Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has today unveiled a new £2.5 million scheme which aims to offer one million free theatre tickets to anyone under 26 years old over the next two years.
The scheme, which will run between February 2009 and March 2011, could see 95 venues nationwide regularly offer a proportion of seats for free to young theatregoers.
“This investment means that a whole new audience will get the chance to enjoy the best our theatre has to offer. Theatres up and down the country will get the chance to work with us to provide a million free tickets to productions over the next two years. So it will be good for theatres who will see their audience broaden, and it will be good for actors who play at their best when performing to a full house,” Burnham commented.
This new initiative, which was conceived as a result of the McMaster Report on excellence in the arts, will primarily include venues that receive funding from Arts Council England or local authorities. Though there has been no formal announcement about participating organisations at this point, as this will be decided through a bidding process, the scheme could include venues such as the Almeida, Barbican, Bush, Donmar Warehouse, Hackney Empire, Hampstead, Lyric Hammersmith, National Theatre, Royal Court, Soho, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Tricycle and Young Vic. Many of these venues already run discount ticket schemes of their own.
“Culture has the power to change lives. I’ve seen it myself so many times. A young person attending the theatre can find it an exhilarating experience, and be inspired to explore new horizons. But sometimes people miss out on it because they fear it’s ‘not for them.’ It’s time to change this perception,” stated Burnham. “England’s theatre is among the best in the world, and it’s only right that it should be available to the widest audience possible.”
Young people wishing to find out more about going to the theatre can view our short film.