YORK Art Gallery will charge for entry when its doors reopen on August 1 following an £8 million refurbishment.

It is not clear yet whether entry will remain free for York Card holders.

That was one of a number of “difficult issues” that would need to be thrashed out with whoever is in charge of the city council following the elections, said York Museums Trust chief executive Janet Barnes.

But adult visitors from outside York will have to pay £7.50 for entry to the gallery: or £22 for a year’s membership of the Yorkshire Museums Trust, which will give free entry for 12 months to all the Trust’s museums and galleries.

Children under 16 will continue to enjoy free entry to the gallery. And there will be 50 per cent discounts for young people aged 17 to 24, people on some income-related befits, and those on pension credits.

The decision to introduce charges at the gallery comes in the wake of a recent £500,000 cut in the Museums’ Trust’s annual grant from the city council.

Dr Barnes said charging for entry to the art gallery was one of a series of changes designed to make the Museums Trust sustainable in the future. Another is the launch of a new “YMT Card” which, for £22 a year, will give free entry to the art gallery and the Yorkshire and Castle Museums.

The art gallery will also be available for hire in the evenings. And it will be using volunteers alongside paid staff for the first time.

But Dr Barnes stressed the latest budget cuts would not see any Museums Trust staff lose their jobs.

In fact, 11 extra full-time-equivalent posts were being created, she stressed.

With more austerity cuts likely in future, she said putting the Museums Trust on a more businesslike footing so it was less reliant on public funding was the only way to ensure its future. “We need a different business model, more around being a cultural business rather than a cultural service. That’s how we will survive,” she said.

The trust reintroduced free entry to the gallery in the early 2000s, which led to to a 200 per cent increase in visitor numbers in the first year.

Greg McGee, co-director at the According to McGee gallery on Tower Street, backed charging for entry in the current financial climate, saying: “York Art Gallery has become part of the cultural landscape of the city but culture is just as vulnerable to cuts as anything else and at this time I think it is the right decision.

“For the price of four coffees you get to experience greatness. When new exhibitions come round I will not hesitate to pay that fee to see them.”

But Anna Cook, picture framer at The Braithwaite Gallery on Low Petergate, said: “I suppose in one sense it makes sense because they have money to make back from the refurbishment but at the same time that is quite a lot because most art galleries, even in London, are free to get into.”