Nature versus Nurture

Last week the Arts Council England finally launched their long-anticipated scheme to offer free theatre tickets to young people under the age of 26. The scheme, backed by some £2.5m, sees 618,000 free tickets available at over 200 venues across England. The scheme, A Night Less Ordinary, is heralded by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham and was launched by stars Rupert Penry-Jones and Sheridan Smith at the Donmar Warehouse last Wednesday. However, is this really the marvellous revelation that theatres have been looking for? The short answer is sadly…no. Giving away free theatre tickets will not develop sustainability. Charlotte Jones of the Independent Theatre Council told The Stage:

“There’s a feeling that it shows a lack of understanding of how the industry works and how you develop audiences for theatre. It’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem and it’s unsustainable.”

Doling out free tickets will not cultivate new audiences unless twinned with further projects to encourage and nurture those who take advantage of the scheme. Otherwise, this is just a freebie that devalues the secret shared. I will be interested to see how ACE report on the upshot of the scheme and whether it does indeed increase access.

theatreJunki © 2009

One Response to “Nature versus Nurture”
  1. theatrejunki says:

    Take a look at this beautiful parody of the free tickets theme from London’s neo-cabaret scene!

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