Calgary mom says Jubilee Auditorium should scrap 'silly' ticket for babies

A mother in Calgary is arguing an auditorium should change its rules that charge infants held in a parent's arms.

Theatre requires everyone have a ticket to see a show — even infants in arms

Dominique Yankilevich wanted to see a show at the Jubilee Auditorium but she was told she'd be charged for bringing her baby. (CBC)

A Calgary mother says she is frustrated the Jubilee Auditorium's ticket policy requires her to buy an extra ticket to bring her three-month old son to a show, even though he won't be taking up a seat.

Dominique Yankilevich​ and her extended family purchased 10 tickets to see a touring Broadway magic show called The Illusionists.

Afterwards, Yankilevich​ decided to make sure the show was kid-friendly and that she'd be allowed to bring her infant son, Dawson, along because he was still breastfeeding. He also won't take a bottle yet so she can't pump and leave him with a babysitter.

But when she read the ticket policy for the Jube, as it's colloquially known, she found everyone must have a ticket to attend its shows, regardless of age. She then reached out to the venue directly to clarify.

"I just emailed them [saying], 'I think I'm misunderstanding this. It says my three-month-old would be required to have a ticket if I come. Is it gonna be a problem if I bring him?" she said, offering to step out of the theatre if the baby causes a fuss.

"And they just replied saying, 'Yeah, due to safety regulations, regardless of age or anything, everyone's required to have a ticket.'"

Dominique Yankilevich was hoping for a nice night out with her family but instead was left scrambling to pay even more money for tickets. (CBC)

Yankilevich​ said she was told the policy was to ensure that, in case of an emergency, everyone could be accounted for, and because of that, everyone, even babes-in-arms, require a ticket.

The venue staffer went on to say that it understands Yankilevich​'s frustrations but it's only following the city's fire regulations.

So the staffer recommended Yankilevich​ purchase the cheapest ticket she could find for the show, regardless of location, and then both tickets could be scanned together when they enter the theatre.

Ticket for baby would have cost more than her own

Yankilevich​ says at that point her family looked for a cheap ticket, but the only ones left for sale at that point cost far more than her ticket, which totalled $45.35. 

"My reaction was just exhaustion. Is this really something we have to deal with right now? I feel like we are beyond having silly policies like this," she said.

She didn't buy her son a ticket and isn't sure whether she'll go herself.

CBC reached out to the Jubilee to ask about its policy.

"For public safety, all patrons of the Alberta Jubilee Auditoria (Edmonton and Calgary) need a ticket to attend performances to ensure that the theatres are not over capacity and helps account for all patrons in the event of an emergency," Jubilee Auditoria of Alberta operations manager Scott McTavish replied in an email statement.

"The Jubilee does not set ticket prices. Ticket prices are set by show promoters. Many other performance venues have similar practices."

Not city's fault, fire says

But according to the Calgary Fire Department, it's not the city's fire regulations that venues must adhere to but the provincial fire code.

Alberta's fire code determines a venue's maximum occupancy load based on the size of the space, and number and location of fire exits.

Department spokesperson Carol Henke says how venues ensure they don't exceed a maximum load is up to each venue.

"How they measure that, how they allow people in, how they charge people, if they decide to charge people, that is up to their discretion," said Henke.

First time issue, mom says

Yankilevich​ said this is the first time she's had to buy a ticket to bring a child to an event who was under age two or three.

She said other venues she's attended such as movie theatres allow children without charge because they sit on a lap and get little out of the whole show.

"I've encountered places that don't allow kids, which is fine, but no one has ever charged my infant to come anywhere," she said.

She would like the Jube to change its policy and find another way to keep track of everyone inside, as she says other venues do.

CBC searched a few different examples including Landmark Cinemas in Calgary, which doesn't charge for kids under three, and Arts Commons, which doesn't charge for "babes in arms," defined as anyone under two.

About the Author

Colleen Underwood has been a reporter/editor with CBC news for more than 10 years filing stories from across southern Alberta for radio, television and online. Follow her on Twitter @cbccolleen.


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