The chief executives of three of the region's leading Theatres – the Theatre Royal, Live Theatre and Northern Stage, have confirmed that they have reached their target of supplying 4,000 free theatre tickets to under 26s in the region, under Arts Council England’s Free Ticket Initiative ‘A Night Less Ordinary’.

The news came at the closure of the A Night Less Ordinary scheme, which was launched in February 2009 and will end in April this year. Under the initiative, the three theatres were tasked with making available a specific number of free tickets to under 26 year olds and specially targeted groups, in order to reach new audiences and develop a new generation of theatregoers.

A limited number of tickets were offered for a wide variety of shows across all three theatres each week, and details were posted online on a specially dedicated website. Applicants then followed the normal booking process in order to build familiarity with it. An additional allocation of free tickets was provided to the three theatre Learning Departments to donate to specific groups who, for a variety of social and economic reasons, rarely, if ever, visit the theatre.

Chief Executive of the Theatre Royal, Philip Bernays, said: “We are very pleased that we’ve reached our target – the funny thing is that it’s actually very difficult to give tickets away as people often think there’s a catch with something that’s totally free, even when there isn’t. The marketing and communications needed to be just right. The result is that we have shown at least 4000 new people how wonderful a trip to the Theatre can be, and provided those who already know, especially the young, with the opportunity to come more often. This is key to building the audiences of the future and to widening the scope of Theatre.

“We are grateful to Arts Council England for providing us with the opportunity to participate in the scheme, and although it has now come to an end are confident that together we have built a legacy in the form of a newly developed audience within the region.”

Alison Clark-Jenkins, Director, Arts and Development, Arts Council England, North East said: “The scheme has been a big success in the north east region, as in reaching our target we can be confident that we have engaged with a significant number of young people in Newcastle and beyond to help them overcome the barriers which prevent them from visiting the theatre.“

Erica Whyman, Chief Executive of Northern Stage said: “ANLO has been a great collaborative experiment. It has enabled more young people in the region than ever before to experience a night out that's up-close and live, and that stays with them long after they leave – that’s a great legacy to have.”

Jim Beirne, Chief Executive of Live Theatre said: “This project has allowed more young people to experience the fantastic range of entertainment currently on offer at Newcastle’s three leading theatres – its been a wonderful opportunity for them and for us to build on our future audience.”