Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Eddie Izzard have today backed a scheme that will see free tickets made available to young people at selected theatres in the North East region.

Julie Elliott, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Sunderland Central joined forces with Culture Secretary Andy Burnham to welcome the Empire’s commitment to offering free theatre tickets for under 26 year olds. The theatre has signed up to Labour government's scheme which will offer 618,000 free theatre tickets across England in the next two years.

This week also sees the launch of the website for the scheme at

Labour’s Julie Elliott said;

 “I’m pleased that the Sunderland Empire has taken up this scheme as it’s so important that we give as many as our young people as possible the chance to go to the theatre.”

 “The Sunderland Empire puts on many fantastic productions and it will be great to see the young people of Sunderland given a chance to experience live theatre for free. This is what Labour is all about – giving new opportunities to young people.”

Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said,

“Labour has always believed in making the best in life available to everyone. We all know how a visit to the theatre can be a life-changing experience, and it’s incredibly exciting to imagine our theatres full to bursting point with young people. This new scheme sees Labour values in action

“This scheme allows us to unlock seats that might otherwise have remained empty, giving us good value for money, as well as ensuring we open up theatre to as many people as possible. In the same way we opened up access to our great museums and galleries, we are now extending this principal through to the performing arts, and I congratulate all those theatres taking part.”

Eddie Izzard said,

"I think free theatre tickets for young people is a great idea, especially as things are getting tough financially right now. I am very pleased that the Labour Party has launched this scheme for under 26 year olds. We have a great British theatrical tradition and I hope people take advantage of this offer."

Other theatres taking part in the scheme include The Theatre Royal, Live Theatre and Northern Stage in Newcastle upon Tyne and The Customs House in South Shields.


Notes to editors:


 - For more information on the scheme please visit
 - To view clips from Eddie Izzard and Kevin Spacey talking about the new scheme visit