UK Politics

Liberal Democratic Party: Free theatre tickets scheme is an absolute shambles says Foster

Press Release   •   Feb 08, 2010 11:20 GMT

Despite the Government’s pledge to give away 1 million free theatre tickets over 2 years, 10 months into the scheme just 177,000 tickets have been made available, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The latest statistics on the Free Theatre Scheme for under-26s released by Arts Council England show that:

  • 10 months into the scheme just 177,345 tickets have been made available – 17,735 a month

  • Only two thirds (121,345) of the tickets offered have been taken up

  • At this rate of take-up it would take nearly seven years to reach the Government’s original target for the scheme

  • The pledge was subsequently downgraded to 600,000 tickets – at the current rate the Government will be way off this target as well

Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster said:

“These figures are a disgrace and the Government ought to be ashamed. It is no wonder they were buried in a little visited area of the Arts Council’s website.

“The resources and forward planning needed to make a scheme like this work were never there.

“This money could have been much better used supporting youth theatre groups or providing drama in schools.

“Sadly, it seems ministers are more interested in making wildly optimistic promises to grab headlines than actually broadening access to the arts.”