My roommate Nick has more expendable cash than I do, though he won’t tell me how much more—which I am learning is a perfectly reasonable factoid to keep to yourself. I, however, have no problem bitching about my monumental student debt as if I were a walking public service announcement, offering up the specifics on my crippling monthly payments and enigmatic interest rates to whoever will listen. In one such moment of self-pity and Sallie Mae hatred, fueled by a few glasses of cheap boxed wine, I exclaimed, “I’m broke!” to which Nick replied, “You’re not broke. I’ve been both poor and broken, and they don’t correlate.” The quip was made in passing, and his assessment of my semantics didn’t immediately brighten my mood, but later that week—sitting in one of Boston’s magnificent theaters, program in hand, players on the stage, tear in my shirt—I felt completely whole.
If you’re a student who blew through your semester’s savings by the end of September, someone who hands over each paycheck directly to their landlord, or someone busy working to find work, sneezing next to one of greater Boston’s many arts institutions can feel like an overdraft threat to your bank account. That should’t be the case, and in many instances, it’s not—if you know how to navigate the scene. Which is why we’ve compiled this sprawling affordable and accessible arts spread—from poetry slams to reduced-fare symphony tickets, new museums to burlesque shows, pay-what-you-can theater programs to art hiding in plain sight—to sate your cultural cravings. At least through the end of the year, anyways. If you take away nothing else, remember this: “Opening reception” almost always translates to “free wine.”