New ‘Ticket Bank’ scheme to offer free access to cultural events for those on low income

Crowd in a nightclub
© Giulia Spadafora | Soul Media

The London Ticket Bank is set to launch in January 2023.

A new cultural scheme will offer unsold tickets for music, theatre, dance and comedy events as well as art exhibitions to those who are on low income and can’t afford to pay for cultural activities. Once the project has launched next year, it will give out around 1,000 tickets per week on a free or pay-what-you-can donations basis.

The Ticket Bank is helmed by Chris Sonnex, who is the artistic director of Cardboard Citizens – an organisation that aims to create space for people in society through theatre and art, creating work with people who experience homelessness, inequity or poverty. Speaking on the Ticket Bank project, Sonnex 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,” Sonnex continued, “And the tighter things get with people’s finances, the more they will be squeezed out of art.”

So far, seven arts institutions have signed up to the scheme. This includes the Barbican, the Roundhouse and the NT plus the Almeida, Gate, Bush and Tara theatres. Seven more arts spaces will be announced in January with more set to join once the project has officially launched. The organisers hope that other UK cities will follow suit and replicate something similar to make cultural activities more accessible.

The Ticket Bank will be partnering with organisations – including food bank charity the Trussell Trust, housing organisations Centrepoint and Positive Action in Housing and the Longford Trust – who will provide people with the access codes that will enable them to book free tickets through the scheme.