A new scheme, The London Ticket Bank, will make around 1,000 tickets available each week for those that do not normally have access to cultural events and activities.
The initiative will be launched in the new year and will see unsold theatre tickets given to those struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. The London Ticket Bank will also offer tickets for music, comedy and dance shows.
Institutions including the National Theatre and the Roundhouse have already signed up and more London venues are expected to join in January. There are seven arts organisations signed up in total, and a further seven will be announced next month.
Chris Sonnex, artistic director of charity Cardboard Citizens and one of the people behind the scheme, told the Guardian: “There are brilliant people putting together food banks and heat banks, but that doesn’t give humanity its basic needs from a soul point of view. People who are suffering as a result of the cost of living also need access to community, entertainment and things that warm the soul.
“Art is a human right. And the tighter things get with people’s finances, the more they will be squeezed out of art.”
Sonnex then presented his idea to the chair of the Cultural Philanthropy Foundation, Caroline McCormick, who said that she would be offered unsold tickets as she was connected to the arts sector.
The London Ticket Bank will partner with organisations like the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks across the UK, and housing charities such as Centrepoint and Positive Action in Housing. The scheme will also partner with the Longford Trust, which supports young ex-prisoners.
The partners will then provide people with access codes so that they can book tickets under the scheme. Tickets will be available for free or for a pay-what-you-can donation.
Sonnex added: “My hope is that other parts of the UK will take on the idea and replicate it in their areas.
“If you reach out to people who have never gone to the theatre, and can’t afford it, then in years to come you might find they come back and say I really liked that and now I’ve got some money so I’m going to spend it [on tickets]. It’s future-proofing in a world where audiences are dwindling and getting older.”
The London Ticket Bank is a separate entity to The Ticket Bank from Tickets For Good, which won the Impact Prize at the 2022 TheTicketingBusiness Awards.