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Te Papa entry fee won’t deter overseas tourists

Mar 30th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Te Papa faces reduced funding if a Wellington City Council sponsorship cut goes ahead. CHRISTINA HYDE-FITZWATER and KIMBERLEY McCOMBIE report on the implications:

IF Te Papa starts charging people entry to make up for funding cuts, tourists aren’t likely to complain.

An informal survey of museum-goers shows most overseas visitors would willingly pay a small entry fee, but the same can’t be said for locals.

They were more cautious saying it may warn off people from visiting the museum.

Newswire asked visitors what they thought Te Papa had to offer and what they thought about a proposal by one of the major sponsors to chop its sponsorship by 55%, from the current $2.25 million to $1 million.

“Things should be free so everyone has access, but just a small fee then I’m sure people can still go,” the UK’s Chris Ahmed (right) told NewsWire.

The museum covered all aspects of New Zealand life and she was very impressed with her experience, she said.

Cipora Blitz (left) from the US said introducing a small fee of $10 for adults and $5 for children may compensate for the council pulling part of its funding.

“They should continue to support, not completely take away all the funding from a cultural place like Te Papa.”

Irish tourist, Andrew O’Conner said Te Papa is well set up and would still be worth it if there was a small entry fee.

“We are a group of 10 travelling and we spent a good few hours in there. If it wasn’t good we would have left long ago.” he said.

Warren Smith, Christchurch, said Te Papa is a great place to visit and would be worth going even if there was an admission fee: “It stinks if the council are going to cut some of it support.”

Lower Hutt resident Craigie Griffiths brought two overseas visitors to experience Te Papa and she may not have brought them if she had to pay, she said.

“I think the council should keep it maintained because then it is something people want to come to instead of it getting run down.”

Charline Crosier, France, (right) said Te Papa having no admission fee means more people can discover new things and a fee may discourage that.

“It is interesting to find out about the Maori culture because we are not from New Zealand,” she said.

Wanganui resident Rene Schmidt (left) disagreed with the council’s plans to cut some of its share of funding and said that having no fee admission makes it special.

“It’s a great, awesome museum with a lot of activities especially good for kids to learn,” he said.

Wellingtonian Mark Bunyan (right) said the funding changes do not sound very good, as it may end up with the museum having to charge fees.

“It’s a lot more interesting than most museums around New Zealand and more interactive,” he said.

Councillors will be finalising the draft plan in the coming weeks and then it will be open for public submissions from April 16 until May 18.

Museum will appeal funding cut

TE PAPA will be appealing the Wellington City Council’s proposal to cut its funding by more than half.

The museum has until May 18 to appeal to the council: “We would like a chance to talk about something that involves us,” says Te Papa communications manager Filipo Katavake-McGrath.

City Council spokesperson Richard MacLean says submissions on the council’s draft plan – which covers sponsorship to organisations like Te Papa – open to the public on April 16, and a decision on any cut to Te Papa’s funding will be made by late June.

If the council sponsorship reduction goes ahead, it will have a dramatic impact on Te Papa exhibitions and also front-line and exhibition support jobs, says Mr Katavake-McGrath.

“[There are] so many ways the potential cuts could affect future exhibitions,” he says.

The question of whether Te Papa will have to charge a door fee or charge more has cropped up a lot recently, he says.

“It’s the $1.25 million dollar question.”

The $1.25 million would be the deficit between what they currently get from the council ($2.26 million) and what the council proposes to reduce it to, he says.

They may have to consider having more exhibitions with an entry fee, but it is the reality of losing this chunk of money.

The pressure is on all the commercial parts of Te Papa to make up the money, which includes the car park, functions and conferences venues, and gift shops, he says.

Also affected is the Te Papa café, which is part of the business unit, and brings in $12 million a year.

Te Papa makes nearly half of its budget from these commercial enterprises, so effectively they will be adding more of a load to their work.

He says NZ is still in a tight economic environment when government contributions won’t rise, but basic costs will.

One of the arguments Te Papa will be using against the proposal is the impact on the tourism industry in Wellington.

If the cuts were to go ahead, then there would be a negative impact on the quality and experiences visitors would receive.

If the total experience is not good, then visitors may spend less, which affects businesses here in Wellington, he says.

Te Papa’s list of sponsors includes GNS Science, the Earthquake Commission, Wellington City Council, TVNZ, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Visa, and Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

In return for sponsorship, Te Papa promotes its sponsors and tries to include them in the museum where possible.

“We try to give the best business experience and help them achieve their [company] goals”.

The Earthquake Commission declined to comment on the reasons behind the cuts, but says it will still support Te Papa.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson says the cuts will have no impact on the sponsorship agreement, EQC has with Te Papa.

The commission gives Te Papa $500,000 a year, and in return, information about the commission and earthquake safety is distributed to Te Papa’s visitors.

“The museum does this through exhibitions, online material, programmes for schools, publications and special events, [and] information about geological hazards,” says Mr Simpson.

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  1. The Council is being small minded and Scrooge like in its thinking.

    Perhaps we need to reconsider the value of Te Papa?
    (a) What change in revenue [if any ] would occur if an entry charge was made?
    (b) what decline [if any] in visitor numbers to Wellington may occur if a charge is applied?
    (c) What income does the Wellington City Council get directly and indirectly from Te Papa visitors?
    (d) Let us assume that the Council withdraws 1.25 million. Perhaps a method needs to be devised where the Council is levied a fee by Te papa as recompense for the revenues the Council gets as a consequence of Te Papa’s operation? Would this levy be as great as the reduction of financial support or greater?

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