Published on March 3, 2013 | by Rory Moore


Is art becoming more accessible?

Mindfuck, a forthcoming exhibition

But as most of us are all too aware, these advertised shows often come with a fairly hefty price tag; most exhibitions tend to be at either Tate Modern or Tate Britain starting at around the £10 mark – even with a student discount.

Art Council England’s funding has been slashed by a further £3.9 million for 2013-14 and there is no hiding from the fact that these cuts will invariably be passed onto the museum and gallery attending public.

When discussing the Arts Council’s 2013-2015 budget cuts with The Guardian, Arts Council England chief executive Alan Davey said: “We must now look closely at the figures and decide how we will pass these cuts on.

“Some organisations are also having to deal with local authority cuts and so the situation is extremely challenging.”

We decided it was about time that the students of the UAL, the artists and designers of the future, started to get the most out of London’s gallery and performance spaces.

We have compiled this short guide outlining some of the options available to us all, which will make attending these fine institutions, just a little bit more friendly on the purse strings.

The National Art Pass

The National Art Pass is a subscription-based scheme that offers access to a number of exhibitions for free or at a reduced rate.

Starting in May 2011, the National Art Pass has been a huge success and with prices starting at £15 per year if bought through the student website, it is easy to see why.

Much like registering for an 18+ student Oyster Card you will need to select the college you attend and provide your student ID number which will save you £10 off the under-26 price of £25 – meaning it is not going to bankrupt you if you get your hands on one.

Similar to a 16-25 railcard, the small fee for signing up for a pass will soon pay itself off if you are a frequent exhibition visitor.

Cardholders get 50 per cent off at all major exhibitions within a number of London’s most visited and often most expensive galleries.

The National Art Pass has been a huge success and with prices starting at £15 per year if bought through the student website, it is easy to see why.

In London alone these include the British Museum, National Gallery, National History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, the Design Museum, Hayward Gallery, Science Museum, Tate Britain and Modern and the Whitechapel Gallery. It also offers free general admittance to 27 other London museums and galleries.

This large and varied number of participating galleries is something that Eve Matthews, 20, a fine art student at Chelsea College of Art and Design feels is important.

She said: “It’s good that so many places are getting involved with it. Most places charge around £14 a ticket nowadays so if you go to two galleries in a week it has paid for itself really.

“I only ever tend to go and pay for exhibitions which I know I’m definitely going to be interested in because some are quite expensive. But if they were half price I’d be more inclined to give something I wouldn’t necessarily go to otherwise a try,” she added.

The benefits of being an owner of a National Art Pass do not simply stop at cheaper admittance to some of the world’s best galleries and museums. The pass also offers the cardholder reduced prices and invites to lectures, events and private views.

The Art Fund will also send you the aptly-named ArtQuarterly, a free quarterly publication outlining all current and forthcoming exhibitions where you can use your Art Pass to get a 50 per cent discount.

Tate Membership

During 2012 the Tate put on 89 different exhibitions across its four galleries and at a number of external sites.

Of these, 29 were paid and housed at the Tate’s four galleries spread across England. With such an extensive program of exhibitions, it is no wonder that the Tate is synonymous with art.

With their five-month long retrospective of Damien Hirst’s work at Tate Modern, drawing in an incredible 463,087 visitors it is clear the Tate is, for many, the place to experience contemporary art.

Membership at the Tate starts at an annual £60 fee online and for this figure you obtain unlimited free entry to all of the exhibitions that the Tate puts on across all of its sites.

They will send you a copy of their TATE ETC publication as well as a bi-monthly ‘what’s on’ guide so that as a member you truly get the most out of your membership. Your membership also gets you fast-track entry, meaning lengthy queues are a thing of the past for cardholders.

When you split the Tate membership between two people and spread it across 12 months it comes out at £3.75 each.

This £60 annual fee, however, only grants the cardholder access. There is no possibility for a guest to come along for free. Which seems a little unsociable, but there is a plus guest option available when purchasing a membership.

This membership comes in at £90 for the year, which may at first seem like quiet a large sum, but when you split the figure between two people and spread it across the space of 12 months it comes out at £3.75 each – which is a very manageable figure indeed.

When you think about tickets for the current Lichtenstein retrospective at £12.20 a go – even with the student discount – the £45 unlimited annual figure starts to make a lot of sense.

Matthews said: “With places like the Tate, the membership makes sense. Last year I went to most of the bigger shows at Tate Modern and every time I’d go with a friend it would be around £30, which adds up over the year.

“Having the option to go back again is important I think. Sometimes it feels bigger galleries like the Tate don’t really take into account how many people should be in an exhibition at once.

“It just becomes too busy and a bit too much like hard work. So being able to go back again if it is too busy is always nice”.

The Old Vic and the Young Vic

Going to the theatre is an experience that all enjoy, but for most cash-strapped students going to see a production is unfortunately a tad too expensive.

With most West End institutions charging what most students’ food budget is for two weeks, attending the theatre is, for most, simply not an option.

However, the guys over at both the Young Vic and the Old Vic have us covered.

With a limited number of tickets being put aside for each night’s performance, priced at just £10 at the Young Vic and £12 at the Old Vic for those aged under 25 and for full time students.

These tickets are available but are fairly limited so booking in advanced is recommended as to avoid disappointment on the night.

We hope that with these tips and options you will be able to afford some of the many world class exhibitions and performances within London and beyond.



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