Free museums are economic idiocy

Ten years on since the Labour government abolished museum charges
Oliver Kamm, writing in today?s Times, describes the policy as economic idiocy.
The case for the importance of museums as part of our ?common culture? is well
made he argues, we subsidise the English National Opera and the Royal
Shakespeare Company but we do expect them to give away free tickets. If we did expect
that ?their revenues would collapse and their theatres would be unable to cope
with demand?. Kamm argues that that is what is happening in our museums.

The museums have not benefitted from the rise in the numbers
of visitors who have to be managed and the wear and tear they cause has to be repaired
? that costs money.

Kamm argues that allowing free entry to foreign tourists,
one third of visitors to national museums, makes no sense. Why subsidise their
holidays? ?This country?s cultural inheritance will be diminished the longer
that this misconceived policy remains.?

Why should our museums be free to foreign tourists? It is a good question.

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Harold Goodwin