Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Free Museums? No Thanks!

When we visited the waterways museum, they gave us a leaflet about lobbying for free museum entry, funded by the Government. (Details here)

I don't agree with this. We already pay way too much in taxes for things we don't want on the assumption that a small amount from everyone equates to a big pot of money for good causes. Unfortunately, it isn't small amounts any more, it is nearly half of what you own.

They say it will secure financial stability, double visitor numbers and raise waterways to the national importance it deserves alongside coal, rail and maritime, all free to enter.

However, I think this is a cop-out. Getting given a bucket of taxpayer funding will make them complacent and stagnate. Having to work hard to get visitors to pay makes it worthwhile if they succeed. Those who want to come will pay anyway. There are lots of revenue streams related to the Inland Waterways for licensing, mooring fees and the like a lot closer to the interested parties than just all and sundry who happen to pay tax.

There is the risk, of course, that the museum could go bust without the funding. However, what is it that is causing it to be unprofitable, assuming it owns the freeholds? How about salary costs, compliance, health & safety, reluctance of volunteers because of bureaucratic hoops? The Government is the problem, not the solution.

Looking around the collections, it is apparent that the artefacts came together by the enormous efforts of a small band of passionate volunteers. Long may that prosper in all walks of life and I hope I'm doing my small bit to get a few more visitors along.


Liz said...

No, sorry, I think museums should be free. I read this post earlier and was thinking about it when out walking and I had some wonderful reasons behind my argument; I can't remember them now. It's late.

Liz said...

It went something along the lines of: knowledge, information, education should be freely available. It's a basis for democracy.

Delicolor said...

Liz, they are freely available now- on the Internet. Something our generation never had as children.

These things may appear free in Society but they aren't free at all- we pay for them through (the nose via) taxes. I'd rather pay for them directly as my choice rather than have it taken off me by force.

Only academics can get a British Library readers card, by the way.

Delicolor said...

Liz, the basis for society is freedom (of speech, action and thought), liberty (to do what you want provide it doesn't impact on others) and respect for property rights.

We don't live in a democracy.