It’s impossible to put a price on the benefits of art and culture. Except when you’re, like, broke. While it would be swell to pick up a fabulous piece of art from a chic gallery, dart to a nice evening show at the theater, and follow it up with a rock concert, for most of us, that’s just not in the budget.
Thankfully Rochester has a plethora of arts and entertainment options, many of them exceedingly affordable. Smart culture vultures can capitalize on their frugality even more if we know the right places to hit, and at what times. Here’s a list of options that will get you a looooong way on a little scratch. But use it only as a starting point. Check out City Newspaper every week for a comprehensive calendar of events.
Rochester is undeniably a music town. There are so many concerts at so many venues so many nights a week that it would be impossible to list all the venues (consult www.rochestercitynewspaper.com for a comprehensive list). But if you’re looking for good tunes on the cheap, there are numerous standbys worth considering.
For acoustic and folk, coffeehouses are always a good bet, and Rochester has many with live music. Daily Perks, Boulder Coffee, Flat Iron Café, and Little Theatre Café regularly feature musicians with covers rarely exceeding $10. For blues, Beale Street Café, Rab’s Woodshed, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que have live acts most nights a week and the performances are typically free.
Classical music concerts are abundant. While the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s regular tickets aren’t cheap, they are affordable, and the RPO also has smaller ensembles that play around town for little or nothing. Students from the Eastman School of Music can be found playing at many area churches, and its faculty and students regularly gives low- or no-cost concerts at the school itself. In fact, most area colleges have excellent music programs and frequent concerts that rarely cost a thing. Not to mention, there are numerous quality classical ensembles that play throughout the year for reasonable admission prices.
Rochester loves its jazz, as evidenced by the very popular Rochester International Jazz Festival each June. In addition to the big-ticket concerts the festival provides several free street stages packed with quality touring and local artists. Not to be missed. During the year, consider the Grill at the Strathallan or Horizons Lounge at the Lodge at Woodcliff, which host jazz musicians on the weekends.
Our rock and pop clubs typically charge $10 or less for local and regional acts. Check out The Bug Jar, Water Street Music Hall, hard-rocking Penny Arcade, defiantly alt A/V, Montage Live, California Brew Haus, High Fidelity, and many of the bar and clubs at East and Alexander to see what’s on the schedule.
Since most galleries are free to browse at your leisure, checking out visual art is a good way to get lots of culture while not spending a lot of money. Rochester’s galleries are a diverse bunch, and many of them offer opening receptions with free food and drink for an extra budget boost. Also, take advantage of the area’s many colleges, most of which house excellent art centers that show multiple exhibits at one time.
For another option for sampling many styles in one trip, check out Anderson Alley Artists’ Second Saturdays open house (noon to 4 p.m., second Saturday of each month, October through May), where you can meet and jaw with three floors’ worth of artists in their studios while looking at their work. For free! Also consider Genesee Center for the Arts and its numerous galleries and the ARTISANworks collective (which will cost you $12 per visit).
Our local art museums --- the Memorial Art Gallery and George Eastman House --- do charge admission, but the MAG offers reduced prices on Thursdays 5-9 p.m. (you can also take a tour at 6:30 p.m., so get in on that action).
