Newcastle Art Gallery and museum entry fee shelved

PROPOSED entry fees into Newcastle Art Gallery and the museum remain up in the air after last week's council meeting.

Council staff proposed a $5 adult ticket and a $2 children's ticket to enter each of the institutions as part of the council's 2014-15 operational plan.

However, in a report to councillors, staff recommended gallery and museum changes to the operational plan be deferred while the council works out a full pricing structure.

At the meeting, councillor Lisa Tierney backed calls to keep entry free.

She said it was "poor governance" for the council to propose the fees without properly working out the financial consequences.

Cr Michael Osborne said admission fees would have a negative impact on Newcastle's economy.

He also said entry to the museum increased three-fold when it dropped its admission fee in 1996.

His argument was backed by Cr Tim Crakanthorp, adding that Newcastle residents were already facing an 18 per cent rate increase soon and should not have to pay more money to access local facilities.

Cr Brad Luke argued that charging an entry fee to either of the two institutions was like charging children to use the local sports grounds, which they did through their club fees.

He said the council invested $4.5 million a year - close to $100,000 a week, into those two facilities, and people should be charged to enter them.

Lord mayor Jeff McCloy used his casting vote in Labor councillor Nuatali Nelmes' absence to pass the plan.

But with council staff still working out a fee structure for the museum and the gallery, the new motion will face another round of voting in the coming months.

It may not pass if all councillors are present.

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