V&A director Tristram Hunt defends rising cost of exhibition tickets in UK

'Have they risen more than cinema prices? I doubt it'

Jack Shepherd
Tuesday 09 October 2018 12:48 BST
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A display showing the Division Bell metal heads during a preview of the Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at The V&A in London
A display showing the Division Bell metal heads during a preview of the Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains at The V&A in London (Getty Images)

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Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, has defended the increasing costs of exhibition tickets in the UK.

The question over how much people should pay for entrance into Britain’s top art exhibits has been widely discussed, the V&A coming under scrutiny for charging people £24 for entrance to their Pink Floyd show last year.

Speaking at the Cheltenham literature festival, Hunt, a former Labour MP, admitted that prices have risen, but not at an extortionate rate.

“Have they risen more than cinema prices? I doubt it,” he said, according to The Guardian. ”Have they risen more than train prices? I very much doubt it.”

Hunt explained how they are being smarter about ticket prices, charging more on weekends and less if tickets are booked in advance: “That kind of modelling that we’re used to in aeroplanes and other parts of our life. I’m not saying we’re turning into Ryanair.”

Commenting on the Pink Floyd show, which featured the highest number of visitors from low-earning groups, Hunt said: “If people are willing to pay hundreds and hundreds of pounds on football season tickets then seeking to have a fair price for a work of great curatorial excellence does not seem to me wrong.”

One way to counter the rising increase in prices would be to copy the example of many European cities and charge people a tax for staying in hotels.

“My view is that four out of five visitors come to London to see culture,” Hunt added. ”When I go and stay in New York or Paris or Rome I pay a hotel tax which supports the cultural infrastructure of those cities.”

Government spending on museums and galleries has fallen drastically in recent years, a survey published in February finding that public spending has declined by 13 per cent in real terms over a decade.

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