What’s the most common barrier to experiencing a classical music performance? Is it knowledge of the repertoire? Is it inconvenient geography/traffic patterns between home and the concert hall? One of the most common barriers to classical music is simple: ticket prices. So, as we gear up for the 2018-19 performance season in Southern California, I thought I’d take a look at a couple of local organizations who are trying to tackle this problem in systemic and creative ways.

LA Opera

Would you believe LA Opera reaches more people through its outreach and community engagement programs than the company does through its mainstage performances? It’s true. One such program is called Community Circle. Through Community Circle, LA Opera makes available 200 orchestra section seats at every single performance. These tickets are either free or heavily subsidized at just $9 per ticket and are distributed to underserved community centers, low-income senior centers, and schools. Organizations can fill out an application to be included in the program.

Additionally, as part of the Community Circle program, LA Opera chooses several performances per season and offers admission to military veterans free of charge. Tickets for all young people, ages 9-17, are always half-price as part of the Domingo Family Program.

LA Chamber Orchestra

A program geared toward college students (age 17-30) is called Campus to Concert Hall. This is a whole package of tickets to 30 (!) different LACO concerts—basically everything the orchestra does all season. Guess how much that costs. Nope, not that much. The entire package is available for just $30. It’s LACO’s answer to ESPN’s 30 for 30. For those looking at tickets to just one performance, student tickets to LACO are just $8 apiece.

A new program this year is the Student Ambassador Program, which engages college students to be a viral marketer for LACO, sharing information about the Campus to Concert Hall deal and other LACO performances to their friends on campus and via social media. In return, the student ambassadors will be given a Campus to Concert Hall pass gratis.

LA Phil

In past years, the LA Phil has had an initiative called Phil the House, which were free performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall. For the orchestra’s 100th anniversary season, they’re super-sizing their free-ticket game. This year’s program is called 100 for the 100th: Be Our Guest and will make 100 tickets available for free to 100 different performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall — that’s 10,000 free tickets! Distribution for 7,000 of those tickets will go through the offices of each LA County Supervisor to community organizations in their districts. The LA Phil’s education department will distribute the remaining 3,000 tickets via Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), the Dudamel Fellows Program, and other initiatives.

Reserved student tickets for select LA Phil performances are $20. Non-reserved student/senior rush tickets start at $10, subject to availability.

I hope you’re able to take advantage of these great programs. It’s worth noting that nearly every major performing arts organization has some type of program for low-income or fixed-income individuals and families. I’d encourage you to check with your favorites to see what resources are available in your community. I hope to see you at the concert hall!

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