A petition calling for Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery to remain free to local residents is to be presented at a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet this Wednesday, 13 February.
The petition, signed by over 500 people, was organised by Conservative councillors after Liberal Democrat-run Bath and North East Somerset Council announced plans to introduce a charge for the gallery’s temporary visiting exhibitions.
Conservatives have argued that B&NES residents should not have to pay twice to visit the gallery, both through their Council Tax and on the door, and are calling for B&NES Discovery Card holders to continue to be allowed into the gallery for free of charge.
Conservative councillors have proposed that in order to keep the gallery free for local residents, an extra pound should be added to the price of the combined Roman Baths and Fashion Museum ticket, with entry to the Victoria Art Gallery added to the ticket. It is estimated that this could raise an additional £50,000 a year, enough to cover the savings the Council wants to make at the gallery.
Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Cons, Lansdown), who organised the petition, said:
“There is a basic principle here that B&NES residents already pay for the Victoria Art Gallery through their Council Tax, so should not be subject to an additional charge on the door.
“The people I’ve spoken to whilst collecting signatures for the petition have felt very strongly that the gallery should remain free. The danger if the Council goes ahead with its plan to introduce charges for all is that it could make visiting cultural attractions more exclusive and only open to those who can afford them, as well as reduce footfall.
“If the Council adds just a pound to the price of the combined Roman Baths and Fashion Museum ticket, this could raise the money needed to keep the Victoria Art Gallery free for B&NES residents. I will be pressing the Council to consider this option when I present the petition.”