Washington’s National Cathedral will begin charging admission to visitors at the start of the new year.
On 21 November 2013, Robert Sokol, director of strategic programs at the Cathedral, told staffers and volunteers the cathedral’s pressing financial needs had compelled it to seek “new revenue opportunities”.
In a memo accompanying the announcement, Mr. Sokol stated the cathedral believed a $10 admissions fee for adults ($6 for children) would generate $150,000 in additional income in 2014. The change would not be risk free however.
“This change in entry policy has the potential to generate bad press. We will need a communication strategy to mitigate any voiced opposition raised by local constituencies,” he wrote, adding “those already upset – mainly neighbors, clergy, and Congregation members – with the installation of a suggested donation request at the door in 2011 may be even more upset when it is changed to a fixed admission.”
However, charging admission would likely generate increased sales for the gift shop and attract new members to the National Cathedral Association. Mr. Sokol said.
The cathedral “ran a deficit last year and might do so again this year and next if we do not find cost-savings and/or generate new revenue,” he explained.
“After cost-cutting efforts over that last few years, there isn’t much left to trim, so we are looking for new sources of revenue, or in the case of the west end, ways to enhance our revenue streams. All those coming to pray will be admitted free of charge, and all-day every Sunday will be completely free — with the exception of specialty tours.”
“This was not an easy decision to make,” Mr. Sokol wrote, but “with the suggested donation process currently in place, we have been able to avoid for two years moving to a fixed admission.”