York Art Gallery

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York Museums Trust was created as an independent charity to look after the city’s museums, gardens and gallery on behalf of the city.

One of our first decisions was to remove the Council levied entrance charge to York Art Gallery making it free to all visitors.

Like the protestors on Saturday, we would have liked this to continue, but we have been forced to make the very difficult decision to charge.

The Council has massively reduced their financial support to the Trust claiming it to be a necessity due to the current climate of austerity.

In 2012 the Trust was asked to consider operating on reduced support from the Council.

We understood the Council’s difficulties and negotiated a five year funding agreement for 2013-18 of a guaranteed £1.2m per year, accepting a cut of £300k in annual revenue funding.

Since then the council has broken the terms of that agreement, cutting £100k last year and a further £500k in April.

Next year the indications are that yet another £300k cut will be imposed, though we have not yet been consulted on what the implications of that would be.

In various meetings with the council, stretching back to early 2014, the Trust made it very clear what an unavoidable impact such severe cuts would have, including the necessity to charge.

No formal agreement was reached with the Council but, as a registered charity we have a legal obligation to care for the buildings and collections and to remain solvent.

The timing of the election overshadowed public discussion of the implications and has led to the subsequent confusion.

These huge cuts mean we have to generate revenue in other ways. We already do this through our shops, cafes and by hosting weddings and events, but admissions income is now more important than ever.

How do other museums and galleries remain free? In short, national museums receive around £400 million a year from the national government. This funding isn’t available to regional museums.

Despite having to care for one of the largest designated collections in the country, York Museums Trust is now one of the museum services least supported by its local authority.

This year’s £600,000 funding does not even cover the costs of maintaining and securing the historic sites and collections in our care, so we are having to make very difficult decisions.  Further cuts will no doubt lead to more difficult decisions.

York residents have always made a contribution to the Trust’s running costs through Council Tax. However, because the Trust’s revenue from the Council has been so drastically cut, those who choose to visit are now asked to make a direct contribution through charging.

It is true that tourists and people from outside the city make up the majority of our visitors, but it is no longer economically possible to overlook the funding support that could be made by charging residents.

The decision to charge £7.50 for a one off visit to York Art Gallery was the result of much thought and research and the figure is in line with other attractions in the city.

But we hope residents will buy the new YMT Card which they can get for as little as £10 a year with a York Card, offering 12 months access to the York Art Gallery, York Castle Museum and Yorkshire Museum.

This reduces to £5 a year for anyone aged 17-24 or on most forms of benefit. Children under 16 will continue to get in free. We believe that this is very good value.

It is against this financial landscape that the Trust is working to make York’s museums and gallery both excellent and sustainable and to do this we need the support of residents.

The newly developed York Art Gallery is now generally held to be of international standard. This will significantly enhance York’s cultural offer and be of benefit to the city’s tourist profile as well as being a cultural resource for residents.

Your Comments

  1. anne greatwood |

    I have a card from The Art Fund does this give me a different admission charge? Thank You for your assistance with this enquiry. Anne Greatwood

    1. Mike Linstead |

      Hi Anne

      Yes the Art Fund card allows free admission to York Art Gallery.

      Many thanks,
      Mike Linstead

      Acting Marketing Manager
      York Museums Trust

  2. Tom |

    My family got YORK card 2adults 2 kids, hw much it,ll cost us without a YMT card pls.

    1. Mike Linstead |

      Hi Tom

      Thanks for your enquiry. Children aged 16 and under are free to visit York Art Gallery and the new YMT card is £11 per adult with a valid York Card or £6 per adult if you are in receipt of income-related support allowance. Please see the tickets page for full details: https://www.yorkartgallery.org.uk/your-visit/tickets/

      Mike Linstead

      Acting Marketing Manager
      York Museums Trust

  3. Gerald Samociuk |

    Hi, is there a concession rate for over 60s?

    1. Mike Linstead |

      Hi Gerald

      Unfortunately there isn’t a concession rate for over 60’s however we do have an access ticket for anyone in receipt of Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Income–based Job seeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit or Income Support.

      Please see our tickets page for the full information:


      Many thanks,
      Mike Linstead

      Acting Marketing Manager
      York Museums Trust

  4. Jo |

    I just wanted to say that not all York residents feel the same. I feel it is really important that where necessary charges are made to avoid us losing our precious art, and access to it. It’s great you’ve now made changes to allow a reduction through a York Card. Galleries and museums can’t run on thin air, and it’s a bigger conversation around who funds them but York residents should be doing everything they can to safeguard their museums and galleries. £10 on direct debit plus £5 for a York Card (and I support Explore charging for that too, as the library provides me with many precious books I would otherwise have to buy) is only a couple of drinks these days, or a lunch. I am sure many of the people complaining can afford this. I am not wealthy, and I struggle by like everyone else but I think it’s so important we help financially as a community to support our arts and culture venues.