And how they are addressing the lack of diversity and inclusion on and off stage….
This post follows up from my last tip-based post on affordable theatre (read it here) – as we were inundated with messages from readers and theatres about schemes, ways to get the most affordable tickets and proactive ways they are addressing diversity and inclusivity within the theatre industry – both on and off stage. We had to break down the post into separate articles as frankly, there was just too much info to take in.
We mentioned fringe theatre and off WestEnd shows in our last post, so this article is mainly focusing on larger theatres in big cities, and attempting to spread our knowledge wider than London, as we are aware a lot of the discussion is based around the capital, which isn’t possible for most people (travel, as well as cost!).
The Lowry’s Lyric & Quays Theatres & The Aldridge Studio in Salford, Greater Manchester
The Lowry is a registered charity, their Lyric theatre has the UK’s largest stage outside of London, consisting of 3 theatre spaces. They offer a few different schemes to help drive inclusivity such as tickets at £5 or £10 for residents of Salford by signing up to this mailing list, free tickets are also made available to Salford families who’ve never been before (click here for more info).
Their under 26 Scheme offers anyone under the age of 26 tickets for £5 or £10 to most shows by signing up to the scheme here.
They also have a general membership scheme whereby £30 gets you 2 for 1 tickets all year round, plus discounted tickets are available for people in full time education, under 16s, disabled people, retired people and job seekers.
Tickets for the Aldridge Studio space start at £12, which is a great way to see smaller-scale productions.
The Old Vic, London
A registered charity (in fact, the Old Vic was opened by Emma Cons in 1880, who campaigned for educational opportunities for the working classes), did you know that they release at least half the seats for the first five performances of their shows for £10? Sign up to their PWC Preview mailing list to be sent the exact date & time that they’ll be released (limited to 2 per customer & subject to availability, of course, and available for all main stage productions except when otherwise stated).
Here are some tips for getting PwC tickets:
- When you sign up to the mailing list, you’ll receive an email a week before the £10 tickets go on sale telling you the date, time and how to get tickets.
- Once you know the date, set your alarm – tickets always go on sale at 12 noon on a Monday. You’ll be put in a virtual queue on the website and assigned a number. This number won’t change but the pink bar will keep moving as you get closer.
- Be quick, and once you’ve got your seats in the basket, go straight to pay – don’t go anywhere else on the website or you might lose your tickets!
The Young Vic, London
A registered charity, The Young Vic is great at showcasing up and coming talent and they offer ‘Lucky Dip’ tickets – you pay £10 for a guaranteed standing ticket, but are on standby and may be upgraded to a seat if there is one available on the day. They also offer a number of £10 tickets for every production for full time students and people aged 25 and under.
Large theatre complex consisting of The Crucible, The Lyceum & The Studio (charity status).
£5 tickets are available for 16-26 year olds (called ‘Live for 5’) across the majority of shows. They go on sale on the first Friday of the month at 5pm for the following month’s shows. A minimum of 40 tickets will be available per production unless it is otherwise stated.
They’re involved in the IGNITE scheme which is in place across South Yorkshire and offers one free ticket and a second at £5 for students studying Performing Arts and English at GCSE or above.
The Royal Opera House, London
A registered charity, ticket prices start at £8 for The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Friday Rush also is a great way to get last-minute tickets even for sold-out shows. At 1pm every Friday, 49 tickets for almost all main stage shows performed in the following week are available to purchase online.
York Theatre Royal
A charity, York Theatre Royal has a ‘Pay It Forward’ scheme this year where you can buy families in need tickets for this year’s panto. The ’35live’ programme is free to join and offers those aged 18-35 the chance to purchase tickets at a discounted rate of £15.
Royal Shakespeare Company, London & Stratford-upon-Avon
Friday Rush tickets: every Friday at mid-day a number of tickets from £10 are released on the website for performances in Stratford-upon-Avon the following week.
First Time Fridays: £10 tickets to any Friday performance in Stratford-upon-Avon for those who have never seen a Royal Shakespeare Company show before .
RSC Key Scheme: for 16-25 year olds to gain access to £5 tickets to see any of the London or Stratford shows.
The Ambassador Theatre Group regional theatres
At all The Ambassador Theatre groups regional theatres they offer £13 Price Promise tickets on the majority of their shows. These are limited & sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. They have theatres across the UK including The Empire Liverpool, The Alexandra Birmingham, Bristol Hippodrome, Kings Theatre Glasgow and Playhouse Edinburgh (find a list of theatres here).
