Cash-strapped councils across the UK are rethinking the free entry to museums and galleries….reports Asian Lite News
British Museums Association president David Fleming said charging for entry was now on the agenda at many other venues that face local council funding cuts.
York Art Gallery will introduce a £7.50 entrance fee after the body that runs it had its council subsidy cut by 60%.
That follows Brighton Museum and Art Gallery’s decision to charge tourists.
“I’m absolutely certain that museums all over the country are considering introducing admissions fees in order to try to help plug the gaps that are appearing in their budgets,” he told the BBC.
But the move would only be successful in towns and cities that attract a significant number of tourists, he added.
Entrance charges at many publicly-funded museums and galleries were dropped around 15 years ago in an attempt to bring in a wider range of visitors.
The government has pledged to keep free entry at venues classed as national museums – such as the British Museum, Tate and National Gallery – which are funded directly by the government. But that pledge does not cover council-funded venues in towns and cities across the country.
York Art Gallery is one of four attractions run by York Museums Trust, which has seen its subsidy from City of York Council fall from £1.5m per year in 2012 to £600,000 this year.
The gallery scrapped entrance fees in 2002 – but will reintroduce them when it reopens on 1 August after an £8m renovation and expansion.
York Museums Trust chief executive Janet Barnes said she expected further funding cuts in the coming years.
The York decision comes two months after Brighton’s Royal Pavilion and Museums began charging £5 per adult to enter Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, unless they take proof that they are a local resident.
Visitor numbers have dropped 50% as a result, according to Royal Pavilion and Museums head of enterprise Abigail Thomas.