OPINION: The issue of charging for entry to the Len Lye Centre is not as simple as some letter writers believe.
A fee would mean that those who can least afford it - those from low socio-economic and low education backgrounds, Maori, youth, people with disabilities (one in five in New Zealand) and the growing proportion of elderly - would have less or no access to the centre's exhibitions, education and public events about art and ideas.
Charging a fee for basic entry compromises the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery's ability to seek sponsorship and grants, as many specifically support maximum access for all, and entry charges would not be viewed favourably in funding applications.
Research shows that any entrance fee reduces visitor numbers to museums in New Zealand by 40 per cent to 80 per cent. The recent removal of a basic entrance fee at the Auckland Art Gallery has resulted in a dramatic increase in visitor numbers. Note: The Govett-Brewster, like Auckland Art Gallery, does and can charge for special events and exhibitions.
The more people we get through the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre, the more money comes in as fees and charges, shop sales, cafe revenue, donations and sponsorship.
Since a British government initiative 10 years ago removed entry charges from major museums and galleries, visitor numbers have increased by 51 per cent. Free entry has widened access, encouraging people to visit who would be put off by even a low entry charge.
NPDC General Manager Community Services
- Taranaki Daily News
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