A registered not for profit charity, they offer a ‘Pay What You Can’ scheme, tickets can only be bought for that day’s performances and it’s exactly what it says – pay what you can! You can also call the box office on the day, too. They also have a 50:50 appeal where people can donate from £10 to fund a ticket for someone without the means to afford to go to the theatre, since starting they have managed to give tickets to 4000 people (you can donate here).
Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
A registered charity, the theatre runs an engagement and outreach programme, collaborating with schools, young people & adults in the wider community. From running free schools programmes, to working with community groups and offering Lyceum Youth Theatre bursary places to disadvantaged young people. They are currently fundraising via their Big Ticket campaign (you can donate here), which helps run workshops as well as Touch Tours for the visually impaired and relaxed performances for those with additional support needs.
‘Shhhh Secret Seats’ offers a deal for £10 tickets, book an unreserved seat and, if there is availability you’ll be seated in either the stalls or the Upper Circle. Tickets go on sale one month prior to opening night so sign up to the shhh secret seats mailing list.
Shakespeare’s Globe, London
A registered charity, I am happy to say that the summer yard £5 tickets are still around and haven’t gone up in price since I worked there in 2004! Over the summer season (April to October) they release 700 yard tickets per show for £5 each (half the theatre’s capacity). They are standing tickets but it means you are closest to the stage & right in the middle of the action.
They also have an access scheme which exists for deaf, disabled and neurodiverse people. They will assist with finding them suitable seating and ensuring that the ticket prices are adjusted to reflect their requirements.
Opera North, Leeds
A registered charity, Opera North is the first opera company to be awarded ‘Theatre of Sanctuary’ status for their work with refugees and asylum seekers and the company recently staged its first dementia friendly performance of ‘La Bohème’.
Their Under 30s scheme is free and open to anyone aged 16-29 and full-time students. It offers 50 tickets allocated for every performance for £10, free events for members with the chance to meet members of the cast or creative team with a free drink. The scheme has now extended to the company’s northern tour venues, so that young people and full-time students in Newcastle, Nottingham and Manchester can also now access these tickets.
They have also been taking mini operas to bars and breweries in Leeds to attract a younger audience who traditionally do not attend the theatre (most people attending have never seen opera before), perfomrances have been at Manahatta with burger and Prosecco and Belgrave Music Hall with a slice of pizza and real ale. Just brilliant.
‘Try It On’ is a new initiative where twenty stalls tickets will be available for £20 for every performance in Leeds, Salford and Nottingham, bookable by anyone who is new to Opera North’s main stage work.
English National Opera (London Coliseum)
Another registered charity, tickets for the opera at this theatre start at £12. But they also have some wonderful schemes in place: ‘Opera Undressed’ allows customers to experience their first opera with them for £20 – sign up to the scheme here. They also have a ‘secret seat’ scheme whereby you buy an unallocated seat in advance but then be guaranteed a seat worth £50 or more on the night, they have more information and tips here.
The ‘Access All Arias’ scheme is for those in full time education or aged 16-29, where you get access to significantly reduced tickets, from £10 in the upper circle. Under 18s also have the opportunity to get free tickets every Friday, Saturday & opening night in the 18/19 opera season (find out more here).
Southbank Centre, London
A registered charity, they have recently launched ‘Encounters’, a new scheme offering a free classical night out in the company of a leading musician to audiences who have never previously heard a live classical concert. Priority is given to those for whom opportunities are especially hard to come by including ex-offenders, young people who are not in education, employment or training, people who have experienced homelessness, isolated older people and community groups, as well as those who may work on or near the South Bank but have yet to experience live classical music.
They have a great Under 30s ticket scheme, too – sign up here and they will send an email every two weeks with a discount code and the first code will offer a free ticket (and a code will be sent until a ticket has been booked). Thereafter, they will send a £10 ticket offer every two weeks. There are, however, a limited number of tickets available for each performance.
A limited allocation of tickets with a 25% discount is available for recipients of Universal or Pension Credit, full-time students and those under the age of 16.
