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How Seattle Teens Can Get Into Plays, Museums And Arts Shows For Just $5

At a time when theaters and museums around the U.S. are seeing aging audiences and declining attendance, a Seattle organization has reported its best year yet in its efforts to turn out an unlikely audience to arts events: teenagers.

The nonprofit program, called TeenTix, lets teens gain entry into plays, art galleries and other cultural venues for less than the price of a movie ticket.

How It Works

Teens who sign up for a free TeenTix pass can get same-day tickets to arts events and venues for just $5 as long as tickets aren’t sold out. The program has 53 partners — the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Repertory Theater the Museum of History and Industry, to name a few — that offer discounted tickets to their events.

"My friend and I went to see [the Pacific Northwest Ballet's] 'The Nutcracker,'" said Indy Bungiranto, 16, who first got his TeenTix pass at a teacher's urging. "And we paid $5 for Dress Circle seats, which normally cost $130."

Bungiranto says the sign-up process is easy; some of his friends even signed up on their smartphones before the performance.

TeenTix passholders are generally purchasing leftover tickets for seats that remain unfilled when the box office opens. Even though the arts venues could potentially sell the tickets at a higher face value, partner organizations absorb the difference in hopes the teens grow up to be full-paying patrons.

Bucking The Trend: A Record-Setting Year

A survey by the National Endowment of the Arts survey found young adults were among the least likely to visit an arts gallery, attend a classical music performance or watch a theater production.

But TeenTix says it’s gaining momentum. Last year, the program’s passholders purchased more than 10,000 tickets to local arts events — a big jump from some 6,200 tickets sold in 2010 — setting a record for the 10-year-old nonprofit group.

"TeenTix began in that moment [in 2004] where there was just a budding awareness of this issue," said executive director Holly Arsenault. "Now, a decade in, everyone is alert to the need to diversify audiences in every regard, not just age diversity."

Many organizations offer discounted tickets for younger audience members who may be too old for TeenTix. The Seattle Opera, for instance, offers half-price tickets to members of its young adult club. The Seattle Symphony offers $12 tickets for college students.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.