Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 140 - 159)



  140. Why is that? Is it not something that you have ever considered?
  (Dr Borg) It is not something that we have considered particularly.

  141. I asked you about the social class origins of your audience and you were delightfully vague about much of that and now it turns out that you do not measure the extent to which working class children come to your Museum on school trips. If you want to encourage people from right across the social spectrum you ought to be making an extra effort to encourage those who are least likely to come to your Museum in adulthood? Do you accept that as being fair?
  (Dr Borg) Again, I would say that the work we do with minority community schools in again particularly the London area is one of the most important aspects of our educational—

  142. Minority community schools. Does that mean Sikhs? Is that Asians? I am speaking about social class.
  (Dr Borg) Asians, Chinese, all minority groups in the London area.

  143. I am not talking about minority groups, I am talking about social class—working class and poor children. It seems fairly clear to me that you do not make much effort. Is this something you will consider in future?
  (Dr Borg) We certainly already do consider it and we will try and do more in that area.

  144. Could I ask one final point and it is addressed to Mr Young. I was slightly surprised to hear the Director indicating that he did not "feel pressure from the Government to increase numbers". That is not my understanding of what our policy is. Can you clarify.
  (Mr Young) I thought I heard him say he did not feel pressured to massage figures[9]. At least that is how I heard it, otherwise I would have been as unhappy as you. He does, I know, feel pressure to increase numbers but not to massage them.

  145. I think we both heard the same thing because our eyes met across a crowded room when I looked to see what your reaction was and I could see you looking up in surprise. You think it is a misunderstanding?
  (Mr Young) I am fairly certain the question was was there pressure to massage numbers and Alan Borg rightly said no. There certainly is pressure to increase numbers, not by massaging them but by bringing more visitors in.

  146. He has been singularly ineffective in increasing visitor numbers.
  (Mr Young) For which there are reasons and he got a full 13 per cent increase this year and we will be urging the Museum in discussion with them to do better in the following two years.

  Chairman: Mr David Rendel?

  Mr Rendel: I hope we will not have hundreds of thousands of auditors in massaging numbers; it might be unfortunate.

  Chairman: The C&AG has great ambitions!

Mr Rendel

  147. Can I start off, Dr Borg, by making a suggestion to you. You seem to want the museum to be more modern, up-to-date, starry, pop starry even, and yet to hold onto the concept of the V&A. Perhaps you could call your museum "The Museum Formally Known as the V&A". That would give you both aspects perhaps. You might like to think about that later. More seriously you said, I think, that 50 per cent of your visitors pay.
  (Dr Borg) Around that, yes.

  148. I did a quick calculation on that one. Your fee is about £5—it varies between museums—so 50 per cent paying would give you an average payment of £2.50 per visitor. At 1.27 visitors that should have given you nearly £3 million of income; you got £1.8 million. Where has the extra million gone? I am talking about the year 1999-2000.
  (Dr Borg) I do not have those figures immediately before me but again we can give you the breakdown.

  149. On Page 11 in Table 2 admission charges appear to have brought in £1.8 million. You have got the charges in Table 3 below, roughly £5 or £4.50, some of them free, but you said on average half of them paid.
  (Dr Borg) By no means are all £5, there are concessions. I can certainly let you have the breakdown of those figures but I do not have them in my head.

  150. I think we should have that because it seems like a large missing sum between £1.8 and £3 million. Can we ask for that, Chairman[10]. The second thing, you said in answer to one of my colleagues that it was only identifiable schools and education groups of that sort not the informal educational groups that counted as educational. Paragraph 2.19 says that there was a change made in 1999-2000 to include other groups but this had not been in the target and it was the only reason the target was exceeded that year. I do not quite understand your answer to the other question. You said it was only identifiable groups and yet there is the comment that appears on Page 22.

  (Dr Borg) The other groups that were included were not just school groups, they were adult education groups and so on. There are two sorts of groups that are not included, the sort of groups I have just mentioned, and also ones we simply do not know about. Quite a lot of groups would come to the Museum without telling us that they were coming. If we do not know they are coming and they are not seen when they are there, they cannot be counted.

  151. You are saying that those included in formal education which you are identifying as educational do now include the adult education as well?
  (Dr Borg) They now include everyone who comes in a group that is booked with the education department.

  152. And do you accept then, as the Report appears to say, that the target for 1999-2000 in terms of educational groups excluded those from the new lot that you included that year?
  (Dr Borg) That was simply a misunderstanding of what the Department required.

  153. And what are you now working on this year?
  (Dr Borg) We are now working on groups that are booked through the education department.

  154. That is what the target shows?
  (Dr Borg) Yes.

  155. The questions that Mr Davidson asked just now about whether we were talking about visits or visitor numbers were very interesting. I was going to ask some similar questions but there are still some interesting issues that arise there. You said 50 per cent were repeat visitors. Does that mean that of the 1.27 million visits half of those were first-time visits and half of them were second-time visits or beyond?
  (Dr Borg) Yes.

  156. So we have, roughly speaking, 600,000 people who came just once in that year and 630,000 who were either first, second, third, fourth or indeed 50th visits if they came once a week?
  (Dr Borg) Yes.

  157. Of the educational visits how many schools come once a year from educational establishments?
  (Dr Borg) We have a number of schools that come regularly. We do not have that figure with us, I am afraid.

  158. Roughly half your visitors are overseas visitors?
  (Dr Borg) Yes.

  159. How many of them come more than once?
  (Dr Borg) The great majority only come once because they are tourists and only make a single visit.

9   Note by Witness: See Q20, p.4. Back

10   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1, page 16 (PAC 00-01/127). Back

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