On the Stage & in their Galleries they try to be as diverse as possible, Africa Utopia festival was part of a London-wide celebration of African culture and creativity, the Hayward Gallery exhibition Kiss My Genders celebrated gender diversity and fluidity this summer, they are home to Chineke!, Europe’s first BME-led orchestra and have worked with the British Paraorchestra.
Jerwood Theatre at Royal Court, London
We just saw Sabrina Mahfouz’s show here last week (in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs £14) and it’s an excellent space. They offer £12 Mondays – a long standing tradition to offer cheaper tickets on Mondays. Tickets are available to anyone & everyone in both the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs and the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. These tickets are released at 9am on their website for that evening’s show (tip: make sure you already have an account so it’s quicker to login).
A limited number of standing places go on sale one hour before each Jerwood Theatre Downstairs performance for 10p each! They may not always be available so please check in advance. The standing places have a severely restricted view.
Young Court Friends Tickets offers a limited number of £15 tickets for all performances to Young Court friends, a free membership scheme for those under 26.
The Riverfront, Wales
The Riverfront, in Newport has loads of initiatives for those on more of a budget, such as £5 tickets for 15 – 25 year olds to see theatre including National Theatre Wales, Theatr Clwyd. They have a Community Critics scheme (you can apply here) where you get a free ticket in return for writing a review of your experience, plus cinema tickets for £3 for kids films during the holidays (which are also 2 for 1 for Newport Live members). They also have Christmas panto ‘Christmas cracker’ tickets available from £8.
The National Theatre, London
A registered charity, they have Friday Rush tickets every Friday at 1pm – a selection of £20 tickets are released on the website for productions on all three of their stages.
The ‘Entry Pass’ scheme allows 16-25 year olds to sign up & get access to £7.50 tickets.
Leeds Playhouse has charity status and is proud to be part of Ramps on The Moon (an initiative mentioned in my last post here on more representation of deaf and disabled people both on and off the stage). They also have relaxed and demntia friendly performances, as well as captioned and BSL (British Sign Language) performances.
Discounts apply to students and children under 18 in full time education, Leeds Card Holders and anyone receiving disability or unemployment benefits. Discounts for group bookings & one free ticket for 10 booked (find more information here).
They have an artistic development programmed called ‘Furnace’ where they work to develop artistic voices from across the region and support them to develop projects. This culminates at ‘Furnace Festival’ – all events at Furnace Festival are either free or Pay what you can).
Royal & Derngate, Northampton
A theatre with charity status, changes have been made to make the theatre more wheelchair accessible, and along other initiatives, they have worked with United African Association to curate their Fun Palaces festival and worked with local people, including refugees, recently arriving in Northampton, inviting them to take part in their production of Katori Hall’s ‘Our Lady of Kibeho’.
Donmar Warehouse, London
Donmar Warehouse is a registered charity and has the ‘Young & Free’ Scheme for those under 26. This scheme is funded through the generosity of audiences via the Donmar’s Pay It Forward scheme (people donating towards tickets for young people – you can donate here by clicking the ‘support Donmar’ tab). Tickets are released on the final Friday of every month via a ballot system. So far these donations have allowed the Donmar to allocate more than 16,000 free tickets to those under 26.
A registered charity, they have a Standby Rate whereby, for certain shows, tickets are available up to 24 hours prior to a performance priced at £10 per person for the Patrick Studio productions & best available seats at the lowest price available for the Main House productions. These are exclusively for full time students, Birmingham residents who hold a Passport to Leisure card or local residents with certain postcodes (picked due to the lowest theatre attendance rates in Birmingham). You can find out more here. They also have a First Night Scheme for those aged between 16-24, where they can pay from just £5 for tickets.
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
A charity that works with a range of artists and theatre companies to build an inclusive creative community rooted in South Bristol. Their ‘Get Involved’ department works with communities to bring under-represented groups into the theatre and engage them in theatre generally through workshops, discussions, acting classes, courses and events for all ages to get involved.
The lowest price for every show is £12, and early bookers will always have access to the greatest savings. They offer £10 tickets for those aged 16-26 and have a community engagement ticket scheme where tickets are offered to people in Bristol who cannot afford theatre.
Vaudeville Theatre, London
In terms of inclusion, Vaudeville Theatre was the first theatre to offer a baby friendly performance in the West End! A one off matinee of the show ‘Emilia’ (with an all-female cast) took place earlier this year for parents & carers of babies under the age of 1. I think that’s rather wonderful.