Live entertainment is often dismissed as too expensive. A quick search of ticket prices for the latest Broadway show or major band or pop star tour coming through town shows why. But before resigning yourself to watching yet another series on Netflix, consider some of these frugal alternatives and savings strategies.
Check the community calendar. From outdoor concert series in the summer to dramatic readings of Shakespeare at the local library, the amount of free and affordable live entertainment programming being offered by communities is fantastic. A quick web search of your town followed by the words "event calendar" is sure to yield a variety of results and options. Library and park websites, and of course, the local paper, are all great places to search.
Subscribe to your local entertainment venues. Rather than checking the website of your favorite live music club or stand up spot each week, get on their mailing list. Not only will you learn about all the latest acts coming through, but you'll likely get a members or insider's discount for a being a subscriber.
Get your entertainment included. Look for restaurants and bars that schedule live musicians and performers with no cover charge.
Check out the high school and colleges. High schools and colleges are great places to enjoy entertainment for less. A football game, for example, will run you a lot less than a ticket to see the pros. As for the arts; in addition to their own programming, which is often excellent, particularly at universities with notable programs, schools often host wonderful guest performers and speakers.
Ask for student or senior discounts. Always have ID on hand in case you qualify for a student or senior discount.
Check the deal sites. Deal sites like Groupon and Amazon Local have expanded nationwide and live entertainment is increasingly part of the discount offerings. Search your town in the deal databases to see what options are available near you.
Double check your Facebook. Social media events are the latest way of inviting people to concerts and shows. Check your events tab every so often to see what your friends and acquaintances are up to. Not only might you get some cheap entertainment, but you'll also be supporting a friend.
Find out the big venue policies. When the big shows and concerts come through town they probably play the same one or two theatres or arenas. Check the website of those venues and search for their discount policies. Examples of common discount offerings include standing room tickets, student rush tickets, general rush tickets and lottery tickets. Standing room tickets are typically sold the day of an event if it is already sold out and the venue has a designated space for standing room only spectators. These tickets are generally a fraction of the full price ticket. On Broadway, for example, a standing room ticket generally sells for around $30 to a show where the average ticket price is over $100.
Some venues will designate a limited number of seats to be sold at as student rush tickets. Student rush typically takes place when the box office opens on the day of the performance and requires a valid student ID. Depending on the venue's policy, each student can get one or two rush tickets at a steep discount.
General rush tickets follow the same structure as student rush, but rather than being limited to students, the tickets are available to anyone, on a first come, first serve basis. Again, you'll have to check the policy of your venue.
Similar to rush policies, some venues will designate a section of seats to be included in their lottery, which typically takes place a few hours before the show. Lottery tickets are priced similarly to standing room and rush seats, offering a great deal if you win.
All of these discount tactics are quite popular, and the more popular the show, the more people you can expect to show up. Be prepared to arrive early and wait in line. In the case of the lottery, have a back-up plan if the lottery falls through.
At the end of the day, live entertainment is largely accessible and can be affordable, if you know how and where to look.
Stefanie O'Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to "live the dream" on a starving artists' budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.
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