Council changes its tune with orchestra over ticketing plan

Council changes its tune with orchestra over ticketing plan
Giles Clarke, Chairman of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra (RTWSO)

Giles Clarke, Chairman of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra (RTWSO), says a large number of its regular audience would not have been able to book tickets for shows at the theatre, if plans went ahead to make the booking system online only.

The theatre is the latest in a number of organisations that is planning to move its booking system to the web only, as the UK heads towards becoming a cashless society.

But Mr Clarke, said in a survey of its audience, around a quarter would either not feel comfortable booking online or would be unable to.

“Many of our audience members are of the older demographic, and either don’t operate computer systems or even resent having to use it to book online,” he said.

Up to now, he says, many members of the orchestra’s audience buy tickets by post and cheque, which won’t be possible when the system goes fully online.

“People were extremely worried they would not be able to get tickets any more. This move would disenfranchise a large number of our audience members,” added Mr Clarke.

He continued that in a meeting of 618 people last week, a snapshot survey conducted by the RTWSO found that 27 per cent said they would be unable to use the online system.

But he said a compromise was possibly on the horizon.

“We have now had a very constructive meeting with the Assembly Hall to work out how their online booking system could cope with our ticketing requirements,” he continued.

He said for those people who can’t book online, the orchestra will now provide a ‘gateway’ arrangement whereby they will administer the online booking for its audience.

He added: “I think it is a great compromise, but we are just waiting for JJ Almond [Assembly Hall Theatre Director] at the Hall to endorse the agreement.”

Mr Almond told the Times that the theatre has supported the RTWSO for more than 70 years and will continue to do so.

He added: “A number of years ago discussions took place between community groups and the theatre management, with the aim of moving the community groups on to our ticketing system.

“We use a market leading system, and orchestras across the world have used this type of online ticketing and subscription service for many years.

“It is now time to move the orchestra’s subscription membership on to our system. We will of course continue to provide support to those members that find the transition difficult, as we do on a daily basis
for the 20 per cent of our audience that do not currently book online.”


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