Residents offered half-price pass to art gallery; councillor calls this ‘surprising’

Sculptures and paintings on display at the new-look York Art Gallery. Photograph: York Museums Trust
31 Jul 2015 @ 10.47 am
| News

After residents spoke “passionately” about how much they value free access to the York Art Gallery, a revised charging plan has been introduced.

The plan to charge residents as well as visitors £7.50 for entry when it reopens on Saturday (August 1) caused widespread consternation.

Now York Museums Trust, which runs the gallery as well as the Castle Museum and Yorkshire Museum, has halved the price of its new YMT Card for local people.

New charges

The YMT Card will give 12 month’s admission to York Art Gallery, York Castle Museum the Yorkshire Museum, as well as a range of other benefits.

YorkCard holders will be able to buy a direct debit YMT Card for £10.

For York Card holders who are aged 17-24 years, or anyone claiming income related benefits, an Access YMT Card will be available for £5 a year by direct debit.

Children aged 16 and under, accompanied by an adult, will still go free to all sites. All YMT sites will also participate in York Residents’ Festival which offers free access to York residents.

This gives an adult unlimited access to all the venues for one year. It was previously priced at £22, or £17 for YorkCard holders.

Now the trust has announced that YorkCard holders will get 50% off the price of a YMT Card. It will be £11, or £10 via direct debit.

Single entry for adults will still cost £7.50.

This followed a council meeting on Wednesday night (July 29) at which local people protested at the decision to charge for entry.

Councillors rejected the previous entrance fees and called for further negotiations with the trust before making a final decision in September.

A spokesman for the museums trust described that outcome as “inconclusive”.

But they had introduced a lower-priced YMT Card after “York residents who attended the meetings spoke passionately about how much they value the museums and gallery.”

‘Surprising’ outcome

Cllr Nigel Ayre, the executive member for leisure, culture and tourism, said:

It is surprising that the York Museums Trust has pushed on with its proposals.

On Wednesday night there was cross-party support for the charging plans to be halted ahead of further discussions taking place.

However, I am pleased to see that following my decision last night the Trust has at least offered a 50% discount to York Card holders for the annual pass.

This is a step in the right direction and an example of the further concessions we have been pushing for.

York Art Gallery reopens on August 1 after an £8 million, two-and-a-half year renovation.

The trust needs cash from somewhere, the YMT spokesman said:

York Museums Trust has suffered a 60% cut in funding from the Council, taking it from £1.5 million in 2013 to £600,000 this year.
 
We have recently learnt that the City of York Council funding to York Museums Trust is likely be even further reduced to £300,000 next year.  If this happens York Museums Trust will have suffered an 80% cut in our year-on-year funding.
 
As a registered charity our first obligation is to care for the collections, the 18 buildings and the Museum Gardens that we maintain on behalf of the public.  We were already struggling to cope with the existing £900,000 gap in our funding.

The spokesman said they see the YMT card as “the mechanism to start a more direct relationship with York residents as the Council funding becomes less”.