Sunderland’s council members have voted to scrap their free theatre ticket arrangement with Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) following a row about the “reputation of elected members.”

The current deal offers councillors a number of tickets for shows at the 2,000-capacity Empire Theatre, which is under the management of ATG, that are running more than five consecutive performances.

The councillors have reportedly been turning down the tickets since June 2019, and at a council meeting on Wednesday they agreed to continue declining them until the end of the ATG contract. The councillors also agreed to remove complimentary tickets from any future deals.

According to the council, residents across the city have expressed dismay of the practice of complimentary Empire Theatre tickets and councillors have accepted that complimentary tickets impact upon the reputation of elected representatives amongst the residents of the city.

Cllr Miller said, according to the Sunderland Echo, that Councillor Paula Hunt received tickets as part of her “due diligence duties” as a member of the Empire Theatre Trust. However, she donated £300 to charity in lieu because she felt “so uncomfortable” about taking the tickets.

The Empire Theatre is a key council owned attraction in Sunderland and has hosted stage shows usually reserved for the West End and other major venues.

Image: ATG Tickets