Uncovering the best of Vancouver's arts bargains
Getting a taste of art and culture doesn’t have to come with a hit to your pocketbook. With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy the best Vancouver has to offer, and still have plenty left over for a late-night tipple. Here are a few tips on how to get the biggest cultural bang for your buck.
If you’re blessed with a large circle of friends, you can get a few dollars off the price of tickets for a number of performances by going in for a group rate. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra offers discounts for parties of 10 or more for most concerts, starting at 15 percent off the regular adult price. (Book with customer service at 604-876-3434.) The Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company offers a similar deal, cutting $6 off the regular adult ticket price for groups of 10 or more for all shows except previews and openings. They’ll also throw in a guided backstage tour on show day, as well as discounts at partner restaurants for pre- and post-show meals. (Book at 604-637-3094.) Bard on the Beach, which wraps up this weekend, offers $3 off tickets to groups of 15 or more for shows excluding previews, matinees, and special events. (Call 604-708-5400 to book.)
Flash your youth
In addition to discounts for students of any age, a few organizations offer savings for those whose birthdays don’t predate the ’80s.
The VSO has introduced an all-access pass for patrons aged 30 and under. This free pass will get you two $15 tickets to any eligible concert in the 2011-12 season, which can be purchased up to two weeks before the concert date. The Arts Club Theatre Company offers cheap StudentRush day-of tickets if you’re packing a student card for high school, college, or university. Grab a $20 front-row ticket online or at the box office on the day of the performance—and be sure to have your student card on hand when you arrive at the show.
At the Cultch, youths 19 and under can snag $5 rush tickets an hour before the show—one per person. If you’re under 18 and don’t mind hanging with your parents (or another couple of geezers) for an afternoon, Vancouver Opera is offering family matinee pricing for West Side Story. The deal gets you two adult tickets at regular price and up to two tickets for the youngsters at $35 each. (Call 604-683-0222 to book.) The Pacific Baroque Orchestra offers free admission for all people 19 years of age and under, while $10 student rush tickets are available at the door. And the Vancouver Recital Society’s Youth Club allows students in grades 1 through 12 to attend a minimum of three concerts for $16 each. Over at DanceHouse, regular tickets are just a little more than half-price for students.
Choose your time wisely
If you can get down to a box office an hour or so before the curtain goes up, you might be able to snag discounted rush tickets to whatever is playing that night. Or consider checking out a preview performance, where kinks are still being ironed out. Matinees can also be a bargain, while some organizations have specials on certain nights of the week.
At the Vancouver TheatreSports League, all Thursday shows are half-price, and Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. production is just $8 a ticket. The Vancouver Art Gallery is by donation if you visit on a Tuesday after 5 p.m. And at the Playhouse, previews of Tosca Cafe, Red, and God of Carnage are $33; La Cage aux Folles is $41. Rush tickets come even cheaper, at $20 for Tosca Cafe, Red, and God of Carnage, and $30 for La Cage aux Folles. For the first Saturday matinee of the Playhouse main-stage shows, any unsold seats are pay-what-you-can—in cash, at the door.
Play the numbers game
The most reliable way to consistently save on shows is to purchase a subscription package. This will cost you more upfront, but will save you cash in the long run, especially if there are a number of shows that pique your interest. Just about every performing-arts organization offers a variety of subscriptions, such as the Arts Club’s $299 SixTix mix-and-match vouchers for productions at any of its three theatres, or its $139 Granville Island Flex Pass, which gives you four tickets to any production at the Granville Island Stage and Revue Stage.
The Cultch offers similar deals, with Build-Your-Own subscription packages for four or eight performances that will save you 25 percent or more on single-ticket prices.
The VSO has 13 different subscription series, in addition to a build-your-own-series option. And Ballet B.C. offers subscribers discounts on special touring productions, like the Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Chances are your favourite organization has a package to suit your taste and price point.
More and more organizations are looking to connect with the public using social media. By joining Facebook fan pages, following Twitter streams, or regularly reading an organization’s blog, you can sometimes be privy to special promotions that aren’t otherwise widely publicized. Case in point: a couple of years ago, Vancouver Opera offered a two-for-one deal for members of its Facebook fan page.