Theatre New Brunswick, in collaboration with the Fredericton Public Library, has started giving away free passes to their shows to make professional theatre more accessible to the public.
Starting Sept 13, the local theatre company will give away passes on a “first come, first serve” basis, allowing recipients to exchange them for tickets to any one of their 2017-2018 seasonal shows. The passes will be available a month before each play’s opening night, and can be exchanged at any point for a $30 ticket.
The program was started by TNB’s director of development and communications, Matt Carter, as a way to encourage people to attend despite their financial standing.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed that the theatre audiences are usually people who are in careers or later in their years, and we’re really trying to cater to younger audiences,” said Carter.
“We want to show them that this is an opportunity to see professional actors on stage — people that you might even see in movies or television — in your own backyard doing some cool things.”
The idea first came into fruition after a disabled would-be patron missed a show due to lack of funds.
“The first year that I was here we got a phone call from an older gentleman … who explained to me that he couldn’t afford to buy a ticket because it didn’t fit in his life’s budget, but he really wanted to see this particular show,” said Carter.
The incident, according to Carter, led to the string of deals that included the half-priced McCain Student Ticket, Pay What You Wish Wednesday shows (where attendees pay by donation), and eventually, the free public passes.
The idea is not an original one according to Carter, with the library having done the same thing with attractions at King’s Landing and theatre groups in Toronto and Calgary using the same free pass tactic. However, Lisa Anne Ross, director of Solo Chicken Productions in Fredericton, said moves like this help break down the social perceptions of theatre groups.
“There’s a tendency for theatre to be seen as this event only reserved for people of a certain class or status, and this helps break down those perceptions that are deep down really classist,” said Ross.
“Any initiative to make theatre more accessible to the public is always a good idea.”
Carter agreed with this point as well.
“Everybody, regardless of their income or their life situation, should have access to the good things that are all around us.”
Although it may be too early for reactions, Carter said the library expressed hope to expand on this project. The library, however, was unable to comment.
Passes for their latest show Fortune of Wolves sold out last Friday, but might start being resold “closer to the release date [Oct 12],” according to Carter.
Passes can be picked up at the Fredericton Public Library.
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