Art lovers can now explore one of the best collections of modern British art in the world for free when Pallant House Gallery drops its entrance fees on Thursday evenings from 5-8pm as the first step in an ongoing campaign to raise enough money to scrap admission charges to the Collections for good.
Visitors will be able to join in the free weekly themed tours at 6pm, browse in the onsite Bookshop and linger over dinner in the critically-acclaimed Field and Fork restaurant
The Gallery took the first step towards offering free entry in May last year with the launch of the 'Free entry by 2012' campaign which aimed to raise £6m towards the Gallery's endowment fund to secure the future of the Gallery's existence and offer free admission to the Collections.
However changes in the economic climate have prompted the decision to stagger the introduction of free entry beginning with Thursday evenings (5-8pm) from 7 October 2010.
The only exception would be some costly temporary exhibitions which could incur a modest admission fee on a Thursday evening.
Stefan van Raay, Director of Pallant House Gallery says: "This is proof that we are committed to the principle of free access to the collections. The financial climate has changed dramatically since the launch of the campaign and it is now unlikely we can raise the necessary £6 million by 2012. However, it is with great pleasure that from 7 October we introduce the first step with free access to the Collections on Thursday evenings."
Currently 80% of the Gallery's annual budget has to be found through admission fees and other income sources while 20% is received from the Chichester District Council and Arts Council England. Pallant House Gallery receives no subsidies from central Government.