We’re selling tickets for every show in our Spring season for just a quid. On a market stall.
Have you ever been to the Albany on a Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday morning?
If you have, you will have made your way through what, in my opinion, must be one of the finest local markets in London: greengrocers rub shoulders with hat shops and florists, Jamaican bakeries with Vietnamese cafes, and there are house clearance stalls selling a random array of broken furniture, second hand toys – and once even a model solar system that was evidently someone’s school science homework.
There are not many arts venues in the country that have a (proper, old school style) market literally on their doorstep. It’s really part of the lifeblood of our venue, with our café full on market days of punters showing off their latest purchases over a coffee, and our friendly local stall holders popping in to borrow our toilets. It’s also a wonderful source of everyday poetry: one of my favourite sound bites from one of the traders was “shoes, three pounds each or two for a fiver”. Eat your heart out, Hemingway.
This Autumn, we decided to take this relationship a step further, by setting up our own market stall. I joined the Albany team in September, and within my first week I was out on the stall, bright and early (in the pouring rain and inappropriate footwear), chatting to local people about what we do and what makes them tick.
It was a remarkable experience. Having come from the world of big brands, where the customers you are talking about are so often slightly nebulous entities called things like “terraced melting pot”, it was thrilling to engage with individuals on a one-on-one basis, having proper conversations about what motivates them.
One discussion in particular stayed with me. I got chatting to a lady with a young daughter who knew all about the Albany but had never visited. She felt that she couldn’t take the risk of spending money on a ticket when she didn’t know what to expect (worth pointing out that our average ticket price is just £6** – but we do recognise this represents a big investment for many people).
Happily, that Sunday we had a free family event (the launch of our Yam Yam Festival of arts and food), which I duly employed all my persuasive powers to encourage her to come along to. And she did. And she brought her whole extended family. And she stayed. And she’s planning to come back.
Our £1 Ticket Scheme is a direct result of that conversation. Through the scheme, we’re selling an allocation of tickets for £1 each, for every show* in our Spring season.
We want to empower our audiences to take a risk on something they wouldn’t normally see, and by offering them tickets for £1 – less than the price of a cup of coffee, or half a pint, or one and a half Kit Kat Chunkys – we hope that many of them will be able to take that risk for the first time.
The tickets are being sold on a first-come-first-served basis through our market stall from 9am on Friday, before any remaining tickets are released through our website at 2pm, because we want to ensure they reach (in a very literal way) the people of Deptford High Street first.
This makes great business sense, of course. The people who have the tickets will bring their friends and family, they’ll share their experiences on social media and, hopefully, they’ll come back. But the most important thing for me is the fact this is a symbol of what I believe the Albany does best: truly engaging with its local community, on its own terms, in a fashion that is fun, creative and meaningful.
So come Friday at 9am, the Albany team will be out on the market on our (bright Albany pink) stall, selling tickets for next season at a pound a pop. Do come down and see us. I’ll try and wear sensible shoes this time.
Amber Massie-Blomfield is Head of Communications at The Albany.
Photo of I Wish I Was Lonely, part of the Albany’s next season. Photo (c) Martin Figura.
*£1 Tickets are subject to availability
**£6 average ticket price based on all 2013 sales to date
We’ll be putting ten £1 tickets for every show* in our Spring Season. They will be released to the public at Deptford Market from 9am on Fri 6 Dec – look out for our bright pink market stall! We’ll then be releasing any remaining tickets through our website from 2pm.
Tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis. Ticket buyers will be able to buy two tickets per performance for up to three shows in the season.
Allocations of £1 tickets will also be made available for shows going on sale after Friday 6 December. Subscribe to the Albany mailing list as well as Albany Facebook and Twitter profiles to be kept up to date with the latest releases of tickets.