The MAC, Belfast, increases school visits with Passport to the MAC

The MAC, Belfast, increases school visits with Passport to the MAC

By Melissa McMinn, The MAC, Belfast


Melissa McMinn shares how the MAC developed a primary schools reward scheme to make trips to the Christmas show more accessible.

We launched Passport to the MAC in June 2013, a year after the MAC opened, to make it more affordable for primary schools to visit the venue.

The MAC is committed to providing opportunities for the next generation of artists and audiences to be inspired by the arts. Primary school visits play a key part in that so we wanted them to feel welcome at the MAC.

After various conversations with teachers, we identified that schools wanted to bring children to the MAC but finances were an issue. The cost of transporting a group to the theatre was putting teachers off.

We already offered a 20% discount off child price tickets for schools but we wanted to do more to remove the financial pressure. We took the teachers' feedback and used it to develop Passport to the MAC.

What is Passport to the MAC?

Passport to the MAC is a simple rewards scheme for primary schools. Schools are issued with an A6 passport containing three spots. Each time the school engages with the MAC, they receive a stamp in their passport. Once they have collected three stamps, they are entitled to up to £350 towards transport to the MAC for the Christmas show. The offer is subject to availability an administered on a first come first served basis.

Engagement with the MAC could include:

  • a visit to the gallery
  • a bespoke workshop at the school
  • buying performance tickets
  • taking part in the Masterpiece for the MAC competition

Some of the engagement opportunities are free and some don't require groups to leave the classroom. They are designed to give a holistic view of the MAC and all it has to offer.

The third stamp can be buying tickets for the Christmas show so schools only have to engage in two other opportunities during the year to complete their passport.

Administering the scheme

The MAC marketing and learning and participation teams work together to promote and administer the scheme. We book all of the transport and work with schools to identify local companies if they are travelling from outside Belfast.

Removing the administrative process and financial pressure for schools ensures that they can relax and enjoy their visit to the MAC.

We also meet and greet each school when they arrive and use that opportunity to continue building our relationship with them.

Download the free case study for tips and recommendations:
Passport to the MAC (PDF)

Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2017