Image by Kloe Hackett

A HARLOW theatre has gone from strength-to-strength since its ‘Pay What You Can’ scheme began attracting new audiences to The Playhouse.

The Harlow Playhouse has been offering ‘Pay What You Can’ shows for nearly two years, proving that it can definitely be successful. The theatre hopes to encourage people from all walks of life to come to see a show, who otherwise would not do so.

As any business would, the Playhouse strives for repeat custom, but its priority is to bring the community together.

The Playhouse’s Digital & Audience Development Assistant, Dan Powell said: ‘We’re looking at it from a long term perspective.

‘We essentially want to get new people into the theatre and people who think theatre might be a bit too stuffy for them, or they can’t afford it. Which is a big thing we found – a lot of shows will price people out, whereas ‘Pay What You Can’ is giving them an opportunity to come and see a show right on their doorstep and just give them something fun to do.’

Image by Kloe Hackett

Digital & Audience Development Assistant, Dan Powell

The acts chosen to participate in the scheme are mostly up and coming ones, giving them great exposure and the opportunity to get on a live stage with a real and varied audience. The Playhouse also gives most of the profits from any paying customers directly to them.

Although this scheme has been very successful with the Playhouse, it has not met with approval everywhere. Dr Ben Voyer from the ESCP Europe Business School and London School of Economics, has criticised it’s viability as a business model.

He told BBC News: “As a promotion it works really well for a company, but in the long run it is a dangerous marketing technique.”

Dr Voyer was unavailable for comment.

For more information on The Harlow Playhouse, their events and ‘Pay What You Can’ visit their website at or follow their Twitter @harlowplayhouse


Image by Harlow Playhouse

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Kloe Hackett

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