Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Regent Theatre, Hanley - Free tickets over next two years.


The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, is today celebrating the news of a £30,000 boost to get more young theatre goers through its doors.

The news comes from Arts Council England, as part of an announcement of successful applications to the Free Theatre Initiative, which will see 618,000 free theatre tickets given to under 26 year olds across England over the next two years in an attempt to increase young audiences.

The awards were made across three categories – Premium (a £50,000 grant), Standard (£30,000) and Flexible (£10,000) with The Regent Theatre receiving a standard £30,000 award.

Richard Wingate, Chief Executive, Stoke-on-Trent Theatres Ltd said: “Today’s announcement by Arts Council England is fantastic news for the young people of Stoke-on-Trent and we are delighted to have been selected for the Free Theatre Initiative. The Regent Theatre is one of the best touring venues in the UK, and we must applaud the decision to allow youngsters in Stoke-on-Trent the opportunity to experience live theatre, maybe for the very first time. Our inclusion in the initiative also supports the year round hard work of our Creative Learning team, who are already committed to involving members of the local community and beyond.”

The free theatre scheme – which will be named in the New Year – is supported by £2.5 million additional funding to the Arts Council’s core grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Since its announcement in September, Arts Council England has worked with the sector to finalise parameters for the scheme and to assess applications.

Attendance at arts events traditionally drops in the 18-26 age range and so this initiative is specifically targeted at young adults and their families. It is designed to reach new audiences and develop a new generation of arts attendees.

The scheme will run alongside the successful reduced price schemes for young people which many theatres already operate. Results of the pilot will be carefully monitored and, if successful, it is hoped that the initiative could be extended to other art forms.

The free theatre scheme will go live across the country on 16 February 2009, with a week of special activities at all participating venues. A dedicated web site will be launched in the New Year, providing further details and direct links to book free tickets.


For further information please contact David Bradbury, Regent Theatre Press Officer on 07884 067 455 or email

The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent, is operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG). Co-founded by Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire in 1992, ATG is currently the largest theatre group in the West End and separately, the second largest in the UK regions, with a total of 23 venues. ATG is also one of the country’s foremost theatre producers and has been behind some of the most successful and innovative productions in Britain and internationally.

Current and recent ATG co-productions in London and internationally include the hugely successful and critically acclaimed musical West Side Story (West End season and UK Tour); Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard; Riflemind by Andrew Upton (in association with Sydney Theatre Company); hit comedy Fat Pig by Neil LaBute; Harold Pinter’s The Lover/The Collection; Elling starring John Simm; The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess directed by Trevor Nunn and Guys and Dolls starring Ewan McGregor.

Creative Learning at Stoke-on-Trent Theatres Ltd initiates participatory arts projects involving dance, opera and drama. Over 7,000 people have taken part in events initiated by Creative Learning during 07/08 through extensive partnership work with schools, colleges, universities and community agencies, as well as other independently delivered programmes. The hugely successful Dance Artist in Residence project has introduced high quality dance to thousands of local children since 2003, and the groundbreaking work with youth opera will continue to be developed into 2009. ACE free seat initiative will be an invaluable enhancement to the department’s programmes over the next two years.

Arts Council England works to get great art to everyone by championing, developing and investing in artistic experiences that enrich people’s lives.

As the national development agency for the arts, ACE support a range of artistic activities from theatre to music, literature to dance, photography to digital art, and carnival to crafts.

Great art inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves, and the world around us. In short, it makes life better.

Between 2008 and 2011, ACE will invest £1.3 billion of public money from government and a further £0.3 billion from the National Lottery to create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

There were 99 successful applicants for the free theatre scheme, representing more than 200 venues across the England. 116 applications were received, including groups of venues acting as consortia. The applications were scored against the published criteria for the scheme and scrutinised by an overview panel to ensure a good spread of participating venues across the country.

The 99 awards were made across three categories - Premium (a £50,000 grant), Standard (£30,000) and Flexible (£10,000).


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