I’m not 25, not yet anyway. I have a grand total of three years ahead of me before I can officially say I’m halfway to 50. Three years, the same amount of time I spent as an undergraduate at Sussex university. Three years that flew by as quickly as you can say student discount.
Thinking about it in these terms, then, we can pretty much say that I’m nearly 25. Those among you who are well over the halfway to fifty hill may well scoff at this. So scoff away, but at least hear me out because I do – actually – have a point hidden amongst this babble.
My point stems from a thought I had sometime last week, the thought goes like this: “what am I going to do when I’m 25?!”
This wasn’t some what-is-the-point-of-my-existence scenario, or a mere questioning of where I will be on my career path at age 25. No. This thought grew out of a word that’s constantly buzzing around my brain, one that I need like a gloriously stimulating narcotic. Theatre.
My addiction to theatre isn’t something I hide, but the extent of this addiction may not be known by all. So let me put it to you bluntly. The majority of the small amount of money I call my own is spent on theatre and, if not going directly into a box office, on various expenses all related to the theatre. Books, plays, train tickets, tube fare, magazines.
Luckily for me – and even more luckily for my bank account – I’m under 25. This means my addiction to theatre costs far less than it could do, all because under 25s get a pretty sweet deal in terms of discount.
A vast majority of theatres offer massively discounted tickets for those of us who fall into this age category – the National Theatre’s Entry Pass is just one brilliant example. Not only this but the under 25s get discounted rail travel in order to make the journey to the theatre that bit cheaper.
25 is also often the cut-off age for many competitions and schemes within the arts. So, the thought I had sometime last week can roughly translate as “I’m screwed when I’m 25”.
Because, unless I’ve won one of these competitions and gained myself a successful position working within theatre (and this position is, of course, the dream) then I’m all set to be a starving wreck unable to feed myself as I spend ALL my money on theatre.
That’s an exaggeration, I know. But the presumption that everyone over 25 is going to be earning a decent enough salary to continue regular trips to the theatre is silly. Plus what I guess must be the assumption – that everyone who wants to regularly attend the theatre after 25 will already be an arts lover probably working in the sector and benefitting from discounts – only works to aid theatre’s inaccessibility.
These issues are raised by Glen Pearce’s recent blog for Arts Professional, which – along with my thought sometime last week – turned me on to ranting about this myself.
Should theatres be doing more to target this middle generation group? Possibly, but unless there’s a special scheme for every age group the only real solution is for the cost of tickets to be less. And that’s a whole – unfortunate – economic and cultural mess that doesn’t look set to be solved in the near future.