Arts, culture, theatre, and travel go hand in hand.
When I first started to travel, I assumed that seeing the world was all about attending glamorous galas and visiting the theatre every night. I wish that was the case! I’ve learned to blend my love of the arts with some value driven practices so I can enjoy the experiences more frequently.
Bard on a Budget
I've been attending Shakespeare in the Park and pay-what-you-can Shakespeare events from my very first years of travelling. I've always enjoyed the beautiful costumes and dramatic stage scenes, as well as the festive pageantry before the main performance.
In Ottawa, a local troupe known as the Company of Fools puts on an extensive pay what you can summer program and I try to make it every year. As a value focused traveler, accessible Shakespeare makes tremendous economic sense to me, but there is a deeper value as well.
The chance to see a great show, be part of a local community event, and see such a diverse group of people enjoying an historic art form makes for a truly special experience. I’ve also seen Shakespeare in more formal, but still value focused settings. I've attended performances at Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London (the standing floor seats are the best deal in the entire city!) as well as in such unusual locations as Cedar City, Utah. The University of Southern Utah puts on a tremendous festival each year in this most un-Elizabethan of settings.
I was fortunate to be exposed to the theatre at young age, taking in performances at Nova Scotia's Rebecca Cohn and Neptune Theatre. Later, while attending Queen's University, I was able to combine student discounts with dress rehearsal prices to the Grand Theatre and attending new plays was less expensive than attending the movies. (Not that I paid for movies either - I volunteered at the local independent theatre and saw art house films for free!)
While living in England, I had access to same day ticket booths for discount show admissions. I continued my dress rehearsal winning streak by attending performances at the Glyndebourne Opera House. I've discovered that if you are open to anything and not hung up on the idea of attending an opening night performance you can see amazing theatre - both mainstream and alternative - for bargain prices.
Frugal Fine Art
I started visiting art galleries because it seemed like the kind of thing that people ought to do when they travel. I kept it up, even though I didn't really know what I was looking at, because so many art galleries offered free admissions that it seemed a shame not to go.
My passion for the freebies in life continued as I took advantage of every complimentary tour offered at each gallery and slowly I started to learn more about what I was looking at and develop my own preferences. While I'll still go look at any kind of art, I now really look forward to seeing some of my favourite artists and styles.
The art world can be an intimidating place for a novice and, unfortunately, the reputation for snobbishness is often deserved. It may help to learn a bit in advance about artists whose lives have been less than ordinary, like Maud Lewis and Jack Yeats, and whose unusual path and style can help break the ice.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. What is the best play or performance you've ever seen in your travels?
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