Tabish Khan the @LondonArtCritic loves art and visits hundreds of exhibitions a year. Every now and then he comes across something in the art world that either does or doesn’t meet his approval.
The cost of everything is going up — food, energy, petrol, and even exhibition ticket prices. I remember when a £20 ticket price for a major exhibition was upsetting a few years ago, and now it’s the norm with some ticket prices hitting £26.
How are museums to react in response to the cost of living crisis? The charge has been led by The National Gallery who have made Friday evenings pay what you like so people may visit the excellent Lucian Freud exhibition for as little as £1 – normal ticket prices are £24-26. Unsurprisingly all remaining Friday evening slots are sold out, while full-price slots remain open — proof that there is a clear demand to see this blockbuster but not everyone can stretch to accommodate the high ticket prices.
Swiftly jumping on to this great idea was Barbican with its impressive Carolee Schneemann exhibition where ticket prices on a Friday evening start at £3 and go up in £3 increments to the full £18 ticket price so people can pay however much they can afford. At the time of writing, there were still tickets available for Friday evening slots.
Now it’s not perfect as the viewing experience at a sold-out session is often compromised by the number of visitors but so many more people will see these exhibitions that may not have been able to without the cheaper option. Yes, the gallery’s revenues will take a hit but I imagine it’s not much of one given that full-price timeslots still make up the majority.
‘Pay what you like’ is the perfect response to the cost of living crisis to ensure art remains open to all and I am now looking at all other ticketed exhibitions at galleries and museums to see if they follow suit — because they should.
For more in this series, see my thoughts on outdoor art, inappropriate selfies, it’s air conditioned, why everyone is wrong about NFTs, poor press releases, experience as art, commercial as a dirty word, new galleries opening in London, video art at home, the Hockney roundel, art finds a way, art being free, Online exhibitions, Turner Prize 2019, artist’s request for feedback, the reaction to the shredded Banksy, #FriezeWeek, Blockchain hype, Finding art, Private views, Art itself, Appointment only exhibitions, Artificial Intelligence replacing artists, Everyone’s a Critic, Photo London, The Turner Prize, Art for art’s sake, Conceptual art is complicated, Condo, How performance art is presented in museums, Frieze week floozies, too much respect for an artist’s legacy, opinions not being welcome, an exhibition across three countries, tackling race and gender in art, artist-curators, art fair hype, top 5s and top 10s, our political art is terrible, gap left by Brian Sewell, how art never learned from the Simpsons, why artspeak won’t die, so-called reviews, bad reviews are bad for business, the $179m dollar headline, art fairs appealing to the masses, false opening hours, size matters and what’s wrong with video art.
Image is an installation view of the Schneemann exhibition. Photo Marcus J Leith