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5 ways to get your culture fix
“Only through art can we get outside of ourselves and know another’s view of the universe which is not the same as ours and see landscapes which would otherwise have remained unknown to us like the landscapes of the moon.” – Marcel Proust
What to expect: Often held in local libraries or bookstores, authors promote their latest book by reading from it for an audience. It’s a unique opportunity to hear the author herself breathe life into her own words.
What it will cost: Great news – these events are often free, but special events can run from $12-$15. If you happen to find a free celebrity author event, arrive early to get a good seat.
Newbie tip: Mix it up! Try a fiction reading one week and a poetry reading the next.
Collections of art such as photography, paintings, sculptures and multi-media installations. Big galleries will often have permanent collections as well as smaller exhibitions highlighting a particular artist or theme.
What it will cost: Depending on the size of the gallery, admission can range from $5 to $15 or more. But some of the larger galleries offer discounted or free admission at a certain time during the week, so be sure to check their websites.
Newbie tip: Don’t be worried if you don’t “get” a piece of art. Take time to explore what you do or don’t like about a piece, such as the colours and textures.
What to expect: Drama, passion and romance on a scale even grander than an episode of “The Hills.” The music may be new to you, but the emotions are the same. Although many operas are in a language other than English, theatres do provide subtitles so you can follow what everyone is singing about.
What it will cost: Prices will vary considerably from $30 to $100, with some larger companies charging up to $275 for the best seats. The prices depend on the size of the theatre, the night of the week and the location of your seat. Check with individual theatres to see if they offer a discount on rush tickets, which can be purchased a few hours before the curtain goes up.
Newbie tip: Not sure which show to pick? Check the opera company’s website for plot synopses to give you a better idea of what each show is about.What to expect: Forget the pink slippers and rigid rules of your childhood ballet class. This form of expressive dance was developed as a rebellion against classical ballet. Often very athletic rather than precious, you may even recognize some of the music as more mainstream than you’d imagine.
What it will cost: Since modern dance shows are usually shown in theatre spaces, it once again depends on the size of the theatre and the location of your seat, so prices often range from $10-$50. However, watch for festivals that offer pay-what-you-can admission.
Newbie tip: This is dance unleashed, so anything goes. Don’t be surprised to see nudity on stage or unexpected props used in innovative ways.
Impassioned, non-fiction films about both everyday subjects and serious world issues. This is a reality programming without the product placement and commercial breaks. In the last few years, a couple of these films have found spots in the local multiplexes, costing the same as the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Tickets for special documentary festivals will run you anywhere from $8 to $15. And, if you’re looking for a culture fix, but don’t want to venture too far, any local video store with a cool selection can probably rent you a doc for about $5.
Newbie tip: If you happen to live in Toronto or Montreal, the National Film Board of Canada locations in those cities have personal viewing stations with thousands of films available, including a wide variety of documentaries.