COVENTRY Transport Museum is to introduce an entrance fee for people who live outside the city amid financial difficulties – with City of Culture 2021 approaching.
But city residents will still be able to visit for free using the controversial city residents’ loyalty card the GoCV card, which critics have said will be a ‘visitor tax’.
The tourist destination attracts over 360,000 visitors a year.
Last year, we reported its management organisation the Culture Coventry Trust was bailed out with a £370,000 ‘one-off’ grant from city council taxpayers amid more job losses. It was in addition to its outstanding £600,000 council taxpayer loan.
Job losses have also been a feature of restructures to the trust which runs the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry Transport Museum and Lunt Roman Fort and The Old Grammar School.
The museum says visitors can expect to see a new programme of temporary and touring shows from the extra income from charging for entrance, and some investment by the trust.
The venue is predominantly funded through grants from Coventry City Council and Arts Council England and commercial activities.
Prices for adults will be £14, concessions will be £10.50 and juniors (5 to 16 years) will be £7 with special prices for families. That price will not only apply to one visit, but for a year.
The museum says that, although the admission changes are crucial to the ‘financial sustainability and growth of the organisation’, accessibility is still ‘engrained in the trust’s values followed by the trust, so on special days admission will remain free to all visitors’.
Paul Breed, Chief Executive of Culture Coventry, said: “Last year we set a four-year business plan which included several objectives and investigative streams to explore.
“One of the objectives was to look at ways to generate further income to ensure we are a sustainable and financially robust organisation, prepared for future challenges.
“But the carefully considered decision to implement admission charges goes beyond income generation – the additional revenue gives us the chance to bring an exciting range of innovative, exceptional and interactive activities and exhibitions to the museum which will attract visitors from all over the country and beyond.
“As Coventry City Council own the collection, it was important to us, to ensure that the people of Coventry can still access the museum for free. We have therefore decided that GoCV card holders – which are free to all city residents – will not be charged for entry.”
Mr Breed added: “The decision to change the museum’s admission was not taken lightly, and extensive sector research, consultations, modelling and sensitivity analysis has been conducted.
“As a venue of international significance, Coventry Transport Museum is a destination attraction such as many others around the country that also charge for admission. It is important that such venues maintain robust and sustainable business models that allow the quality of the offer to be both maintained and enhanced for all visitors.”
The admission changes will come into effect from Sunday, June 30 and will coincide with the launch of an international exhibition that is making its UK debut at the Coventry Transport Museum. Tickets will be bookable in advance and there will be select days during the year when admission will be free for all visitors.
Leader of the Coventry Conservatives Councillor Gary Ridley has in the past condemned the GoCV scheme, saying that city events and attractions – such as the Godiva Festival – should remain free for all.
Responding to the news, Coun Ridley tweeted: “If Coventrians don’t pick up their new ID card how many of them will end up paying this charge as well?”