This past weekend I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite plays, “Spring Awakening” for absolutely free. At the end of 2012 I won season tickets to a regional theater in my area (my best sweepstakes win to date). We had great seats in the orchestra, and it reminded me how much I love the arts – especially theater. I was a theater minor in college, and I don’t see nearly enough live performances, especially given that there are frugal ways to make the arts a part of your life. Today, I’m going to share a few easy tips for experiencing arts and culture, even when your budget is tight.
Right down the road from the regional theater I attended is a local high school which is a magnet school for arts and theater students. At least once a week I pass its gates with a sign promoting an upcoming production. Because it is a performing arts high school – they do runs of shows you would actually want to see – including newer plays and musicals that may have sparked your attention. One way to enjoy theater on a budget is to skip the regional and national theaters entirely. High schools, Colleges, and Community Theaters do very impressive productions, and tickets are inexpensive – sometimes around $10.00. Now, I realize that student productions aren’t the same as professional ones – but let’s say you have a theater budget of $100.00 per year. You could see one big show (probably to the tune of $40-50), and then you could see 3-5 additional student/community productions. This can really round out your theater experience.
My next tip allows you to go to professional theaters, but for much less money. Every year you can purchase an Entertainment Guide Book for your area which has hundreds of two-for-one deals and other discounts. There’s an entire section devoted to theater and entertainment. You can typically get two tickets for the price of one to most of the major theaters in your area using coupons from the book. The books expire around November – so right now they are on sale for 50% off. Most are selling for only $17.50, PLUS you can purchase them through ebates and get 17.5% cash back, so we’re talking about eight months of fantastic savings, and lots of half priced theater all for less than $15.00. There are also a ton of dining discounts in the book, so you can make it a fancy evening of dinner and a show. Can you tell I love the entertainment guide?
Another little trick for seeing a play without spending a ton of money is to get on the mailing list for the theaters around you. Doing so, you can find out about special offers such as preview nights and “pay what you can” events. The great thing about the folks who put on theatrical productions, is that they want to spread an appreciation for the arts to the community at large. Many theaters have it in their mission to find ways to offer inexpensive theater to the community. You can often catch a preview night of a show, which basically means you get to attend a final dress rehearsal. You might catch a line flub or two – but all-in-all, these performances are pretty much the real deal. Other theaters offer discount nights for the community, or will offer free tickets via a lottery system to select performances. I am a personal fan of the “pay what you can” nights that some theaters are adopting. I love the arts, and I want to support them – but sometimes the full price of admission is challenging. At these events I can still financially contribute, but I’m not overextending my budget.
I think experiencing the arts is something that makes your life so much richer. I love that you can have the luxury of artistic expression for less than you’d think.
Do you have any other tips for seeing theatrical productions on a limited budget?