Anyone who goes to theatre will see on their ticket “Restoration Fund Levy” of about £1.50. Just how this is accounted for, has been the subject of correspondence in The Stage of late, but to no avail. Where does this money go? Are there any accounts? Who decides as to how this money is allocated?
Someone, but who knows who, seems to be the only “body” who is not responsible to declare their administration processes but collects your money willy nilly!
Have you ever tried to ask a box office person as to what the Restoration Levy is all about? You are met with a blank look. But to even suggest you do not pay it is tantamount to heresy.
Theatre owners are rich in property values, and you rarely see a theatre go dark for any expended period of time. Yes, refurbishment is maintained but one sometimes wonders whether this is more attributable to Health & Safety strictures rather than ordinary renovations. If such a supposition gets a reaction, it means someone may care about the Restoration Levy, but let us not hold our breath waiting!
With the theatre industry permanently under siege by every government, it really cannot be seen to be less than transparent. It really does pre-empt any requests in the future for grants towards what are culture palaces and indeed in some cases, listed buildings. And on the other hand there is a certain arrogance in refusing to account for the levy’s whereabouts to the theatre going public, who pay for it.
Tickets are expensive enough now without an addition to the price. We already have the ubiquitous booking fee, agent’s commission and postal charges. What we do not want is an extra unidentified charge.
In the USA the programmes are free, whereas, unless it is a First Night, the programmes in the UK are not. A visit to the theatre to include the tickets, the additions, the programmes, the parking, the transport costs are all making, what used to be a good night out, prohibitive and only a rich person’s hobby.
7 May 2013
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