Friday, 9 January 2009

Should venues give free tickets to the newly laid off?

I've been a little slow getting going here since returning to work - a combination of pressing work to do and some technical issues. Anyway: Happy New Year.

I'll start with what I think is a cheering story of the arts responding to the economic doom and gloom, in Maryland, USA. Maryland Citizen's for the Arts and arts organisations in the state are providing free and subsidised tickets for state employees who are being forced to take unpaid leave to balance the state government's books. You can read the details here .

The McMaster-inspired scheme to give free theatre tickets to young people has not been uncontroversial. Some have said it could undermine long-term audience development, others have embraced it as a chance to break into new areas. We will see how those successful in the recent bids fare. But the Maryland scheme seems unequivocally a positive, community-spirited gesture. It's a fortnight too late to come over all George Bailey on you, but it'd be interesting to see whether some arts organisations could do something similar in the UK, not just for 'state employees', especially in places hit especially hard by lay offs. (Acknowledging that many venues work hard already on inclusion projects, of course.)

No comments: