‘Use museum fees to subsidise student tickets’
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.”