The sole purpose of the theater is not the performances themselves, but rather to bring the entire community together to enjoy a shared experience.
Jeri Lynn Schulke, stage director of the ArtsCenter, said people who usually come see theater productions are only those who can afford it.
“If it’s only for a privileged few, you’re not allowing the experience in on the entire community,” she said. “We’re all about the community. There have been a lot of people who can afford it, but we are trying to open the doors to everyone.”
The ArtsCenter in Carrboro has been working to bring a sense of community into the town by allowing free admission for all main-stage productions during the 2014-15 season.
ArtsCenter Stage’s no cost access will start with its 13th Annual 10 By 10 in the Triangle festival running July 11 to July 27.
There will be 10 first-come, first-serve free tickets for these shows. Schulke said people can start putting their names on the list two hours before the show. Then based on the list they will hand out the tickets in order 30 minutes before the show starts.
Because the Carrboro community has a large population of young adults, Schulke hopes this new policy will bring younger people to the theater.
“Theater isn’t just for the older generation,” she said. “I understand that students have a tight budget and don’t have a lot of discretionary income. If they start going to the theater now, maybe they will develop that skill of going and eventually it will be a part of their life.”
Schulke said she has other ideas to attract people to the ArtsCenter such as student-rush tickets, which are not free, but are radically reduced tickets for students. She said the ArtsCenter is kicking around the idea of student tickets costing as low as $5 per ticket.
Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis was the inspiration behind the ArtsCenter’s free ticket policy, but free tickets were not the only thing they did for the community.
Artistic Director of the Mixed Blood Theater, Jack Reuler said they had focus groups to figure out the issues that were occurring in the theater, and besides cost, one of them had been transportation.
“Radical Hospitality is much more than free tickets,” he said. “We’ve had more issues than cost, such as language issues and transportation issues. Anybody who calls the box office and is registered with a disability can get a free taxi ride to the theater.”
Executive director of the ArtsCenter, Art Menius said the idea of free tickets removes the financial barrier so anyone can experience the arts.
“It is a good idea because it translates into providing seats for people who have not experienced theater to have natural experiences even if they do not know what it is,” he said.
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