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On paying to look behind the glass

duckrabbit would like to introduce and welcome Joni Karanka to the blog. Joni is one of the founding members of the wonderful 3rd Floor Gallery. I was lucky enough to hang with Joni at Arles. Top, top bloke.

Hi there! I was thinking to introduce myself into duckrabbit with something that is not the usual ranting I end up in. But then I went to London for the weekend.

I saw two photography exhibitions. The first, Eyewitness at the Royal Academy, was a magnificent collection of Hungarian photography from Brassai to Capa with plenty of Kertesz in between. Luckily enough a friend had got me a ticket, because they have to be booked in advance and they cost a bit. First you pay £10, then you have a £1.50 booking fee and you can choose to donate another £1. £11.50 or £12.50, which apparently includes a £2.50 leaflet. For seeing four small rooms of great photographs. The next day I went to see the Thomas Struth at The Whitechapel. This time the price of the ticket was £8.50, and this included a £1 donation. I was thinking that I would opt out of the donation but after waiting at the queue for ten minutes  for a ticket. Then I realised that I felt a bit like a twat being the only person that instead of asking for a ticket would ask for a ticket without the donation please and ended not kicking a fuzz about it.

This time the rooms were larger and the gigantic prints more spaced out. But £8.50 with a sneaky donation by an institution that receives over £1 million in Arts Council funding and who are going to go up to £1.5 million next year?  What justifies charging such a hefty amount? After all large charities and museums have a commitment to provide a public benefit and encourage everybody to get in to see some art. How much do you get off if you’re unemployed or a student? Well, you save a quid, which is not a lot if you’re on JSA (but you have a great free afternoon at the British Museum or the National Museum of Wales).

I’m still wondering if I should have gone instead to see Conan the Barbarian in Cineworld Cardiff (£6.60 or £5.30 concession), which instead of 45 minutes of culture promises 112 minutes of fun.

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    8 comments to On paying to look behind the glass

    • craig

      I think the Whitechapel have one paying exhibition a year and this time around it’s the Struth exhibit. The exhibition is quite big and has an interesting film to watch and so overall I’d say it’s worth it (£1 ‘donation’ aside).

      The Royal Academy on the otherhand is a monumental piss take. I went to the Summer Show a few weeks back and whilst I got in free as my friend was a member I noticed it was something like £15 entry fee for the average customer. Who but the rich tourists and the middle classes with large disposable incomes can afford that? Turner must be turning in his grave.

    • @craig: yeah, just that. It’s not that somebody on a low income wouldn’t be necessarily unable to afford it, but they’d definitively wouldn’t be rushing to see an exhibition that costs £15. I’m on roughly half the average UK wage, as are many of my friends, and if I hadn’t got a free ticket I would have not considered going. I still notice that the Royal Academy don’t have public funding, so they could rely on rich people to keep the place open. On the other hand it is a charity, and I always wonder how exclusive entry prizes and public benefit mix together.

    • Prizes -> prices, :o)

    • Joni … love the post, made me laugh out loud on the train (very good thing) THANK YOU

    • Hey Duck, btw, this evening I went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Orange Wednesdays, paid just over £3 for the ticket. Now go match that, you rich well endowed gallery.

    • craig

      What they should do at the Royal Academy is have free entry on say a Friday or Saturday night. They do this at El Prado in Madrid I know and no doubt a few more places there. I have a few mates in Madrid who are low wager earners and for them it’s the way they get to see the exhibits.

      £3 for a cinema experience sounds like a bargain! Something similar can be had at the National Film Theatre (BFI) during the week when afternoon films are a fiver. You will be surrounded by quite a few people with blue rinses…

    • Peter

      Spot on. Felt exactly the same way about the queue and the donation at the Struth exhibition…