City seeks innovative ideas to boost young audiences

Unsold seats at theatre, dance and music performances across the city could soon be filled with school students getting their first taste of Sydney’s diverse cultural life for as little as $10 a ticket.

The City of Sydney is investigating a ‘theatre passport’ scheme, and is calling for ideas to give high-school students access to unsold seat stock at theatres and performance venues.

The City is seeking innovative proposals that draw on new or emerging technologies to bring cultural venues, ticketing agencies and young audiences together, while keeping ticket costs down.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the idea for the scheme was to boost cultural participation among young people by making a trip to the theatre more accessible and affordable.

“We’re committed to giving Sydneysiders of all ages more opportunities to get involved in our cultural life,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The idea is to open up a new way for young people from all walks of life to get involved in Sydney’s fantastic performance scene.

“We’re encouraging creative groups to submit their innovative ideas to bring this scheme to life and help create a new generation of theatre lovers.”

The City’s scheme was first proposed in its Creative City Cultural Policy, released in 2014, and is based on a similar program run by the Adelaide Festival Centre during the 1970s–1990s that gave high-school students the opportunity to purchase low-cost tickets to performing arts events with unsold seats.

Students from that era remember the program as providing ‘unforgettable exposure to the performing arts’, building their awareness and knowledge of theatre and, in many cases, ‘fostering a lifelong love of the arts’.

The City has conducted research into the potential market demand and size in Sydney and received positive feedback from high-school students and teachers alike, along with support from several cultural institutions.

Proposals must be submitted by 17 May, and will be shortlisted based on the applicant’s ability to develop and maintain the proposed technology platform, keep tickets affordable, manage relationships with cultural organisations and venues, and market effectively to young people.

Up to two applicants could be invited to develop their concepts into business plans. If found to be feasible, one applicant could then go on to receive additional one-off seed funding from the City, with the aim of launching to market in 2017.

For more information or to make a submission, visit