I wrote the first version of this post in an email to my friend Betsy Rosenwald, who is one of the Communications people at the Mendel Art Gallery. It was written in the context of Saskatoon City Council’s move to get the Mendel to begin charging admission fees. I originally wrote it to provide another data point for the Mendel’s upcoming discussions on admission fees, and to give some perspective from outside the usual field of operations. It turned out a lot longer than I expected.
In my introduction to yesterday’s rant about weak arguments against the Mendel Art Gallery’s expansion plans I mentioned that during the debate some members of Saskatoon City Council brought up the issue of charging admission to the gallery. The debate on admission fees isn’t just a local one. This post is a compilation of links to blogs, articles, and papers that look at the issue.
I should note my biases up-front. I consider myself a fiscal conservative, and in general am not opposed to reasonable user fees. I am aware that this is a divisive issue and that the debate usually gets polarized between the “free access for all” and “we must implement user fees” camps. In many ways the debate has a lot in common with the legal wrangling about copyright and intellectual property, or open source versus proprietary software. Perhaps I’ll write about those similarities in the future. For now, I want to focus on links to information specifically about admission fees to public art galleries. Be forewarned: this is a fairly extensive info-dump. Also note that much of this information may be familiar as I’ve compiled and edited this post from a series of emails I sent to the public relations people at the Mendel.
In the aftermath of my talk at Paved Arts last week I’ve been trying to clear my head enough to get on with some administrative work that needs to be done. However my head has had so many things swimming around in it (no kippers, though) that I decided to simply write them up as a blog post.
First up is the Mendel Art Gallery’s expansion plan, and the city council meeting I attended on 26 February 2007 to support the Mendel’s efforts. Although the meeting was long, it was really interesting to watch the meeting and get a sense of the civic political process. As has been reported elsewhere, the vote passed after a great deal of time spent debating the idea of gallery admission fees. This idea of admission fees has been looked at many times in the past. In this specific instance was brought forward with what appeared to be no advance notice. Because of this procedural misstep on the part of Councillor Myles Heidt, the matter was eventually taken off the motion concerning the Mendel expansion. I have thoughts on the issue of gallery admission fees, but I’ll save those for later.