Museum defends new annual charges

A MUSEUM manager has defended the decision to raise charges for their biggest supporters by nearly 100% for some tickets - saying the attraction is struggling to survive.

By John Howard

A MUSEUM manager has defended the decision to raise charges for their biggest supporters by nearly 100% for some tickets - saying the attraction is struggling to survive.

The Museum of East Anglian Life has this year increased annual tickets for its 800 “friends”, with a £15 adult ticket going up to £18; a £20 couples ticket up to £34; a £5 child ticket up to £10 and family tickets up from £25 to £49.

Harry Barnett, operations manager at the museum set in 70 acres in the centre of Stowmarket, has appealed to people to continue supporting them.


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He said yesterday: “We are always fighting to survive. There is so much competition these days. We are trying to give the best possible visitor experience and doing lots of new things and want to work with the friends.

“This is not a war, but we have got to be realistic about our survival. Some friends are unhappy, we understand that, but they have got to appreciate our situation.

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“We are not bankrupt, but we are struggling. In the climate today it's a hard existence and we need to fight to remain in existence. Please support us.''

Mr Barnett said they have had discussions with the friends and they are being offered a special deal for the first year of the rises.

Friends can have their season tickets renewed free of charge this year, and will then be offered a 10% discount on the new season ticket prices next year.

The friends of the museum have been in existence as long as the museum, more than 30 years, and give money towards specific things the museum needs.

Ron Pattle, president of the friends, said: “Some people are bound to have been disgruntled, but I think it is still very, very good value. We had been getting in with our membership of the friends very, very cheaply and have done so for many years.

“In reality when you compare it with other museums and what they do, the prices are very, very good. I am quite happy to pay it.''

But a number of other museum supporters, who have contacted the EADT, said they would not be renewing their membership and were annoyed at the hike.

The museum, opposite Asda in the town centre, holds many events during the summer including a history fair and even beer festival in their Medieval barn. It attracts thousands of visitors and is used by many schoolteachers who take their classes around the exhibits.

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