To help you squeeze in more arts this year, we've rounded up reader-tested tips on local arts deals. We’d love to add to the list — email firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.
1. Subscribe to a season of family theater or music at one of your favorite arts organizations, which cuts costs per show and helps you plan ahead. Check for early-bird subscription specials. Many subscriptions provide steep discounts, flexible options for exchanging tickets, and even discounted parking.
2. The Seattle Symphony’s Family Connections Program offers two free tickets for kids ages 8–18, with the purchase of just one adult ticket, for Delta Masterworks series concerts, Untuxed performances and Seattle Pops.
3. Most museums have a good kids' discount. For example, kids ages 12 and younger are always free at the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The Henry Art Gallery is free for kids younger than 13 and always free on Sunday. The Frye Art Museum is always free for everyone (including free parking). Bellevue Arts Museum offers a $35 family ticket and is free for children under age 6.
4. If you have a Bank of America card you are eligible for one free admission to several local museums (including SAM, TAM, Wing Luke and BAM) on the first weekend of every month, through the Museums On Us program.
5. Kids ages 12 and younger are free at Town Hall Seattle’s Family Concert series, which brings in well-known musicians, such as Caspar Babypants. (Accompanying adults only pay $5.)
6. Downtown Tacoma museums are conveniently located within blocks of each other and offer several bundled discounts, including the Tacoma Museum Pass (one price gets you into six museums over a year period). Several, including TAM and Washington State History Museum, also offer free admission on Third Thursdays (usually in the evening, check hours).
8. For every adult ticket purchased to the UW World Series President’s Piano or Chamber Music series, you can add two free youth tickets (ages 5–17).
9. A great way to give your kids some hands-on experience with classical music and instruments is to bring kids to a family-oriented classical concert (both Seattle Symphony and Tacoma Symphony Orchestra have affordable series that include hands-on time with instruments). Also look out for free community concerts, or concerts by local orchestras.
10. Seattle Public Library, the Pierce County Library System and the King County Library System allow patrons to check out passes to select museums as they would a book, including the Seattle Aquarium, MoPop, Tacoma Art Museum and even Woodland Park Zoo. (You have to plan ahead: Passes usually become available at 9 p.m. each night.)
11. Teen Tix is an amazing program that allows teens to get $5 day-of-show tickets at 75 Seattle-area arts venues. On Sundays (for shows) and Thursdays (for museums), Teen Tix tickets are two for $10, so your teen can bring you along.
12. Look for the preview or pay-what-you-will shows that (usually) happen early in a theater run, and short previews at local libraries. Pacific Northwest Ballet, for example, hosts library previews, $10 previews, and affordable dress rehearsals. SecondStory Repertory's children's shows include a cheap Sunday matinees for very young kids. Many theaters also offer day-of rush tickets for a significantly lower cost.
13. Organize a group outing to a show and get a discount as well as the fun of a shared arts experience.
14. Sign up for the email newsletters or “like” the Facebook pages of arts organizations, which is where they often advertise giveaways and discounts.
16. Many museums now have multiple free days per month. See ParentMap's Free Museum Days list.
17. If you’re a member of a museum, check for reciprocal membership privileges available to you at other museums.
18. Seattle Opera offers a “Family Day matinee” discounts for select performances, as free family-oriented open houses.
19. Bring the kids to a concert or show at a local high school, or a student production of a professional theater, whose productions are often very good and very affordable.
20. Local coffee shops, libraries, farmers markets and festivals often have a live music line-up, and are a fantastic way to expose your kids to new kinds of rhythms and songs.
21. ParentMap’s online calendar lists hundreds of events a month and allows you to search for those that are “free.” Find more affordable events and giveaways by signing up for ParentMap’s weekly enews and “liking” our Facebook page.