What’s good for the gallery is good for museums: Arnold

JNAAG photo via Facebook Patrons wait to get into the new Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia earlier this year. A county council committee has nixed the idea of an admission fee for the new gallery for now.

JNAAG photo via Facebook
Patrons wait to get into the new Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia earlier this year. A county council committee has nixed the idea of an admission fee
for the new gallery for now.

St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold says what’s good for the gallery is good for the museum.

During Lambton County budget deliberations, county councilors wondered aloud why there was no admission to the new Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery. With a new building and expanded programing, the county hired four more staff and the budget for the gallery now sits at $1.25 million.

Petrolia Mayor John McCharles, backed by his fellow councilors, suggested the county look into charging a small admission fee.

A report from staff to a county committee says the last time a fee was introduced attendance plummeted 23 percent and another 35 percent the next year, even though council rescinded the fee. It took 10 years to regain the traffic to what was then Gallery Lambton.

Gallery staff is recommending the idea of an admission fee be looked at in 2014, when a new business plan has to be developed.

Sarnia City/Councilor David Boushy was pleased the idea was shelved. “If we ever decide this is the way to go, it would send the wrong direction to the community,” he says noting groups already pay a fee for a tour. “Beyond that I’m against it 100 percent. It sends the wrong message to the community.”

Arnold agreed but went a little further saying the county’s museums do charge admission fees. “Why aren’t we consistent?” he asked. “I agree you want people to come in and see your stuff… but the museum charges and they struggle with charging people, too,” he says. “I don’t think we want to discourage people from coming to any of our cultural facilities and museums are cultural facilities.”

County staff will prepare a report to see what the financial implications of removing admission fees to the two museums would be. It’s expected to be ready in a couple of months.

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