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Free Theatre Initiative

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

Nearly 50,000 free tickets have been issued during the scheme’s first quarter, enabling thousands of young people to experience fantastic theatre who otherwise would not have done so.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his new appointment, and I look forward to working with him. The Bolton Octagon theatre hopes to give away 4,000 tickets during the lifetime of the scheme. Will he congratulate it on the fact that by the end of the summer break it will have allocated a total of 718 tickets of its 790 ticket allocation, which I think is pretty good?

I regret that I will not be working with my hon. Friend for as long as I would like, as I think that he is standing down at the next election, which is very sad. I should certainly like to join him in congratulating the Bolton Octagon. Not only has it had remarkable success with the free ticket scheme, but it has had its most successful year ever in ticket sales. Of course, Sir Ian McKellen began his acting career in Bolton. If the free ticket scheme inspires another actor of his calibre, it will have been money very well spent.