London’s Donmar Warehouse is launching a subsidised ticket scheme offering more than 40 of its best seats for every performance at only £10.
The scheme is called Barclays Front Row and will be supported by the bank as part of its ongoing sponsorship of the Donmar. Under the initiative, two thirds of front row seats across both the stalls and circle will be held back for all shows, then put on sale every Monday for the week of performances two weeks later.
A criticism sometimes levelled at the Donmar has been that it is inaccessible to new audiences. The venue only seats 250 people and its productions regularly sell out, with many of the tickets booked in advance by Donmar members.
The Donmar’s new leadership – artistic director Josie Rourke and executive producer Kate Pakenham – said they hope the Barclays Front Row scheme will help address this problem.
Pakenham told The Stage: “We felt that if we wanted to encourage new audiences into the Donmar – which we do – then we had to come up with something that was for this moment. The perception that you can’t get into the Donmar isn’t necessarily a healthy one and we wanted to break that down.
“It’s nearly one-fifth of our capacity. It’s always been about finding the right balance – we have a great membership, a loyal audience who are very valuable to us and book far out. We wanted to then be able to offer something to a new audience, who have different booking habits. It’s trying with a small capacity to speak to different audiences. It’s a balancing act and we hope we’ve struck a good one.”
The scheme will launch with the Donmar’s all-female production of Julius Caesar in November, which will offer more than 7,000 £10 tickets across the run. The £10 tickets will be available over the phone, online and in person and will be sold with no booking fee. The change will mean that day seats will no longer be available, however 20 standing places will continue to be sold from the box office on the day of the performance.
Rourke added: “The Donmar has always been a relatively well-priced house, but we wanted to do something that felt like a really strong offer on all of our shows. Price is a barrier to access, there’s no getting round that. For me and for Kate, it’s very important to us to [give a] clear offer that says to people that you can get into this theatre, you can get in for a reasonable amount of money and you can get a decent view.”