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Affordable Arts
A discount ticket guide for students and young professionals

By Leslie Sharkey

University students and young professionals often tend to be economically-challenged.  Attending the ballet or a symphony performance can be expensive and ever-rising ticket prices can be prohibitive.  There is, however, a beacon of hope for those who yearn to be an active part of the performing arts scene, but can’t quite afford it.

Thankfully, several performing arts organisations the world over are sympathetic to this situation.  By extending generous discounts to young adults and students (and in many cases families as well), orchestras, ballet troupes, and choral groups amongst others gain enthusiastic audiences and future patrons.  Taking advantage of discount programs provides an excellent way for students and young adults to become educated and more appreciative of art forms previously out of financial reach.

Kristi Brobeck of the Nashville Opera (USA) says, “Opera has an aura of being inaccessible; we want it to be accessible to everyone”.  In an effort to carry out this mission, the Nashville Opera provides student rush tickets, discount tickets and pay-what-you-can tickets in an effort to reach the community at large. 

One of the most inclusive discount programs offered is the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s tsoundcheck (  This program allows anyone between the ages of 15 and 29 to buy two tickets for most concerts at $10 (CAN) each.  The tsoundcheck member may take a guest of any age. Rob Piilonen, the TSO’s Audience Development Coordinator, is enthusiastic about the program.  “We have over 16,000 registered members of tsoundcheck and we are only in our third season [of the program].”

With an easily-navigated web site, few regulations and a simple purchasing process, Piilonen has found the target audience exceedingly receptive. “There are an enormous number of youths who are interested [in the TSO], but have not been given the opportunity before.”

Types of Tickets Available

            There generally are three types of reduced-price tickets available to those who qualify: Student Rush, Student Discount and Pay What You Can (PWYC) tickets.  The best way to discover if the performance you want to attend qualifies for a discount is to search the organization’s website or phone them directly. 

  • Rush tickets are a previously specified number of tickets the arts organisation releases to students (with valid ID) 45 minutes before the start of a performance.  Typically, tickets are priced at a student-friendly level, and those who want them must queue up before show time to be eligible.  Rush tickets are popular, and if the line is long, prospective concert-goers may end up doing something much less exciting for the evening.
  • Student and young adult discounts are the most popular discounts available.  Usually, a set reduction anywhere from 10% to 50% is offered to students with university credentials.  To be considered “young adults” or “young professionals”, ticket-seekers should be under age 29 and must show valid identification upon ticket purchase.  Many times, these tickets are available for the most popular performances but must be requested in advance.
  • And, of course, there is the increasingly-rare, much sought-after Pay What You Can or PWYC ticket.   Exceedingly popular, these tickets are worth seeking out.  This generous discount is literally pay what you can, though many organisations suggest a nominal “donation”.  

Often, organizations will give free public performances which are open to everyone during the warmer months.  These are excellent opportunities to hear and see classical musicians, professional dance troupes or choral groups in comfortable, informal settings.

How to Find Discounted Tickets

Now equipped with what to look for, here a few tips on how to look: 

  • Naxos provides a list of links to the websites of orchestras, choruses and opera companies throughout the world.  This is an excellent resource to research discounts and get general information.
  • Naxos also offers an extensive listing of current concert events and venues for its recording artists.
  • When studying or travelling abroad, do some research before leaving.  Budget travel guides sometimes list which cities sponsor free and reduced price performances.  An International Student Identification Card ( is also helpful.
  • Check with a local university.  Sometimes arts groups will perform on campuses for free or at a significant reduction for students with identification.
  • Investigate any discounts offered by employers. Discounts to museums and ballet and symphony performances are sometimes available to employees of larger companies. 
  • Check local newspapers and media outlets for free public performances.

Don’t let cost be the deciding factor in your participation in the arts.  If you are willing to dedicate some time in searching for low-cost alternatives, discounts and specially-priced tickets, a host of amazing performances can be yours for the asking.  Experiencing the arts is the best way to educate yourself, enjoy extraordinary talent and support worthy institutions. So, get clickin’!


The following are only a few of the groups which provide student and young adult discounts.  It is always best to contact the organisation directly, as prices and discount rules are subject to change.


  • The Nashville Symphony Orchestra sponsors the Soundcheck program,, which offers students the chance to purchase two $10 (USD) tickets for select orchestra performances
  • Great Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,, has ticket prices for as little as £7.50 for many performances
  • London’s Royal Opera,, offers a limited number of £10 tickets (tickets with a value up to £170) on Monday evenings
  • Australia’s Canberra Symphony Orchestra,, has special pricing for patrons under 27
  • Brazil’s Sao Paolo State Symphony Orchestra,, offers students with ID a 50% discount on tickets
  • The Sydney Symphony Orchestra,, gives various discounts for students with identification
  • Singapore’s Symphony Orchestra,, offers “visitor discounts” as well as free open air concerts and free campus appearances
  • The Iceland Symphony Orchestra,, offers student discounts to those who have a “Sound Card”
  • Croatia’s Zagreb Philharmonic,, offers 50% off regular ticket prices for those aged 16-25        


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