Entertainment & Arts

Spacey criticises West End prices

Kevin Spacey, Old Vic
Image caption Spacey has accused West End theatre producers and directors of being "short-sighted"

Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey has criticised West End producers as "short-sighted" when it comes to ticket prices for young people.

The Oscar-winning actortold The Stage magazinethat London theatres were in danger of becoming an "exclusive club".

He said he was "embarrassed" that the average £50 cost of a ticket for a West End show was driving young people away.

"If we don't reach out to make theatre affordable to the young generations we will lose them all," he added.

"What happens when this generation that is currently going to the theatre passes onto the great theatre in the sky? Who is going to replace them?

"It is so short sighted not to think about your future audiences."

Ticket prices are set by producers and directors rather than theatre owners.

President of the Society of London Theatres, Mark Rubinstein insists a lot is already being done: "Kids week, which will run throughout August this year and offers free tickets to children up to the age of 16."

He added: "Theatre is expensive because it is a unique experience, it is not a cheap thing to put on."

A survey from the Society of London Theatres found that only 16% of people who attended a show in 2008 were aged 16-24.

While 52% of those surveyed said the price of tickets stopped them from attending more often.

Spacey continued: "If we don't make theatre accessible then you force producers to always have to have big names in plays and you don't give young people an opportunity to experience something that, if they get it and if they love it, they will come again."

Actor Robert Powell, who is currently touring in a theatrical version of Doctor in the House, agreed with Spacey.

"This is one of the reasons why touring has become a very successful way of taking plays out and putting them in front of an audience," he told the BBC.

"Around the country, it's half the price of London, give or take.

"Let's say a London ticket is £50 and some of them are a lot more than that, around the country, £25 would be a lot (for the top seat).

"Kevin's right. I think it is an elite group of people. And once they go, we are not bringing up an audience of youngsters who appreciate theatre."

There are pricing structures in place for under 25's at certain theatres in London, including the Old Vic which has just announced a year-long subsidised ticket scheme.

100 tickets per performance will be available for £12.

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