Culture on a (Raggedy) Shoestring

Everyone loves a bargain, what else could force us into the soul-destroying doors of our local Primark?

London is notoriously harsh on the pocket, so I’m going to suggest a few ways of keeping yourself amused, and intellectually stimulated, on a budget.

First things first: never, ever pay full price for a theatre ticket. Nearly all the major theatres in London have youth schemes, whereby registering you are applicable for free or heavily discounted tickets. There are often limited numbers of these so plan ahead and book quickly. If they do not have a youth/student scheme (eg The Young Vic) then they often do preview tickets, which are £10ish for the first few showings.

This is to encourage people to go and create a buzz about the play, so write about it on your blog if you have one- you may get a free ticket next time! The good thing about The Young Vic is that there is no assigned seating, so if you manage to get a cheap ticket, then you’re just as likely to be sat at the front as a full-pricer. Don’t get cocky though, no-one wants to be ssshhh-ed during a play.

Secondly, sign up to newsletters. Aside from ‘Time Out’ offers and things you read in the Metro, there are loads of arts newsletters that give you information on exhibitions and events in your area. The most interesting one that I have found, with specific sections dedicated to free or cheap events, is ‘Run Riot’.

A lot of the stuff is based in North London but it has suggested some real gems in the past. It also has reviews included, so if you’re not sure about something you can read a few interesting perspectives first. Sign up to the Rough Trade mailing list and you’ll not only get updates on the music you should be listening to, but they’ll also tell you about the free gigs they have in store every few weeks.

And thirdly, don’t be afraid to beg, borrow or steal. (I’m not condoning the last one) A Tate membership is £60 a year, but if you and a few friends share, or get one each  for a different institution, then you can save loads on exhibition entry fees. The British Museum has a cheaper student membership at £35.  There’s no harm in being a bit cheeky, charming your way into a gallery opening isn’t illegal, and you’ll get some art viewing, free wine and some interesting (although perhaps pretentious) conversation out of it.

Last but not least; keep your mind open. Okay, so a Scandinavian folk-rap dance trio may not sound like your cup of tea but if you can get a cheap ticket, go. It might open a whole new area of culture to you, and if not, the horror will provide many an anecdote for your next few Wetherspoons sessions.

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