Councillors to vote on whether or not to end free tickets from Sunderland Empire theatre

Councillors are to vote on whether or not they should continue to accept free tickets to shows at the Sunderland Empire.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 12:41 pm
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 10:37 am
Sunderland Empire Theatre

The Empire is owned by Sunderland City Council but operated by the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG).

Under the terms of the relationship, a small number of tickets are offered to councillors for shows running more than five consecutive performances.

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Sunderland’s Lib Dem councillors, who say they refuse to accept free tickets, have now put forward a motion calling for free tickets to end over concerns it “impacts on the reputation” of elected members.

In the past, council leader Graeme Miller has stressed only a small number are provided to councillors and criticised the Liberal Democrats for “painting the council in a poor light over such a beneficial act from one of our strongest cultural partners, the Empire Theatre”.

All councillors will be asked to vote on the issue at a full meeting of Sunderland City Council on January 29.

The motion calls for councillors to ‘respectfully decline’ free tickets until the end of the current contract with ATG, and to ensure any future contract does not include free tickets for councillors.

It also notes: “The Empire Theatre is a key attraction in Sunderland holding a unique position in the North East cultural scene.

“In recent years, the Empire Theatre, under the management of ATG, has hosted some of the best stage shows usually reserved for the West End and other major venues.

“The Sunderland Empire also attracts wide praise for its engagement with the community and efforts to work with groups across Sunderland, Washington, Houghton and Hetton.”

The meeting at which the motion will be debated takes place at 4pm in the council chamber at Sunderland Civic Centre, and is open to the public.

Councillors of all sides will have the chance to speak on the motion before the vote takes place.