Leyla Asadi, 28 January 2013

Explanation from Leyla Asadi that currently herself and many artists around her are

not accessing enough theatre, as they can't afford the ever-rising prices. Most

mainstream venues do not offer Equity rates any more and certainly don't offer a

cheaper alternative currently for artists.

This is a concern, not because artists are generally poor and need subsidising, but

because it shows that venues don't value their local artists (when talking about ‘artists’,

this includes anyone who works in the sector; writers, directors, producers, actors etc)

as much as they should. It is vital that local makers have the option to see as much

theatre as possible in their own city or town and if this is not happening simply

because of cost then this is wrong.

Venues that offer good access to artists seeing work is crucial for a number of


1: artists are probably the strongest advocates and ‘external marketers’ for a venue in

the area and can help spread the word.

2: Artists are inspired and educated by seeing other peoples work for their own


3: Potential dialogue between local artists and visiting companies should not be

underestimated and can keep a more national conversation flowing as well as offering

potential new relationships between artists in different parts of the country.

4: Anyone who works in theatre needs to be able to intelligently talk about

contemporary work, but if they are not seeing it then this stunts both wider (national)

conversations or debates within the sector as a whole.

5: If people working in the arts aren't able to see new actors, set designers or writers

etc then it dries up the potential connections a local maker might have and narrows

their thinking on who they could potentially work with.

ARC in Stockton were used as an example of a venue who offer a great membership

scheme (ARCADE) in which people working in the local (the whole north east region)

area can see a variety of visiting companies work for free. As a member you must

attend a certain amount of shows per season and workshops that may be on offer.

This is all geared around artistic development and yes, was highly subsidised in order

to be able to offer free tickets. However it does not need to be a free ticket that a

venue offers, just a heavily discounted one, in the same way they would offer a


There are examples of venues who offer cheaper ticket deals for a wide range of their

local population but this rarely includes artists and it is understood that giving away

tickets is not a good business plan for any venue but the commitment to the local artist

needs to be heavily considered by most venues around the country.

Some places offer last minute seats for cheaper but again this isn't really committing

and prioritising the worth of local artists and the arts community, as it needs to be

something more embedded and thought through.

Northern Stage was also sited as a venue who offer a heavily discounted scheme

(multibuy) to encourage ANY customer to buy/see more however many artists feel this

is still out of their reach as it needs to be paid for upfront and most people don't have

£70+ to pay in one go. The other stumbling block with a multibuy can be that artists

don't lead 9-5 lives, many working on a project to project basis, therefore not being

able to say 3 months in advance whether they can sign up for a certain show on a

Tuesday night for instance.

Would it be possible, financially speaking for more venues to offer £5/6 ticket deals to

local artists? Could venues be more flexible in terms of who they can class as a

concession? No venue representatives were at this session so it is an open question

at this stage, although, from knowing that there are many an empty seat at venues all

over the country, particularly for work in studios (mostly new writing, emerging or small

scale companies work) it seems a shame to not be able to offer a cheaper rate for

seats as a formal part of a venues ticket offer specifically for artists.

One solution proposed was to offer a subscription scheme, like the Arts Council one

for buying pieces of art. It could work on an individual venue basis or maybe as a

consortium of local venues. Could artists sign up to a £10 or £15 a month scheme,

which was essentially credit that they could redeem? This way it would be

manageable amounts of money instead of a one off upfront large payment. It would

bring in a level of income that venues currently don't access because many artists are

increasingly seeing less and less shows.

Another idea; could there be a scheme that gives a free ticket to an artist if they buy

another full price? A buy one get one free scheme has been trialled in places before

(for general public), but it feels more like a compromise in order to still earn the

money, rather than committing and prioritising local artists to seeing new work.

Many venues might argue that a lot of their received subsidy is trying to tackle the

issue of developing new audiences by making the theatre more accessible for all and

couldn't stretch to look at a separate artists scheme, but where does this leave the


Whatever the potential answer, it would probably need trialling as it could be a

substantial risk but one which needs to be looked into.

How would it impact on the visiting companies financial deals? If they are on a box

office split, this could decrease their potential earnings, however it would be interesting

to know how many artists believe in the need for better ticket prices for themselves

and therefore would have to resign to taking a slight cut in earnings on the other side

of things. However we are talking about a very small percentage of ticket sales that

would probably not make much of a difference to overall income, so it is all to be

weighed up.

A few people in the session wanted to now talk to a few venues to start the

conversation and see what possibilities there might be.


#venues, #cheapertickets, #solutions, #development, #arcade, #dialogue, #schemes,

#multibuys, #artists, #investment, #priorities