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Indy on a Budget

Affording the Arts

Theatre programs, performances and education that won't break your wallet

November 01, 2011
"Studies have shown that participation in the arts is directly related to better in-school performance, such as accelerated cognitive development, higher GPAs, a greater ability to work within a group setting and advanced creativity," Holly Stults, associate director of education at Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre's Jr. Civic, said. But with performing arts education funds being cut from our public schools, it's becoming more imperative that parents build arts education for children into their family budgets.

"More and more arts programs are being cut at schools; therefore, guardians need to look other places for that important exposure," Catherine Wade, associate artistic director at Young Actors Theatre, said. "Youth becomes engaged in a different way when watching the arts. They are participating in critical thinking, comprehension, self reflection and more – all in one moment."

The greater Indianapolis area has many neighborhood community arts centers, museums, theaters and concert halls. These organizations offer many affordable and sometimes free options for performances and arts education. With a little preplanning, families can enjoy live theater without all the burdening costs.

Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel produces shows specifically for children, and their annual Jr. Civic mainstage musical features a cast of all children. Ticket costs are reduced for children 12 and under, running at $20 for a musical and $15 for a play. The theater also offers group discounts as well as subscriber perks.

The Children's Museum offers a wide variety of performing arts opportunities for families, including museum theater within galleries, participatory creative drama and the formal Lilly Theater. Lilly Theater tickets are free with museum admission or a museum membership. "In one day, for the price of museum admission, you have access to the Lilly Theater and 10 galleries full of different types of museum theater!" Jennifer Pace Robinson, the Children's Museum's vice president of experience development, said.

"Young Actors Theatre shows are unique because they are casts of only youth," Wade said. "We have youth performing for youth - there is nothing like children seeing other kids their own age performing." Young Actors Theatre offers student discounts as well as discounted rates for groups of more than four kids.

The Children's Theatre Institute (CTI) targets different children's age groups with their lineup of shows. "Our attitude is that we don't want anyone not to be able to come due to finances," James Leagre, executive director/founder of Children's Theatre Institute, said. The best bargain for CTI is to purchase one of their two types of season passes: one is a flex pass which admits you to three of the five shows, while the other pass admits you to all five shows.

The Asante Children's Theatre (ACT) is a professional theater organization committed to preserving the tradition of African and African-American performing arts. "We offer an incredible opportunity for children to see young actors, oftentimes close to their age, confidently performing on stage," Keesha Dixon, executive director at Asante Children's Theatre, said. For their annual performances in March and June, this theater hosts a "community night" special, selling all seats for $5. They also offer bring-a-child discounts where children under 12 get in at a discounted rate when accompanied by a paying adult.

No matter the theater, families can find discounts by purchasing tickets on the day of the performance as soon as the box office opens. Theatres may offer educator/military discounts and coupons in entertainment books. Check for occasional listings on daily deal sites such as Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com and GoldStar.com, a daily deal site specifically for arts and entertainment. And avoid the refreshment stands at the performances – those snacks can add up quickly!

Perhaps one of the most reliable ways to save money is to buy theatre tickets in bulk. Many theaters offer discounts for group bookings, and most don't require an "official" group to get that discount. "Get a group together!" Wade said. "Find other children in your neighborhood, school or church, and get a group rate to save some money!"

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Tags: Enrichment, In This Issue, Local, money

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