The Arts on a BudgetWe’re not suggesting that you stop paying full price to take your kids to the ballet, theatre or symphony, but many parents feel that artistic pursuits are inaccessible for one reason or another.  Excuses for not exposing children to these media range from ‘But the hockey was on’, ‘He will get bored’, ‘My baby cries all the time and she will disrupt things’ …to ‘It is too expensive’. Here are some outside-the-box ways to give it a go and mitigate the reasons for staying home.

1. Go to your favourite park on a sunny day and chances are you’ll get some live music. A saxaphone, choir or impromptu dancers can often be found in Urban parks.
Cost: money in the hat.
Kid-Friendliness: Kids can run, and you can stay for as long as you like.
Effort: Take a walk in the park.

2. Stick a tot in a stroller and do an Urban Hike, You can each grab a notebook and pen, and have some fun. Depending on the age of your child, you can find shapes, images in media billboards, graffiti tags, or colours.
Cost: Free
Kid-Friendliness: Excellent.
Effort: Minimal. Making up a ‘game’ that is age appropriate.

3. PWYC. Get to know your city and what is offered. If you can ‘Pay What You Can’, a play or ballet where little ones may only last one act isn’t a big financial loss. Art galleries often have free dates or times, and rush (last minute) tickets for performances are often available at a huge discount.
Cost: What you can Afford
Kid-Friendliness: Great if you find something with an intermission that will hold your child’s interest.
Effort: Search the net and find out when the deals happen.

4. Student Exhibits. Art colleges often have exhibitions of student work, theatre schools offer free performances, and musicians can be heard from outside conservatories. Walk by some day and a cacophony can be heard.
Cost: Free
Kid-Friendliness: Dart whenever you must.
Effort: Walk home a different way to hear some music practice.

5.  Festivals.  Look in your local paper for times and dates of Folk Music Festivals, Exhibitions, Festivals of Dance and Theatre.  Summer is always a great time for these.  February?  Kiwanis music festivals also offer great performances by youth and when your little ones see their peers with a cello in hand, they may beg to learn an instrument.

Enjoy, and ‘Viva La Vie Boheme!’

– Jill Amery loves the arts.