New group gives residents chance to have their say on art gallery charges

The protest outside York Art Gallery on the day it reopened. Photograph © Anna Semlyen on Twitter
17 Aug 2015 @ 2.43 pm
| News

A new group has been launched to represent the missing views of residents on the future of the art gallery and museums.

York Gallery And Museum Community has been set up by a group of concerned people in the wake of the decision to introduce an entrance fee to York Art Gallery.

They have organised a meeting to discuss the implications on Tuesday (August 18). It will be discussing whether free entry to the gallery and museums can continue in the future, and the implications for residents if it does not.

The Priory Street Centre, off Micklegate

Tues Aug 18 @ 5.30pm-7.30pm

Free but you need to book

Book your place here

More on the Facebook group page

Several York councillors have pledged to go along, but to the disappointment of the group, York Museums Trust have declined to send anyone along.

One of the organisers is Charlotte Dawson, who also launched the online petition, York public art gallery should be free of charge, which has attracted nearly 1,100 signatures.

She spoke at the council meetings discussing the changes, where “it was clear there hadn’t been much or enough discussion between York Museums Trust and City of York Council,” Charlotte said.

‘Badly thought out’

Councillors chose to reject the trust’s application to end free entry for residents at the art gallery when it reopened on August 1, pending another meeting in September.

Yet the trust went ahead and charged residents anyway. However it did halve the price of a YMT card, which now gives an adult resident access to all its venues for a year for £11 (or £10 with a YorkCard).

“It all seems very badly thought out, and continues to be a confusing mess for residents who clearly have no idea what they are meant to be charged or not,” said Charlotte.

She added:

The trust and council are clearly not in the strongest relationship.

It is also clear that there hadn’t been any public involvement in the decision to charge – this is obvious through the feed back from the petition, conversations, the art strike and council meetings.

The creation of York Gallery And Museum Community is designed to make up for this lack of input from residents.

It will look at the entrance fee introduced to the art gallery and the ending of residents’ free entry via YorkCard to the Castle and Yorkshire Museums, also run by the YMT.

“We have invited a broad range of people that represent our local community from art teachers and youth workers to political party members,” she said.

‘Happy to be more involved’

Janet Barnes, the chief executive of York Museums Trust, was invited but has declined.

A spokesperson for trust said:

The trust is in discussions with the City of York Council about a number of issues prior to the learning & culture overview & scrutiny committee meeting on September 24.

Once this has taken place we will be happy to be involved in more general conversations with residents including the York Art Gallery and Museums Community.

Charlotte said the group were disappointed by this decision, because at the meeting Ms Barnes “would have a chance to hear different opinions, thoughts and feelings of the people who live in the city”.

The meeting at the Priory Street Centre on Tuesday will allow the public to have their say in “a sensitive and structured” environment. People’s views will then be fed back to the council.