A press night performance of Grease at London's Dominion Theatre on May 17, 2022. Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Getty Images

Society England2. January 2023

Why Leave Theater Seats Empty? Let’s Give Out Free Tickets Instead!

London, England’s capital, is launching a pilot program to give away a thousand unsold tickets for cultural shows every week to people who can’t afford them in an attempt to democratize access to culture.

“People who are suffering as a result of the cost of living also need access to the community, entertainment, and things that warm the soul,” explains Chris Sonnex, the artistic director at Cardboard Citizens, a performing arts organization for people with experience of homelessness.

As the cost of living is skyrocketing, a growing number of citizens can’t afford cultural outings. The Ticket Bank, an arts-oriented variation of a food bank, will give away up to 1,000 free or pay-what-you-can tickets for theater, dance, music, and comedy shows every week. The National Theater, the Roundhouse, the Barbican, the Almeida, Gate Theatre, Bush Theatre, and Tara theatre are all taking part in the pilot program which will take place from January to December 2023. Other major cities, like Quebec in Canada and Brussels in Belgium, have already embarked on programs to invigorate interest in the arts. Twice a year, New York offers tickets at a majorly discounted rate for its popular shows.

The Smithsonian Magazine

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