Why £x.99? – helping the disabled via art – admission price discussion

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Thursday 29 September 1664

…Coming home to-night, I did go to examine my wife’s house accounts, and finding things that seemed somewhat doubtful, I was angry though she did make it pretty plain, but confessed that when she do misse a sum, she do add something to other things to make it, and, upon my being very angry, she do protest she will here lay up something for herself to buy her a necklace with, which madded me and do still trouble me, for I fear she will forget by degrees the way of living cheap and under a sense of want...

I am covering many aspects of money during these writings. This diary of Pepys is about his wife being afraid to ask for money for herself and fiddling the books to put some aside secretly. He is also concerned that she will forget frugal ways.

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Off to Wells to further participate in the two week Somerset Arts event. First to a celebration of paper making and its uses.  Paper Prospects is the working name of this collaboration and the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen is the umbrella organisation founded in 1933. I wont start to discuss this ancient art and the sheer number of type of paper there are. Here are some examples of the work found therein, not necessarily made of paper.

A quilt map of Wells (Ctrl and + repeatedly to magnify the image)
these machines have not changed in decades
never seen such modelling work. very clever.
done on special paper to bring out the transcendence of the words

Off to Wells Town Hall. The majority of it is used for exhibitions and fairs. The actual council offices are small but I guess the commercial rental pays for the upkeep. Not much to see so off to the Bishops Garden wherein is an art exhibition run by SODA, the Society for Disabled Artists. The remarkable lady who showed us around told us of the life changing effect of supposedly ‘disabled’ people finding they were very good at painting and drawing. The sign on the door was a winner.

This sign warmed my heart by its humanity and clarity
examples
somehow the girl’s face was raised up in 3D fashion
on to a stone carver in the Bishops Palace Gardens

On to Wells Museum, on the Green. I always engage with the affable and friendly volunteers. It struck me that the admission price of £3 was low and I therefore volunteered that since anything below £5 was small change, they could as well charge £4 and few people would mind. I then witnessed much hand waving and balancing motions. Some people think it should be free, comparing it with Bristol’s City Museum, and complained accordingly. They had to be informed that the Wells equivalent is a charity and has to be entirely self funded. Apparently, the complaining people quietened down after digesting that fact. I suggested that to pre-empt the complaints, on the price list itself should be the legend that “this institution enjoys no subsidy and relies entirely on entrance charges and book sales”.

We also discussed why everything is £x.99. The answer evidently lies in psychology. Shoppers attach disproportional weight to the left digit, and 99p is associated historically with discounts. I don’t know how long this BBC article will stay up but here it is anyway.

*****

On to the Wells Cathedral School, well know known for the quality of its music, its educational standards and its sport. We arrived at the very posh Cedars Hall, a concert hall clearly, and found about 50 works. There was no signage so we had to ask around, and no one to greet us. Never mind, I found the art works produced by 17 and 18 year old pupils quite extraordinary if not a little worrisome. What are they thinking?

self molestation?
a comment on junk food?
atavistic observation?
some of the pupils
and guess who opened the building

We then set off for Glastonbury to view the recently re-opened Somerset Rural Life Museum, a stone’s throw from the Tor. Since I have so many images to show you, this will be dealt with in Part 2

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