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28th November 2018 Bea Udeh

Young, dumb and broke #ADA

One strong belief holds about working in the arts and cultural sector holds, that is that one does it for love and not the recompense.  Here, English Touring Opera Fellow of the ADA 3.0 shares their plans for a more equitable ticketing scheme which could go out nationally.

It is the 16th day of the month and I am broke. To be honest I was running low on funds by the 4th of the month. Once I’ve paid the rent, bills, travel costs, food… I find that I have pennies to make it through to the next pay day. This makes it extremely difficult to buy tickets to shows or exhibitions. When I was in my early 20s I was able to utilise the 16-26 ticket schemes and was able to watch shows for a fraction of the price. However, I had a rude awakening on my 27th birthday when I instantly became ineligible for these discounted tickets. I checked my bank account and there definitely wasn’t an extra zero at the end of the balance. I don’t know why we assume that 27 is the age when people will start being able to afford full price tickets. There have been countless times, since my 27th birthday, when I have foregone a night at the theatre because I know that will be a week’s worth of food. I am by no means poor, and it would be selfish of me to claim otherwise, but I am like thousands of arts professionals living off lower incomes. I knew I wouldn’t be making six figures whilst working in the arts but I assumed I would at least be able to afford to enjoy the occasional exhibition/play/opera.

It seems silly that I work in the arts but I can’t afford to enjoy it and I know I’m not the only one in this situation. How many cleaners get to sit and enjoy a play in the auditorium they clean? How many Box Office Assistants get to watch the shows that they are selling tickets for? How many assistants book tickets for their bosses but never get to book tickets for themselves? Interns barely get paid expenses so tickets are often out of the questions.

That’s where SAS comes in. I have created the “Starving Artist Scheme” to address this issue. We all know we rarely sell out for every performance/exhibition/concert. There are always tickets left in the second or third price band and midweek shows always have empty seats. My idea is to offer anyone who works for an arts organisation affordable/free tickets (from comps up to £5) to any arts event in the country. This would mean that anyone, regardless of their income, will be able to enjoy the arts. Yes, there are tickets schemes already available but they are very exclusive, rarely include big productions/exhibitions or are never offered to the people who would really benefit from them.

My hope is that all NPO organisations will sign up to this scheme and allocate a portion of tickets to their events to people who will truly appreciate it.

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