Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pay to play

In this age of free, can you even charge a fee? That’s the question the New Plymouth City Council is going to decide tonight. Should the addition of the Len Lye Centre push the combined LLC/Govett-Brewster into pay-to-play? Realistically it would be a dumb move. Globally museums have faltered as they move from free-for-all to paid entrance with attendances (the metric so loved by councils and trustees) plummeting. In the United States a review by the American Association of Museums found that charging at the door has not only reduced attendances but also helped ensure minorities and those on low incomes only make up 9 percent of visitors. So what’s a regional art gallery director to do?

Simon Rees, the director of the LLC/G-B, came up with an idea. What if, instead of charging an entry fee, they encouraged donations beyond just putting a perspex box with a slit in the top at the entrance?  An Active Donations Strategy (ADS) in fact, using Paywave. OK, it’s only one of five options - and some of those include charging too - but it’s hard to see how reasonably minded (#suckup) Councillors could not at least give it a go.

If you want to read everything the Councillors will have to wade through to make a decision like this (26 pages and five options including option 4 that would charge adult visitors $10, seniors, beneficiaries and Unwaged $7 and kids at school $5) you can download it here. Scroll down to page 62 and you’ll find the numbers that show that introducing an entrance fee would only raise revenue by 10 percent. Go figure why the Council has even  got to debating this in the first place. Anyway, tonight’s the night. Hold onto your hats. (the New Plymouth District Council has since voted to trial of an electronic donation system, which members hope could net $100,000 over 12 months)

Image: a hat.