ARTS impresario Richard Demarco has called on museums and galleries’ chiefs in Edinburgh to abandon opening restrictions after cost-cutting led instead to huge cash losses and plummeting visitor numbers.

Mr Demarco, below, made the call as a report revealed Edinburgh City Council is to review its policy of reducing opening hours at five attractions to five days a week after visitor numbers fell by 21 per cent and the facilities lost a quarter of their income.

HeraldScotland:

The report prompted an angry response, with Mr Demarco saying he was “absolutely horrified” at the findings.

The council is to hold opening hours talks next week at its culture and communities committee.

Donald Wilson, city culture convener, has admitted a rethink is needed and said he will put forward “financially viable options for alternative opening hours”.

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Mr Demarco said he was appalled by the report and that immediate action to reinstate full opening hours was required.

He said: “Edinburgh boasts the fact it's the world capital of culture every festival, but these facts question whether it is fit to assume that title.

“I would hate to think that this year are we are going to have the same drop in numbers.

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“It is purely to do with money, it is nothing to do with the moral duty of the people running this city to defend all manifestations of the cultural life of the city.

“Now we are fully aware of what’s happening, it is not good enough and I hope and pray that every member of the council will agree with me.”

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Neil Cooper, Herald critic and arts campaigner, echoed Mr Demarco’s concern, saying the report shows “closing the doors to culture will only help kill it”.

He said: “Edinburgh is a capital city, and has a responsibility towards its cultural assets beyond a penny-pinching attempt to monetise it.

“It is vital that all city museums are open to the public seven days a week.”

Opening hours at the five sites – which include the Museum of Edinburgh, the Museum of Childhood and the City Art Centre – were reduced from six or seven days to five in 2016.

That year, £82,000 was saved in wages, against a loss of £76,000 in income, with £84,000 in pay projected to be saved in 2017/18 if the policy continues.

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The initial savings target when the plan was consulted on in 2015 was reported as being £447,000.

The number of visitors had previously been stable at around 500,000 a year across the sites, including People's Story and the Writers' Museum.

But since the change, that number has fallen by 21 per cent, with 100,000 fewer visitors through the doors.

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The City Art Centre lost 43 per cent of its income and one-third of its visitors in the year the facility was open for five days only.

During the same time period, the National Galleries of Scotland, which is not run by the council and is open seven days a week, had a 16 per cent increase in visitor numbers.

The council venues are free to visit but have an events and merchandise arm which brings in £300,000 a year.

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Mr Wilson said the committee “must consider whether the new model remains the most effective”.

“Thought must be given to whether it delivers the best value for money and most positive visitor experience.

“I will be asking members of the committee to agree to officers bringing forward a further report in March, exploring financially viable options for alternative opening hours which may be brought in ahead of the peak summer season.”