A £5 ticket scheme has been launched by Tate to increase the number of young people going to ticketed exhibitions.
It can cost up to £22 to see a blockbuster exhibition at Britain’s national galleries, which means the vast majority of visitors are from older age groups.
On Tuesday Tate’s director, Maria Balshaw, announced details of a scheme called Tate Collective, the first free-to-join membership scheme for 16 to 25-year-olds at any UK national museum. Anyone of that age, anywhere in the world, can join and get discounts in Tate’s cafes and shops as well as £5 entry per person for themselves and three friends.
Currently, 16 to 25-year-olds make up less than a tenth of the audience for Tate exhibitions. Balshaw said she now expects that figure to increase quickly, without it costing a great deal. “Nothing in life is free but because this is about growth in audience we anticipate it will pay for itself.”
Tate also plans to appoint a trustee to represent the views of young people.
Balshaw said: “We are acting on what 16 to 25-year-olds say they want so that we can make the changes needed for future generations. Our sector should be shaped by their creative energy and their message to us is clear: arts institutions should plan with, not for them.”
Ticket prices for exhibitions have crept up over recent years. In 2012 it cost visitors £16 to see the big Leonardo da Vinci show at the National Gallery. Weekend tickets for its current Monet show are £22. Standard entry to Tate Modern’s Matisse show in 2014 was £16.30, while it current Picasso show is £22.
Balshaw said affordability was an issue and Tate had other shows with cheaper tickets as well as discount schemes for older people. “Larger exhibitions are more expensive to make and have a higher ticket price,” she said.
For legal reasons, Tate cannot specify an age range for the new trustee, but they will be expected to have a “commitment, connection and real insight” into the generation born after 1978, Balshaw said.
Tate’s initiative has been supported by the culture secretary, Matt Hancock. He said: “Young people are the cultural leaders of the future and it is important we do all we can to support their creativity and ideas.”