Letter: Museum charges

Share
Sir: As the debate on free entry to the national collections rightly continues, we must not forget the similar dilemma facing museums and galleries up and down the country.

Regional museums and galleries are the backbone of our cultural heritage, a source of regional identity, a reflection of British contemporary creativity and increasingly at the heart of inner-city regeneration programmes. For the majority of museums and gallery visitors, who represent a greater proportion of the population than those who go to football matches, their first encounter with this heritage is their local art gallery or museum. They are an educational and cultural resource comparable to public libraries, stimulating inquiry and creativity. Children visiting with schools return with their parents. The ability to "drop in" sets a pattern for lifelong learning and enjoyment.

The figures speak for themselves: at the Russell-Cotes Gallery in Bournemouth the removal of charges in April 1995 led to a jump in attendances of 30 per cent, whilst at Ipswich Museum charges were abandoned following the 61 per cent drop in visitors. A government dedicated to education, lifelong learning and the eradication of social exclusion needs to protect the return on the investment made by its citizens, who contribute not only through local taxes but also donations, voluntary support, sponsorship and increasingly, at one remove, through playing the lottery. The benefit of a national grid for learning, for example, will be limited if first- hand access to its key sources is inhibited by short-term policy decisions.

HILARY GRESTY, Director, Visual Arts and Galleries Association; STEPHEN FOSTER, Director, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton University; PETER JENKINSON, Director, New Art Gallery, Walsall; STEPHEN SNODDY, Southampton City Art Gallery; LOUISE KARLSEN, Head of Galleries and Museums, Oldham; SUSAN FERLEGER BRADES, Director, Hayward Gallery; MIKE SIXSMITH, Touring Exhibitions Group; MICHAEL HARRISON, Director, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge University; PENNY THOMPSON, Curator, Rochdale Art Gallery; ELIZABETH ANN MacGREGOR, Director, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; VIRGINIA TANDY, Director, Cornerhouse, Manchester; LES BUCKINGHAM, Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth; NICK DODD, Head of Arts and Museums, Wolverhampton; SUE GRAYSON FORD, Director, Cardiff Bay Arts Trust; MARGARET RYLATT, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £15864.28 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Re...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tessa fizzes with ideas; she has all the warmth in the world but a core of steel  

Why Tessa Jowell gets my vote for London Mayor

Alan Johnson
Was this the game when the public started to fall back in love with English cricket?  

How can anyone say Test match cricket is dying after this glorious, complex battle?

Matthew Norman
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf