Memorandum submitted by the Victoria &
Albert Museum (PAC00-01/127)
"A loss of income of approximately £800,000"
£800,000 is in fact a substantial over-estimate.
The loss of income on the 320,000 visitors by which we fell short
of our target was rather between £550,000 and £650,000.
The suggested figure fails to take account of the fact that VAT
is levied on admission charges, and that a substantial percentage
of those visitors would have benefited from concessionary rate
entry, promotional discounts and season tickets.
Research conducted after the introduction of
charging concluded that there was no evidence that the overall
visitor profile had shifted. The proportion of visitors from socio-economic
groups C2, D and E, for example, remained static.
"The real cost per head of different people
is probably about £50 a head"
This suggestion dramatically over states the
effect of basing the calculation of grant in aid per head on the
number of visitors, rather than visits. The V&A does have
a core of very loyal visitors who visit more than once a month,
but together they account for only about 50,000 visits a year.
Although about 50 per cent of visits are made by repeating visitors,
relatively large proportions of these visit once a year or less.
Visitor surveys show that in 1999-2000, the V&A at South Kensington
was visited by at least 700,000 different people, out of 880,000
total visits. Well over 1 million different people visited the
V&A and its branch museums in that year.
Furthermore, since all museums and galleries
use the same convention, reporting visits rather than visitors,
it is misleading to suggest that the number of repeat visitors
makes the V&A comparatively more expensive than other museums.
Around 45,000 children visit the V&A each
year in school groups, are reported here. A further 30,000 visit
in family groups. The figure of 30,000 is used correctly in the
context of the gallery education programme, which is aimed at
independent learners. However, this figure is incorrectly quoted
on page 12, question 17 in the context of formal education, when
the figure of 45,000 should have been used.
Reconciliation of visitor numbers and admission
As stated at the hearing, about ½ (slightly
less) of all visitors pay, but not all pay full price.
|In 1999-2000, approximately
||30%||paid full price (£5)
||paid the concessionary rate (£3)
||benefited from other reduced rate admissions (e.g. season tickets allowing repeat visits, 2 for 1 offers and other promotions)
||paid a membership fee to the Friends organisation or the Patrons scheme
VAT has to be accounted for on receipts so the net receipt
on a £5 admission, for instance, is £4.55.
The published admissions revenue of £1.8 million includes
branch museums; £1.6 million of the total related to South
The figures therefore reconcile as:
||Revenue net of VAT (£000)
|Season tickets/promotional offers||78
||1,595||South Kensington component of published £1.8 million from all sites
|Friends and Patrons||11
||40||received via donation from Friends organisation reported under donations rather than admissions income
|Total paying visitors||414
|47% of total
The following information about the profile of the schools
visiting the V&A was requested. We should like to emphasise
that, before any conclusions can be drawn from these figures,
they should be compared with similar data from other museums.
The data is based on an analysis of a random sample of 250 recent
80 per cent of schools visiting the V&A are
from the state sector. In England as a whole, 90 per cent of all
schools are in the state sector. These figures do suggest that
the V&A has a slightly higher proportion of visits from independent
schools than would be the case of its school visits profile completely
mirrored the profile of the sector as a whole. However most school
visits to the V&A are from schools in London and the South
East where only 85 per cent of schools are in the state sector.
Moreover, great care must be taken in interpreting these figures
in the absence of any comparative data from other museums. Anecdotal
evidence suggests that independent schools make a greater number
of museum visits than state schools and the V&A's school visits
profile is unlikely to be unusual in this respect.
Many of the state schools visiting the V&A
have a high proportion of pupils from lower socio-economic groups.
33 per cent of secondary state schools visiting the V&A have
above average numbers of children taking free school meals; for
primary state schools, the figure rises to 65 per cent.
(Source of comparative data: DFEE statistics Schools 2000).
Victoria & Albert Museum
11 April 2001