London’s new Ticket Bank will give away 1,000 free theatre tickets a week

We all know what food banks are, and are acquainted with their proliferation over the last decade; many of us have now sadly heard of the new idea of ‘warm banks’. Now London is set to play host to its own Ticket Bank, in an initiative to offer free and pay-what-you-can tickets to Londoners who could never normally afford them. 

The scheme is spearheaded by the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation and theatre company Cardboard Citizens (which works with people who’ve experienced homelessness). The idea is that each participating theatre will offer the Ticket Bank an allocation of its unsold tickets every week throughout 2023, coming to about 1,000 tickets a week, which will be sold at a pay-what-you-can rate (down to nothing), via a series of charity partners including Centrepoint, the Longford Trust and various London food banks – the idea being that they can access Londoners who feel excluded from cultural events entirely.

Clearly many of us feel theatre is on the pricy side anyway, but for some even the cheapest seat is unaffordable, while inevitably little marketing is targeted at communities that can’t afford to go to the theatre. But this should hopefully make a major difference, while essentially filling up seats that would have otherwise been empty. 

Chris Sonnex, artistic director of Cardboard Citizens, explains: ‘Access to art and culture [is] essential to the human condition, a human right. If people can’t afford these riches, society is poorer. I’m incredibly proud of the London arts and culture community coming together to offer tickets city-wide to people who, through no fault of their own, are on or under [the] poverty line. It is a real act of change, and it will give many people, who couldn’t otherwise, the opportunity to be entertained, to see other worlds, to escape and most importantly to dream.’

The initial partners for the scheme are the National Theatre, the Almeida, the Barbican, the Bush Theatre, the Gate Theatre, the Roundhouse and Tara Theatre. Unless you have contact with the charity partners, you won’t be able to access the Ticket Bank yourself. But you can make a cash donation to it: each ticket costs approximately 78p to administer, and while pay-what-you-can will cover some of it, that is approximately £780 a week in costs.  So if you’re in favour of this brilliant scheme, a donation of a few quid could really help it out.

To read more about the London Ticket Bank, its partners and how you can donate or access the tickets, go here.

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