The Guardian

Snap up a masterpiece! Our brilliant bumper guide to gaming the arts

Free tickets! Lunchtime thrills! Killer deals! Culture on the cheap needn’t mean a seat in the stratosphere. Find out how in our UK guide to arts on a budget
Who says you can’t afford a great artwork? … let our guide help. Photograph: Adam Butler/AP

One of the founding myths about culture is that it’s inaccessible: barely a month goes by without a news story about opera being too exclusive or theatre-lovers being priced out of their seats. There’s a grain of truth to that, of course. Temporary exhibits at major museums such as the National Gallery in London have passed £20 and, according to recent research, top-price tickets for over half the shows in London’s West End go for over £100 (let alone associated costs such as transport and eating out).

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Compared to many countries, we in Britain get a pretty good deal when it comes to culture, buttressed by schemes such as free admission for national museums, enshrined under the Labour government in 2001, and arts councils and National Lottery funding, which keeps prices down and many arts organisations alive.

And there are ways to game the system, if you’re on it: membership or newsletter discounts; on-the-day tickets and lottery systems at theatres; pay-what-you-can events; free festivals; off-peak cinema deals. Major theatre and opera events are now screened in cinemas for a fraction of what they cost to see live, and nearly every arts centre in the country offers some

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