1570 Gallery 1570 East Avenue, 770-1923
All Things Art 65 S Main Street, Canandaigua, 396-0087
Anderson Alley Artists 250 N Goodman Street, #212,473-0070, www.andersonalleyartists.com
Art Stop Gallery 10 & 12 North Avenue, Webster, 872-5710, www.artstopllc.com
ARTISANworks 565 Blossom Road, Suite L, 288-7170, www.artisanworks.net
A\V 8 Public Market, 615-8446, www.avspace.org
Friendly Home Memorial Gallery 3156 East Avenue, 385-0298
Gallery On Main Street 131 South Main Street, Canandaigua, 394-2780
Genesee Center for the Arts 713 Monroe Avenue, 271-5183, www.geneseearts.org
George Eastman House 900 East Avenue, 271-3361, www.eastmanhouse.org
Image City Photography Gallery 722 University Avenue, 271-540, www.imagecityphotographygallery.com
International Art Acquisitions, 3300 Monroe Avenue, 264-1440, www.internationalartacquisitions.com
Jembetat Gallery 645 Park Avenue, 442-8960, www.jembetat.com
Link Gallery City Hall, 30 Church Street, 624-4913
Little Theatre Café 240 East Avenue, 258-0400, www.thelittle.org
Memorial Art Gallery 500 University Avenue, 473-7720, mag.rochester.edu
Mercer GalleryMonroe Community College, 1000 E Henrietta Road, 292-2021, www.monroecc.edu/depts/vapa/mercer/
Mill Art Center and Gallery 61 N Main Street, Honeoye Falls, 624-7740, www.millartcenter.com
More Fire Glass Studio 80 Rockwood Place, 242-0450, www.morefireglass.com
My Sister’s Gallery Episcopal Church Home, 505 Mt Hope Avenue, 546-8439
Nan Miller Gallery 3450 Winton Place, 292-1430, www.nanmillergallery.com
Nazareth College Arts Center 4245 East Avenue, 389-2700, www.naz.edu/artscenter
New Gallery Arts & Cultural Council, 277 N Goodman Street, 473-4000, www.artsrochester.org
Oxford Gallery 267 Oxford Street, 271-5885, www.oxfordgallery.com
Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery 71 South Main Street, Canandaigua, 394-0030, www.prrgallery.com
Renaissance Art Gallery 74 Saint Paul Street, 423-8235, www.rochesterrenaissanceartgallery.com
Rochester Contemporary 137 East Avenue, 461-2222, www.rochestercontemporary.org
Rochester Institute of Technology Bevier Gallery, James E. Booth Building, 475-7680 | Gallery r,775 Park Avenue, 242-9470, www.rit.edu/~galleryr | NTID Dyer Arts Center, Johnson Building, 475-6855 | SPAS Gallery, Gannett Bldg 7B, 475-2770; www.rit.edu
Spectrum Gallery Lumiere Photo, 439 Monroe Avenue, 461-4447, www.lumierephoto.com
SUNY Geneseo Lederer Gallery, Brodie Hall, 245-5211 | Lockhart Gallery, McClellan House, 245-5814 | Opus Gallery, MacVittie College Union, 245-5516; www.geneseo.edu
Tower Fine Arts Center and Rainbow GallerySUNY Brockport, 180 Holley Street, Brockport, 395-2805; www.brockport.edu
University of Rochester Gallery at the Art and Music Library, Rush Rhees Library, River Campus, 275-4476 | Hartnett Gallery, Wilson Commons, River Campus, 275-4188 | Rare Books and Special Collections Library, River Campus, 275-4477 | Rossell Hope Robbins Library, Rush Rhees Library, River Campus, 275-0110; www.rochester.edu
Vagabond Gallery 32 South Main Street, Canandaigua, 394-8680, www.vagabondgallery.com
Visual Studies Workshop 31 Prince Street, 442-8676, www.vsw.org
Williams Gallery First Unitarian Church, 220 S Winton Road, 271-9070
Williams-Insalaco Gallery34 Finger Lakes Community College, 4355 Lakeshore Drive, Canandaigua, 394-3500, www.fingerlakes.edu
Tickets to the theater can be expensive. Some of the smaller local groups charge as little as $5 to $10, while some of the big fish can go $20 to $50. Thing is, the quality is usually worth it. To save some bucks, always consider matinee performances. They’re usually cheaper and often less crowded.
Beyond that, several companies --- including Geva and Shipping Dock --- offer pay-what-you-can nights at some point during a run; keep your eye out for these prize cheapo opportunities, but don’t be too stingy.
Area college theater programs are bursting with soon-to-be-big talents who are ready for their close up. Shows are going on seemingly all the time, and tickets rarely cost more than $10.
Many of the theater companies also do staged readings of new plays. Granted, you won’t get the full experience, but if you’re looking for a good story to take you away for an afternoon, it does the trick. And also, usually free. Geva, Shipping Dock, and the Plays in Progress series will periodically schedule these under-the-radar events, so stay on your toes.
