A theatre in Catalonia has started selling carrots in lieu of tickets in protest against a 13 per cent rise in VAT on cultural activities in Spain.
As a staple food product, carrots still have a four per cent VAT charge, rather than the 21 per cent applied to the arts since September, when the tax went up from 8 per cent.
So for one night only on Saturday, spectators at the municipal theatre in Bescanó in north-east Catalonia each received a carrot, complete with a green top, rather than a ticket for a black comedy called Suicides. "I thought about lettuces, but it wasn't practical to have everybody lugging something that big around from seat to seat," Quim Marcé, the theatre director, said. "And as for tomatoes, what if people started throwing them at the actors during the performance?"
The packed-out stalls of spectators, munching on their carrots rather than the usual popcorn, gave Mr Marcé and the two actresses thunderous applause when they spoke about the damage caused by the VAT rise.
Spectator numbers are already shrinking dramatically because of the recession. Theatre takings are down in Barcelona by 30 per cent since the VAT increase, while in the Spanish cinema, 20 per cent of screens are predicted to close by next summer.