Seattle has one of the richest and most unique performing arts scenes in the country. As I am personally interested and involved with various forms of performance art, I am incredibly grateful that I have been lucky enough to grow up in a city where theater, opera, dance, variety, acrobatics, and countless other forms of performance are readily available. However, like many other art-interested teenagers, I have a pretty limited budget for local shows and other performances. Cost has dissuaded many young people from getting involved with their local arts scenes, contributing greatly to the disinterest that some feel when it comes to arts in the community. However, the costliness of many local shows impacts more than individual adolescent performance-goers; the larger issue at hand has to do with the fact that these young artists will one day be the leaders of the artistic community. In order to make shows more affordable for teenagers, Seattle Center partnered with various local arts organizations to launch Teen Tix in 2004. Teen Tix is a local arts-access program for teenagers whose mission is to engage young audiences in the local art community. As explained on the Seattle Center website, “Teen Tix serves teenagers by making Seattle’s rich cultural life affordable and accessible to them…By facilitating teens’ arts encounters while empowering them to design and initiate those experiences, Teen Tix not only delivers all of the benefits of arts to teens, it also brings to the arts the gift of an engaged and enduring community of young patrons.”
A Teen Tix pass allows members to purchase day-of tickets for more than 35 theaters, museums, exhibits, and arts festivals in and around the Seattle Center area for only five dollars. Membership is free and available to anyone 13-19 years of age, and a biweekly electronic newsletter lets members know about arts events and opportunities all over the city. I signed up for the program as soon as I turned 13 and have used it to purchase discount tickets for everything from the Pacific Northwest Ballet, to Unexpected Productions, to the Seattle International Film Festival.
Though it is satisfying to get into Seattle Opera for less than it costs to park downtown, the most important thing about Teen Tix is that it connects teenage artists and audiences to local art. It can be easy to overlook the younger generation of arts patrons, but it is this teenage audience that will one day be running and starring in our local theaters, dance troupes, and arts museums. Teen Tix is immensely important to the youth and arts community of Seattle because it makes it possible for many teenagers who would otherwise never get the opportunity to attend and get involved with the arts community that will soon belong to them.