Spanish theatre selling carrots instead of tickets in ticketing tax protest

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. 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.

Spanish media have dubbed this the "Carrot Rebellion," and the theatre has won kudos from arts advocates nationwide. But the theatre must also follow the law, says Fernando Fernandez, an economist at Madrid's IE Business School. "This is called tax evasion," he says. "I mean, we may like it because it has to do with culture, and we like people going to the theater. But this is called tax evasion. So we have to denounce this just as much as we denounce the filthy rich who don't want to pay taxes. We should do the same."