LETTER:How the V&A should charge

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The Independent Online
From Mr Peter Forster

Sir: The Victoria and Albert Museum's proposal to impose a compulsory pounds 10 entrance fee fills this London artist with dismay ("V&A director wants pounds 10 admission fee", 16 November). It presupposes that we all visit a museum or art gallery under exactly the same conditions, as if we were all tourists cramming in everything (or as much as possible) in one fell swoop, "doing" the sight and ticking it off in our Blue Guides.

We Londoners visit our museums during our lunch breaks, in the course of our shopping expeditions, or en route between appointments. We artists drop in to see a particular gallery or exhibit, or to check a specific reference.

Ten pounds for a whole day or an afternoon amidst all the splendours of the V&A is not unreasonable (I love the place sufficiently to say that it is cheap), but for 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour it is just a bit steep, especially if the gallery one came to see is closed for the day or the exhibit is temporarily not on display.

I am willing (and the museum at present takes my honesty on trust) to pay according to the time I have at my disposal or the time I need. Culture has its price as much as anything else, but the price, like most other things, must be relative.

A city museum is not a stately home which one travels miles through the country to tour, nor is it a theatre or an opera house where one pays to see a complete performance, not simply ones favourite scene or aria - and where, incidentally, one pays more for a good seat than for a partial view.

The V&A's proposed fee is the equivalent of charging the same price for a seat in the gods as for the royal box.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Forster

London, N4

16 November

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