi­tions pro­gramme to pro­duce in­come has be­come greater,” he said.

“This has meant that, in some cases, mu­se­ums are con­stantly play­ing safe… and they’re also hik­ing up the prices.

“But they’re go­ing to pay a price in the longer term. There’s a gen­er­a­tion com­ing through who are think­ing twice about spend­ing that kind of money. £15 is a lot.”

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