Jacques Lareau and girlfriend Sophie Paquette arrived at Place des Arts in downtown Montreal for a Dec. 30 performance of the Nutcracker with three of their four children in tow — 6-year-old Cassandre, 4-year-old Alexandre and their infant son, Colin.
Colin was strapped to his mother in a baby carrier, fast asleep. He was brought along because Paquette was nursing.
And so Lareau and Paquette were surprised when a member of the Place des Arts staff told them the baby would need a ticket to attend the ballet, as per the venue’s policy.
“I was with the kids. Since it was Santa Claus who brought us the tickets, I didn’t want to make a scene,” Lareau told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.
So he paid the $42 and the family enjoyed the performance.
Once he was home, Lareau checked the website of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the company responsible for selling the tickets.
He said that the company's policy requires tickets for children aged 2-12, but nothing indicated that a child under 2 years old would need one.
After CBC News contacted Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the company said it would refund the cost of the baby's ticket. It later told the family they would pay them back for all the tickets purchased.
Ticket policies for babies
Lareau said that it never crossed his mind that he would have to pay up for baby Colin, since tickets for children that age aren’t required on airplanes, the Bell Centre or at a number of other family-friendly events.
On top of that, Lareau said Colin didn’t even get a seat for his ticket — the baby had to remain strapped to Paquette for the duration of the play.
So he sent an e-mail to the venue’s public relations department, which promptly replied with a link to a page buried deep on the Place des Arts website that explained the rules.
Marc Blondeau, president and CEO of Place des Arts, said the policy relating to young children is a longstanding one and is enforced as a safety measure.
“For security reasons, we need to know how many people are in the room,” he said.
Still, he said he was sympathetic to Lareau’s disappointment.
“I can tell you I totally understand his situation, but I think Place des Arts needs to ensure the best possible conditions for everyone,” he said.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens spokesman Olivier Le Galliard said the company doesn’t mind allowing babies into its performances for free.
But, he added that the company has to defer to Place des Arts attendance policies, since it is the venue that houses the annual performance.