Why art galleries should be free to enter

Lucia Qureshi argues that all art galleries should be free, especially during our pandemic times.

Lucia Qureshi
12th December 2020

Whether or not entry to art galleries should be free is a question that has long been asked, and arguably, has never been more important than it is today. Cultural industries in particular have been hit hard by the pandemic and so one of the important considerations in answering this question is how entrance fees (or a lack thereof) could help these institutions survive.

As noted in Dominic Lawson’s Independent article, “Michael Dixon, the chairman of the National History Museum, argues that while the free admissions policy “costs approximately £45m a year to implement” an extra “£315m” is generated through additional revenues by tourists – presumably, in the Tate, by buying prints and suchlike in one of the gallery’s seven shopping areas.” Therefore, free entry to galleries has already been seen to be financially beneficial to these establishment and therefore could help them to continue to run in the future.

Along similar lines, we should also think about how the absence of an entrance fee impacts on the attendance (and by extension, the accessibility) of cultural industries. A Guardian article published in 2011 states that between then and the introduction of free entry in December 2001, admissions to national collections doubled. In this way, not only does free entry make art galleries more accessible generally, there is also clearly a demand for this, thus demonstrating the benefit of such policies.

For these reasons, art galleries should definitely be free to enter.

Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons

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