Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto has formalized its commitment to young art lovers. The museum announced its decision to officially continue a pilot program introduced in May of this year that offers free membership to the museum to patrons aged 18 to 25. Prior to the pilot and for guests over 25, an annual museum membership costs $35 and a single visit $25. Budding art enthusiasts hoping to score a free membership can do so in exchange for personal information such as email and postal code. The AGO also offers complimentary admission to all Indigenous peoples.
As reported by AGO to 660 News, more than 100,000 people have signed up for museum membership during the six-month trial period, and some 70% are between the ages of 14 and 25 and claiming free passes.
“When we announced our bold revamp to our pricing model last spring, the public response was immediate,” said Stephan Jost, the AGO’s Director and CEO, in an email to Hyperallergic. “Visitors between the ages of 14 and 25 now account for roughly 70 per cent of Annual Passholders and there is a new energy and vibrancy you can sense in the galleries.”
The statistics are impressive, especially considering that AGO annual passholders now represent some 10% of youth in Toronto. According to the AGO press release, at time of publication, visitors between the ages of 14 and 25 accounted for 72,940 of AGO annual passholders. The most recent Statistics Canada Census Profile of Toronto indicates that there are approximately 778,470 people between the ages of 15 and 24 living in the city.
“We are excited to say that the new model is here to stay,” said Jost. “With one in ten of Toronto’s young people now belonging to our Annual Pass program, the next generation of art lovers is here!”