The City has provided $85,000 seed funding for Playwave – a website offering young people aged 15 – 19 years, discounted tickets to performances at some of Sydney’s leading cultural institutions, including Sydney Theatre Company, Bangarra Dance Theatre and Carriageworks.
Playwave helps young people overcome the barriers that can stop them getting involved in live performances by bringing down the cost of tickets, making it easier to buy tickets online, and creating a digital space where young audiences can engage with artists and other arts lovers.
Playwave has launched with more than 1,000 tickets on offer to performances from Sydney Festival’s 2018 program. It has already signed up more than 20 cultural organisations across the city as partners.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said Playwave was designed to involve young audiences more closely in Sydney’s diverse cultural life. “This is about building the cultural audiences of the future, by making it easier for young people to get to shows now,” said the Lord Mayor.
“We know young people in Sydney want to go to shows and see live performances, but the cost of tickets, the timing of performances and other barriers often mean they don’t get the same opportunity as older audiences. This is exciting because it will boost the number of young people going to cultural events by making a trip to the theatre easier, more affordable and accessible.”
Playwave has been created by Shopfront Arts Co-Op, a not-for-profit arts organisation with a 40-year history in the youth arts sector. “There’s a major gap in the market for a program that connects young people to cultural experiences,” said Shopfront Arts Co-Op CEO, Daniel Potter.
“Arts institutions need to evolve in order to compete with digital entertainment and grow their audiences of the future. Playwave will connect young people to the artistic and cultural experiences of our city in a way that’s not just meaningful, but inspired.”
Shopfront’s launch follows months of user testing with both young people and parents, who have helped them develop their ticketing system, determine pricing structures and address other challenges preventing young people from getting involved in the arts.
As a result, tickets will be priced from about $5 – 25, depending on the performance. Young people and their parents will be able to choose from payment options including preloading credit to an account, setting up a monthly membership and purchasing gift cards.
On top of selling tickets to performances, Playwave will offer exclusive cultural experiences designed specifically for young people, such as live chats with artists, secret shows and backstage access. Members will also be encouraged to create their own content around performances they attend, including developing multimedia reviews of shows and reporting live from venues.
The idea behind Playwave was first proposed in the City’s Creative City cultural policy. It is based on a similar program run by the Adelaide Festival Centre that gave high school students the opportunity to purchase low cost tickets to performing arts events with unsold seats.
The City conducted research into the potential market demand and size in Sydney and received positive feedback from high school students and teachers alike, as well as support from several cultural institutions.
Shopfront was selected to operate the scheme following a national callout to find an organisation that could manage relationships with cultural organisations, market effectively to young people and keep ticket prices down.
Image: Playwave members Zack Lewin and Nicole Pingon interact with Sydney Festival performers Mitch Jones and Lachlan Sukroo from Circus Oz – courtesy of City of Sydney