A new play is taking a unique approach to its ticketing prices, offering discounted rates to people of color in an effort to attract a more diverse audience.
Jack, a theatre in Bedford-Stuyvesant is rolling out the two-tiered ticket price for the run of “TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever,” a play that deals with the historic association between Thomas Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemmings, set in a modern-day university.
“This is a play that focuses on black voices and it’s our goal to have as diverse an audience as possible,” said director Jordana De La Cruz.
The theater is asking the standard price of $22 a ticket for theatergoers who identify as white, and the discounted rate of $15 for those who identify as a person of color.
The discount is purely voluntary, and will be offered to anyone who voluntarily identifies as a person of color online or at the box office — even if their race is not immediately obvious, according to De La Cruz.
In fact, the director said that if a white person chose to identify as a different ethnicity, they would be offered the discount as well.
The theater also offers discounted tickets to local youth groups and senior centers.
The theater hopes that the voluntary nature of the discount will prevent any unwanted attention from the city for offering a differing price tiers based on race — a protected class that could potentially fall on the wrong side of the New York City Human Rights Law.
The law prohibits “discrimination in public accommodations” which includes any facility that is open to the public, including theaters. According to anti-discrimination attorney Edgar Rivera, asking a different price of different races is a violation of the human rights law.
“I absolutely think it’s illegal,” said Rivera, a partner at The Harman Firm. “Any kind of adverse decision made because of someone’s race is discrimination.”
But De La Cruz asserts that the fact that the discount is purely voluntary and can be issued to anyone who identifies as a person of color, even if they look visibly look a white person.
“There’s nothing illegal going on here,” she said.