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Cultural Bribery: A Night Less Ordinary

2017 February 12
by admin

A Night Less Ordinary is the government’s latest attempt at cultural grooming; an Arts Council England scheme that promises to provide 618,000 free theatre tickets to anyone under 26 across more than 200 venues nationwide. For us in Manchester, that means the Royal Exchange Theatre, Library Theatre Company (you didn’t know the Central Library have their own theatre company? How uncultured are you…) and Contact have a stash of tickets to give away to us young, theatre-shy folk over a TWO-YEAR period.

The initiative has been devised to procure a new wrinkle-and-rise-free generation of theatre-goers from the apathetic, culturally inept mulch of today’s youth by making such experiences more alluring to us… i.e. free. But will the scheme really tempt us out of pubs and into plays? And from “Silver Screen” to Stage?

I can’t remember the last time I saw a show and have only truly lusted after the one (after developing my own set of tastes outside of compulsory education) – Spamalot, Eric Idle and John Du Prez’s theatrical translation of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Even now I kick myself for not witnessing firsthand what could only have been a spectacle of pure genius. Never mind.

I can’t help but feel slightly patronised by A Night Less Ordinary, which to me suggests my evenings are otherwise mundane. Average. Boring. Has it not been considered there maybe fundamental reasons why the under 26’s are not theatre fans that exceed financial factors? And whilst the subject has been breached, should we not be concerned in today’s particularly volatile climate about the cost of such schemes? It’s boasted that between 2008 and 2011 the Arts Council would have invested ‘in excess of £1.6 BILLION of public money from the government and the National Lottery’ to support the arts and increase their accessibility.

Obviously this isn’t all being channelled into nurturing theatre (one would hope) nor am I suggesting in any way that the government shouldn’t be financially supportive of the arts – I am an ex-art student after all. It’s just that money has become even more of a precious commodity and should be treated as such. If theatres are flailing because they are not attracting a specific audience, how is bribery going to help? Of course, had I been writing this from my home in London, where there are more theatres and shows than Ugg Boots and homos here in Manchester, this would have been a very different article.

Visit for more information and about how you can claim your free tickets. If you want any, that is.

Holly Dicker

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