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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
Cheap opera tickets 'fail poor'
Royal Opera House - Covent Garden
The cheap seats will only benefit existing opera-goers, it is claimed
A plan to offer cut-price tickets to the opera will fail to attract the less affluent, according to a political think-tank.

The Royal Opera House's 10 ticket bonanza will encourage regular visitors to go more often, the Institute For Public Policy Research (IPPR) has said.

The organisation added that cost was just one of the factors involved in discouraging new audiences.

An Arts Council survey found that lack of interest often put people off.

The IPPR's associate director Ian Kearns said that a new approach was required to attract new audiences to the opera, saying "poverty of aspiration" was the main problem.

Tickets give-away

"The arts need to do far more than offer a limited number of cheap tickets on a first come, first served basis," said Mr Kearns.

"It would be far better for the Opera House to give away free tickets to community groups in deprived areas and to arrange trips for lower socio-economic groups outside of London," he added.

The IPPR also said that people living outside of London would have little chance to take advantage of the cheap seats offer.

'Anyone and everyone'

The pressure of having to return home or paying out for accommodation in the capital would be a further discouragement, it claimed.

The Royal Opera House struck a 1 million sponsorship deal with Travelex which will run for three years.

There will be a series of cut-price Mondays in the autumn and next Spring.

The venue's chief executive Tony Hall said he wanted to make it a place where "anyone and everyone can come and feel welcome and enjoy world class opera and ballet".

A Royal Opera House spokeswoman said she had no direct comment to make on the IPPR's findings.

She said: "This is a scheme we are running, along with many other arts organisations, to introduce art to as wide a variety of people as possible.

"This is just one of many schemes designed to ensure we reach as wide an audience as we can."

The BBC's David Sillito
"On this opening night much of the interest lay not in what was playing but who was watching"

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