Seats for a Song

Enjoy the best of Bay Area culture without breaking the bank

We know you crave culture the way sugar addicts crave Pixy Sticks. But if you can barely afford rent — or you're just cheap — try these tricks to save bucks:

Bookmark Funcheap (http://sf.funcheap.com) for the lowdown on free or nearly-free performances slated for the coming week.

Snap up same-day, half-price theater tickets at TixBayArea.com or at the kiosk in Union Square, starting at 11 a.m. Planning ahead? You can buy half-price tickets up to a month in advance too.

Ask if "limited view" seats are available. You may not see every little thing that happens onstage, but you'll pay as little as a third of the regular price.

Show up early. Many box offices release discounted rush tickets an hour or so prior to showtime. For the SF Ballet (www.sfballet.org), that means $20 house seats. Some rush tickets are status-specific: For $10 American Conservatory Theater (www.act-sfbay.org/) tickets, you must be a student, senior, teacher, or under 30.

Be an usher. Dress in black, grab a flashlight, and show up an hour and a half early for free admission to City Arts & Lectures (www.cityarts.net/) programs at the Herbst Theatre ­— and many other live performance events.

Get $10 admission to the Ballet, $25 to the Opera, and free City Arts & Lectures events with your student ID — if your prof calls ahead to hook you up.

Stand up. SF Opera (www.sfopera.com) sells 200 standing-room-only tickets the day of the show, beginning at 10 a.m.

San Francisco Fringe Festival (www.sffringe.org) plays are a steal even at face value. Got $10? You're in. Got nada? Check out the free sneak preview Sept. 8 at 1 p.m.

Free Night of Theater: On Oct. 2, local theater companies will dole out thousands of tickets for performances running from Oct. 13 through Nov. 11. Reserve yours at TixBayArea.com.

Free museum days. Most museums allow the public to slip in for free one day a month. A sampling:

First Tuesday: De Young Museum (www.deyoungmuseum.org), SF Museum of Modern Art (www.sfmoma.org), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (www.ybca.org/), Legion of Honor (www.thinker.org/legion/), Asian Art Museum (www.asianart.org), Cartoon Art Museum (www.cartoonart.org).

First Wednesday: California Academy of Sciences (www.calacademy.org/), The Exploratorium (www.exploratorium.edu), SF Zoo (www.sfzoo.org).

Join mailing lists. Clubs like Slim's (www.slims-sf.com) and the Great American Music Hall (www.gamh.com) give away free tickets every week via their weekly newsletters and MySpace sites.

Tag along on one of several dozen free San Francisco City Guides tours (www.sfcityguides.org) to get the lowdown on local neighborhoods and artistic movements.

Celebrate with a free flick. On your birthday, the ticket-taker at the Balboa Theater (www.balboamovies.com) will wave you by.

 
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