Seattle isn’t cheap, and that’s not changing anytime soon. But your budget shouldn’t stand in the way of seeing great art. Here’s how.
As the cost of living in Seattle goes up, it’s harder than ever to put some income aside for art appreciation. But with membership programs, coupons and apps, you can build Seattle’s rich cultural offerings into your budget. Here are some of the best programs for promotions and discounted tickets to live music, dance, theater, opera, and comedy around the city.
For a broad look at the arts, check out apps and coupons
If you want access to a broad mix of art options, or don’t want to be tied down to a membership at one organization, discount websites and apps like Goldstar and TodayTix, plus coupon distributors like Groupon and Chinook Book, are great options.
Both TodayTix and Goldstar are national ticketing websites and mobile apps that sell reduced tickets to local events. Through partnerships with venues all over the U.S., these sites can get you into a plethora of local arts events at half-price. Once you sign up, they will filter events to match your specifications and prices to fit your budget.
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Chinook Book and Groupon are also good options. For $20, you can buy a Chinook Book — or download the app to your smartphone for access to coupons. Deals include reduced admission to the 5th Avenue Theatre, and some music and dance venues, plus an array of discounts at local museums like Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Children’s Museum and Northwest African American Museum. Coupons are one-time-use only.
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Many local arts organizations have their own in-house programs to cut down on the costs of attending their performances.
If you love live music: Let’s face it. Going to see live music can be just plain expensive. There’s the cover or ticket charge, a bar/food/merchandise tab, and, of course, the cost of transportation. It’s even more prohibitive if you’re splurging on an arena show or a world-renowned orchestra. But there are ways to get your live music fix on the cheap if you know where to look.
For those big Top 40 pop shows at KeyArena and the Tacoma Dome, it’s almost impossible to get out without dropping less than $200. Aside from finding a private ticket seller through Craigslist, the only real route to discounts on these types of shows is through the “deals” tab on the website for Ticketmaster, the ticket vendor of KeyArena, Tacoma Dome and STGpresents. Seattle Theatre Group, owners of the historic Paramount, Moore, and Neptune Theatres, offers ticket discounts of up to 20 percent for AAA members, plus matinees and rush tickets for students.
If big pop shows aren’t your thing, the Seattle Symphony has special offers for youth and young adults ages 21 to 39 through TeenTix, Family Connections, and their MySymphony program for young patrons.
You can also find events with donation-based or sliding-scale ticketing. The Good Shepherd Center in Fremont has some of the best experimental classical and jazz music in Seattle, and only charges a $5-$15 donation. Almost all of the shows at Columbia City’s Royal Room, which hosts everything from jazz to pop to rock ’n’ roll, are also by donation. Cornish College of the Arts and the University of Washington offer discounted tickets to their student performances of everything from dance and theater to jazz and classical. (A school representative went so far as to say that tickets for Cornish events never exceed $15.) The UW’s School of Music also performs a number of free and inexpensive on-campus shows throughout the year.
If you love dance: Ballet fans have Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Pointe, but what about for those of us who love modern or hip-hop? According to operations manager Shirley Wong, Velocity Dance Center offers a $15 rate for patrons aged 25 and under, discounted from $25. Spectrum Dance Theater honors TeenTix and frequently runs promotions for discounted tickets on Facebook and Twitter. Spectrum also offers subsidized tuition to their classes for low-income families as part of the Gift Of Dance Scholarship program. Speaking of dance classes: If you like salsa, swing and country, several venues around town offer free or inexpensive dance nights. Conor Byrne Pub in Ballard offers an affordable Country Dance Night every Tuesday, starting at 8 p.m. with a dance lesson.
If you love theater: If you’re a major theater fan, becoming a member, donor or subscriber at your favorite theater company can be the best way to frequent and substantial discounts. But if you’re not quite ready for that commitment, several other programs can help out.
Seattle Repertory Theatre offers a student and military discount as well as rush tickets one hour before curtain, when all remaining tickets are sold at half-price. They also offer pay-what-you-can performances and partner with TodayTix, an international ticketing platform that sells reduced tickets.
5th Avenue Theatre has something similar: $20 day-of-show tickets, if you arrive about an hour before the performance with a valid I.D. and there are tickets available. They also have a program for people coming to see a play more than once called “See-It-Again Tickets” at 50 percent off for return viewers in specific seating zones.
Seattle Theatre Group’s Theatre Access Program (TAP) was created to increase community engagement with the arts through ticket donations to nonprofit organizations. They also offer discounts on this season’s public performances at Global Party, DANCE This and More Music at The Moore.
Smaller theaters in town also offer discounts. The Annex Theatre on East Pike has sliding-scale admission for selected performances, and hosts an Industry Night on Mondays, when you can pick your ticket price. (Another bonus at The Annex: no ticketing fees.) The UW’s School of Drama has a pay-what-you-can night every second Wednesday during their season.
If you love opera: Opera in Seattle is more accessible than you’d think, with several ways to save money on Seattle Opera performances. Every seat in the Second Tier Side Upper of McCaw Hall is $25 unless otherwise specified, but you need to purchase your tickets in advance to lock in that price. If you’re looking at the last minute, they also offer rush tickets for seniors and students (you need to apply for a membership card beforehand).
If you’re big into opera and plan to go often, Seattle Opera offers payment plans for subscribers. A $20 down payment gets you started, and from there you can use their payment plans to help spread out the cost of opera tickets. They also offer a group rate: If you bring 10 or more people to a performance, you can save 20 percent.