Arts Council offers free tickets

Sunday 15th February 2009

Arts Council England
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Last week, Arts Council England made a concerted bid to consolidate their hip cred by launching A Night Less Ordinary, their young people’s free theatre initiative, by means of which more than 200 venues across England will give away 618,000 free tickets to the under-26s during the next two years. The scheme is supported by £2.5 million additional funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Attendance at arts events traditionally drops in the 18-26 age range so this initiative is specifically targeted at young adults. The scheme has a hip name, and was unveiled at the Donmar Warehouse, a hip theatre, with support from Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones and West End performer Sheridan Smith. Both, well, quite hip. So far so hip. Shouldn’t we all be applauding? Well, Pirate Dog doesn’t think so. He reckons that the Arts Council is pandering to the yoof again, and typically neglecting its core constituency, the greyhairs. Didn’t anyone ever tell the Arts Mandarins that offering something for free simply devalues it, he growls, and that trying to drag youngsters into theatres is a waste of time? Give that theatre’s a difficult art form that demands much patience and acute attention, perhaps it’s best to let people discover it for themselves. So, says Pirate Dog, Wise up! Let theatres cultivate their own audiences… without crass incentives and hip schemes. And, if there’s money to spare, give it to the creatives!

© Aleks Sierz

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