Anyone who follows this blog – or sits down next to me for more than 5 minutes – will know I am passionate about the arts, about theatre, and about accessibility. Since moving back to Newcastle I have fallen more than a little in love with many institutions that seem to me to hold the same values: that care not just about putting on a good show or showing a good film, but about serving and engaging with the community they are based in.
I really believe that venues like Alphabetti, Northern Stage, Live Theatre and the Tyneside Cinema are more than just places to see a play or a movie: they add to the cultural tapestry of the city in truly valuable ways. I’ve been a member of the Tyneside since I moved back, but am slightly embarrassed to admit it’s taken me this long to investigate similar schemes at two of the theatres I so regularly attend.
It may seem crazy for a theatre critic – who, after all, gets to see most shows for free – to pay to join a theatre membership scheme, but it’s not just about the benefits (though I do actually regularly buy tickets to shows as well, and, let’s face it, as both Live and Northern Stage offer a discount on drinks at the bar, I’ll have made my money back in a year…). It’s about doing my bit to ensure that these venues thrive. Part of what has made coming back to Newcastle such a glorious experience is its rich arts scene: coughing up a few quid to support it seems like smart self-interest to me.
Membership of Northern Stage starts at just £30 for a year (20 if you pay by direct debit, which feels like a steal to me) – you can get details here.
Becoming a Friend of Live Theatre starts at £5 a month (or £60 a year) though there are levels above that if you are feeling particularly flush. You can find details here.
You can become a Friend of The Tyneside Cinema here for around £35 (£30 with direct debit).