So a museum is struggling, what with endowments slipping way way down, attendance numbers falling, and cutbacks abound. Add a massive new, expensive wing designed by a famous starchitect that’s set to open soon and what choice is there left to do but kick the price you’re charging for admission up a few bucks. Such is what you might have heard Chicago’s Art Institute recently did, to the tune of a 50% increase. Unfortunately, not all has gone as the museum had planned and now another hurdle stands in their way: the neighborhood’s alderman, Edward Burke, has decided that he doesn’t like the rate increase, seeing it as something that will prohibit less financially able citizens to visit the tax-payer supported museum, so he’s proposed that the city respond by stripping away the museum’s public subsidies, which come in at more than $5 million per year. And it’s not just the Art Institute he’s after, but any museum who crosses over the $10 per ticket threshold:
Noting that the Art Institute received a $6.6 million Park District subsidy last year, Burke said, “I know their endowment has probably suffered with the downturn in the economy. But that’s no excuse to stick it to the hard-working men and women of Chicago who are already paying taxes that subsidize these institutions who might like to take their kids to see these great treasures.”
For decades, churches, museums, hospitals and other non-profits have received free water from the city. They also get free building permits and waivers of license and inspection fees.