Blackfriars Theatre 28 Lawn Street, 454-1260, www.blackfriars.org
Bread & Water Theatre New Life Presbyterian Church, 243 Rosedale St, 271-5523, www.BreadAndWaterTheatre.org
Downstairs Cabaret Theatre 20 Windsor Street, 172 W Main Street, and 540 E Main Street, 325-4370, www.downstairscabaret.com
Geva Comedy Improv 75 Woodbury Boulevard, 232-4382, www.gevatheatre.org
Geva Theatre Center 75 Woodbury Boulevard, 232-4382, www.gevatheatre.org
Greater Rochester Repertory Companies 438 Quaker Meetinghouse Road624-8360, www.grrc-arts.org
JCCenterstage Jewish Community Center, 1200 Edgewood Avenue, 461-2000, www.jccrochester.org
A Magical Journey Thru Stages Auditorium Center, Suite 380, 875 East Main Street, 935-7173, www.mjtstages.com
Mercury Opera 26 Gibbs Street, 473-6567, www.operafactory.org
Nazareth College Theatre Program Nazareth College Arts Center, 4245 East Avenue, 389-2170, www.naz.edu/dept/theater-arts
NTID Performing Arts Panara Theatre, 475-6254, www.rit.edu/~423www/
Nuts and Bolts Comedy Improv Downstairs Cabaret Theatre 2, 172 West Main Street, 503-7815, www.nutsandboltsimprov.com
Off-Monroe Players Salem United Church of Christ, 60 Bittner Street, 234-0500, www.off-monroeplayers.org
Penfield Players www.penfieldplayers.org
Plays in Progress Project 377-8911
Rochester Association of Performing Arts 727 E Main Street, 325-3366
Rochester Children’s Theater Nazareth College, 4245 East Avenue, 385-0510, www.rochesterchildrenstheatre.org
Rochester Community Players 261-6461, www.rochestercommunityplayers.org
St. John Fisher College Passion Players Cleary Family Auditorium, 385-8325
Shipping Dock Theatre Visual Studies Workshop, 31 Prince Street, 232-2250, www.shippingdocktheatre.org
Shipping Dock Unleashed! Visual Studies Workshop, 31 Prince Street, 232-2250, www.shippingdocktheatre.org
SUNY Brockport Department of Theatre Tower Fine Arts Center, 395-2478, Brockport.edu/theatre
University of Rochester International Theatre Program Todd Theatre, River Campus, 273-5159, www.rochester.edu/College/ENG/theatre/
At this point, even matinees are expensive at the typical chain theaters. If you’re willing to wait a couple of weeks, you can save some serious cash at one of the area’s second-run movie houses. Movies 10 gets new flicks pretty quickly, and charges a mere $1.75 a show (although it increases to a whopping $2.25 on Fridays and Saturdays after 6 p.m.). On Tuesdays you can subtract an additional $1 from the price. So yes, a movie for 75 cents. The Cinema offers double-feature bills, two flicks every evening for $5, and two weekend matinees for $3. Popcorn for everybody!
If you’re willing to take a bit of a drive, in the summer you can head for a double-feature and some nostalgia at the Vintage Drive-In in Avon. Tickets are just $7 for people 11 and older, $2 for kids under 10.
Lastly, read City Newspaper every week for a chance to score free passes to advanced screenings of new flicks. It’s a great way to see all the big buzz movies without paying a cent.
Brockport Strand 93 Main Street, Brockport, 637-3310, www.strandtheater.com
Canandaigua Theatres 3191 County Road 10, Canandaigua, 637-3310
Cinema Theater 957 South Clinton Avenue, 271-1785, www.cinemarochester.com
Dryden Theatre George Eastman House, 900 East Avenue,271-4090, www.eastmanhouse.org
Geneseo Theatres 4180 Lakeville Road, Geneseo, 243-2691
Little Theatre 240 East Avenue, 258-0400, www.thelittle.org
Loews Webster 12 2190 Empire Boulevard, Webster, 251-8851
Movies 10 2609 West Henrietta Road, 292-5840, www.cinemark.com
Pittsford Cinemas 3349 Monroe Avenue, Pittsford, 383-1310
Regal Culver Ridge 16 2255 Ridge Road E, Irondequoit, 544-1140, www.fandango.com
Regal Eastview Mall 13 70 Eastview Mall Drive, Victor, 425-0420, www.fandango.com
Regal Greece Ridge 12 176 Greece Ridge Center Drive, 225-5810, www.fandango.com
Regal Henrietta 18 525 Marketplace Drive, 424-3090, www.fandango.com
RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium 657 East Avenue, 271-1880, www.rmsc.org
Tinseltown USA/IMAX 2291 Buffalo Road, 247-2180
Vintage Drive-In, 1520 West Henrietta Road, Avon, 226-9290, www.vintagedrivein.com