The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) has introduced a new subscription pass that it says will enable guests to enjoy its offerings more often. But the announcement has been met with mixed reactions online from regular visitors.
The largest public art museum in western Canada today unveiled a $5 monthly unlimited access pass that coincides with several upcoming changes to its operations.
This includes a weekly closure every Tuesday for exhibition and building-related maintenance starting in May and a “transition away from ‘by-donation’ nights.”
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“Ensuring all visitors who come through our doors have the opportunity to experience the entirety of what the Gallery has to offer is an important part of our vision and mission,” said Anthony Kiendl, CEO and director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, in a release. “Through initiatives like our Community Partnership Program and our daily complimentary admission for youth and children under 18 years, at least 20% of visitors come through the Gallery for free each year.
“By offering a new monthly subscription option for our access pass, we can further increase public access for everyone to enjoy our programs more often.”
Visitors can now pay $5 per month (plus a $29 activation fee) for unlimited access to exhibitions. However, reaction to VAG’s announcement on social media was mixed, with many calling out the gallery for what they see as hindering access for those on a limited budget.
“Ends ‘by donations night’ and replaces it with a subscription fee and calls it more inclusive all in the same post. Lmaaaooo, do y’all even hear yourselves?” said Tasha Havoc on VAG’s Facebook post.
“Under the new program people must pay $89 per year or $58 for the regular annual membership. So under the subscription model, you actually end up charging MORE than the regular membership and are pitching this to people who formerly might have used the donation option. That really sucks,” Laura-Beth McDonald commented on Facebook.
With donation night ending, what other plans are underway to ensure broad access to the gallery, including those with financial barriers?
— regular gem (@Choplogik) April 4, 2023
I wish I could think this was coming from a good place.
Fine, shut down a day for cleaning and special group tours.
Move the donation night to Monday then.
Or move ‘by donation’ to a 1 hr window on Wed night.
Whatever…you have options that you are not choosing to use
— Delta C (@Dee5285) April 4, 2023
Some commentators were in favour of the new monthly pass, stating that it will encourage them to go more often.
“I think this is great actually, now I can go anytime instead of just having to wait for Tuesday night,” said Bianca Freccia on Facebook.
“This has 100% made the VAG accessible to my family! Thank you,” added Molly Jay Davidson on the Instagram announcement.
The Gallery’s last “by-donation” night will take place on Tuesday, April 25.
VAG said that it will be better able to schedule customized tours for groups with specific accessibility requirements, such as sensory-friendly tours, by closing to the public on Tuesdays.
School tours will still be available on Tuesdays, and the Gallery Shop, Bistro, and Art Rental and Sales will remain open during the day.
VAG has also launched the Community Partnership Program, a new initiative to offer complimentary access for local registered not-for-profit organizations. Members of over 15 participating organizations serving communities in need can visit the Gallery for free whenever they wish.
“As a Community Partner, we are very excited that our members, team, and associates will have more access to the Vancouver Art Gallery,” said Littlewoo, lead coach at Curiko.ca, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be able to offer our community valuable cultural experiences with the level of accessibility that the Gallery will provide.”