New York City on the Cheap: Performing Arts

According to an art report last year by the Boston Foundation – in an effort to see how their city measures up to other dense urban areas – New York City sees annual arts revenues of over $5 billion per year.

Luckily, one does not need deep pockets to enjoy some of the finest culture in the world. Cheap tickets in the city, particularly for performing arts, are more available and easier to acquire than one would think (and none so hopeless as the Hamilton lottery).

Most of the following options are limited to two tickets per person, are subject to availability or to limited performances, are on a first-come-first-serve basis and include the stipulation that, for student tickets, students must have their I.D.s. There are five different ways to get cheap tickets, all with different time commitments and risks: digital lotteries, in-person lotteries, standing room, general rush and student rush.

Tickets to: Broadway

Broadway Week is currently running until Feb. 5, which means two-for-one tickets. Depending on the show, this could still mean a pretty penny. Shows this spring include: A Bronx Tale, Dear Evan Hansen, The Front Page, In Transit, Jitney, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Oh, hello and Waitress.

The site Broadway for Broke People lists all currently running Broadway shows with corresponding lists of theater addresses, preview dates, and, most importantly, a list of ways to get the cheapest tickets. Complete with hyperlinked instructions, the “Cheapest Tickets” column has web addresses to enter in digital lotteries, when to show up to wait in line at the box office for rush and information on what app you’ll need to enter into select lotteries on the go.

Tickets to: The Metropolitan Opera

Founded in 1883, the Met Opera has hosted, and continues to host, some of the most talented performers and composers in the world. If you want to look like you have more than $1.63 in your bank account, a visit to the Met will alleviate your feelings of poverty (at least outwardly).

Daily rush tickets online ($25)

        - By 12 p.m. for Monday through Friday performances

        - By 2 p.m. for Saturday evening performances

        - Four hours before curtain for Saturday matinees

Standing room

  • Starting at 10 a.m. day of show via box office, phone (212.362.6000) or online for Monday through Saturday evenings ($25-$30)

Student Tickets

  • Register for student program ($37.50)
  • Also available at the Met Opera box office with ID at 10 a.m.

Tickets to: The New York City Ballet

The New York City Ballet is world-renowned, touring regularly throughout the U.S. and overseas. Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine founded the Ballet and the American Ballet School at Lincoln Center. Discipline. Resilience. Students rarely have either; maybe seeing it embodied could help.

  • By 10 a.m. via the box office (in-person) for Monday through Saturday performances

  • By 11:30 a.m. via the box office for Sunday performances day-of
  • $30 for those under 30 years old

Tickets to: The New York Philharmonic

Since the Philharmonic was founded, it has premiered or commissioned works by composers from every era. At the Philharmonic, one can hear a fantastic composition by a brilliant composer like the Tchaik-man or numerous other dead white European greats.

Open Rehearsals        

  • From 9:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ($20)

Student Rush

  • Up to 10 days before the concert at or at the David Geffen Hall Box Office on the day of the performance only ($18)

Tickets to: Carnegie Hall

Dubbing itself the “world’s most famous concert hall,” Carnegie Hall offers concerts for a wide range of musical tastes. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Look it up.

Student Rush

  • Become a Carnegie Hall Student Insider  ($15)

Partial View, Full Sound

  • 50% off normal ticket price


  • By 11 a.m. via the box office or CarnegieCharge (212-247-7800) for Monday through Saturday performances ($10)
  • By 12 p.m. via the box office for Sunday performances ($10)

Tickets to: Jazz at Lincoln Center

Heading out to Lincoln Center for a night of jazz in the “spirit of swing” is a Kingsian rite-of-passage. First-years, don’t let the culture die.

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola

  • Student discount on cover charge for Monday and Wednesdays and for all nightly 9:30 p.m. sets.
  • 11:15 p.m. late night sets on Tuesday through Saturday with student pricing Tuesday through Friday at ($5) and Saturday ($10)

Student Rush

Tickets to: The Public Theater

The Public Theatre does more than Shakespeare in the Park during the summer. In line with the organization’s dedication to making theater accessible to all, even someone who thinks selling their copy of Plato’s Republic on TKC Craigslist is O.K., the organization offers special ($30) tickets for students.

Mobile Lottery

  • Download the TodayTix App
  • By 12 a.m. each performance day until 10 a.m. for matinees and 12 p.m. for evening performances ($20)

Student Rush

  • Via the box office ($30)