Gallery fees back on agenda

21:26, Feb 19 2013
tdn lance stand
New Plymouth District Councilor Lance Girling-Butcher

The contentious issue of charging entry fees to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Centre will again be considered by the New Plymouth District Council.

The decision was made at yesterday's council meeting where the council's preliminary draft Annual Plan 2013/14 was confirmed.

The issue is one which regularly divides both the council and the community, with supporters saying entry fees are fair enough and opponents saying they will stop people going to the art galleries.

Yesterday, councillor Shaun Biesiek asked the councillors to again investigate and consider entry fees.

The council has previously said the cost of running the $10 million Len Lye Centre, which will sit beside the Govett-Brewster, will be met by the council and entry will be free.

In the centre's first year these costs were budgeted at $362,000 or about $10 per ratepayer.


Councillor John McLeod said he was in favour of an entry fee but wasn't confident the case would be successful.

"To me it is a must, it's only fair," Mr McLeod said. "I don't believe we're going to make traction but miracles do happen."

But the fees should only apply to out-of-town visitors and not New Plymouth ratepayers or schoolchildren, he said.

It was standard practice for major international art galleries to charge fees, he said.

Len Lye Committee chairman Lance Girling-Butcher said it wasn't the first time fees had been discussed.

"It comes up every year as part of the budget process," Mr Girling-Butcher said. "I'm not scared of a review and that's why I was quite happy to support what Shaun Biesiek said."

Len Lye Centre supporters had a strong argument for no entry fee, he said. "We've always been able to convince the council that it's not a very good idea based on sound research. I don't really see that changing but I think it's healthy debate."

If an entry fee was imposed it could end up costing the council more money, he said.

"If you do anything that reduces your attendance then you reduce the appeal to people who want to sponsor exhibitions."

He didn't rule out an entry fee down the line.

It was also decided at yesterday's meeting that council would investigate removing the Gover St toilets and selling the land.

Savings of $1.4 million were confirmed in the council's preliminary draft plan.

Mr Duynhoven said it included savings over the following two years from the activities and service review.

The rates increase for 2013/14 would be 4.6 per cent - down from the projected 6.6 per cent in the long-term plan.

The activity and service review looks to save costs by proposing $200,000 be cut from the major events fund and reducing the number of bins in walkways and parks by 10 per cent per year for three years. Other ideas include reducing the number of streetside rubbish bins from 300 to 150 over the next three years, reducing street cleaning in New Plymouth's central business district from seven days to four and cleaning the district's toilets less.

The plan will now be reviewed by Audit New Zealand and then considered at the council's March 12 meeting before going out for public consultation.

Taranaki Daily News