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TeenTix aims to get students engaged in the arts

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 4/18/2019 By Taylor Fang, iGeneration Youth
Mark III Iron Man Armor. Marvel Studios’ Iron Man (2008). TeenTix, a Seattle-based nonprofit, breaks down the barriers that prevent teens from accessing art through their TeenTix Pass Program. Teens may purchase $5 day-of-show tickets to events, such as Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, an exhibit currently at the Museum of Pop Culture. © Jonathan Pulley/Museum of Pop Cu/iGeneration Youth/TNS Mark III Iron Man Armor. Marvel Studios’ Iron Man (2008). TeenTix, a Seattle-based nonprofit, breaks down the barriers that prevent teens from accessing art through their TeenTix Pass Program. Teens may purchase $5 day-of-show tickets to events, such as Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, an exhibit currently at the Museum of Pop Culture.

High school junior Huma Ali says some of her friends don’t think they can afford to attend live theater programs.

Ali, 17, is involved TeenTix, a Seattle-based nonprofit and one of the few in the nation aimed at getting students engaged in the arts by offering discounted tickets to movies, music, theater, visual art, dance, and more.

“I have friends who think arts is … super expensive and they can’t take part in it. But they can, it’s only $5 to go see a show and it’s really fun,” said Ali, who lives near Seattle. “A lot of teens like to watch movies and such, and I’m like ‘you can.’ ”

TeenTix was founded in 2004 as part of the Seattle Center, a downtown Seattle cultural and arts area. The nonprofit includes three main programs: the Pass Program, the New Guard, and the TeenTix Press Corps. The Pass Program allows teenagers ages 13 through 19 to attend arts programs and movie theaters, for $5.

The Orb. Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). TeenTix, a Seattle-based nonprofit, breaks down the barriers that prevent teens from accessing art through their TeenTix Pass Program. Teens may purchase $5 day-of-show tickets to events, such as Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, an exhibit currently at the Museum of Pop Culture. © Jonathan Pulley/Museum of Pop Cu/iGeneration Youth/TNS The Orb. Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). TeenTix, a Seattle-based nonprofit, breaks down the barriers that prevent teens from accessing art through their TeenTix Pass Program. Teens may purchase $5 day-of-show tickets to events, such as Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, an exhibit currently at the Museum of Pop Culture.

Although TeenTix is based in the Seattle area, Executive Director Monique Courcy said she sees its model expanding nationwide. TeenTix worked with leaders in Chicago to launch the Teen Arts Pass in May of 2018, she said. The first year there were 25 inaugural arts partners.

“Accessibility to the arts is not just for a big city,” Courcy said. “It’s about storytelling and communication.”

TeenTix has expanded to three counties in the Seattle area, with about 75 partners that represent dance, music, theater, cultural heritage museums, and visual art museums, Courcy said. She estimates that teenagers have received more than 61,000 passes to see events.

“Seattle has a really rich arts scene but it’s kind of hard when you don’t have a lot of money coming in to see it,” said Kendall Kieras, 16, a high school junior living near Seattle. “Whenever you’re bored on a Saturday, TeenTix is a great way to cure that boredom because there are a million things you can do and a million shows you can see for $5.”

The program comes at a time when teens are spending more time sleeping, doing homework, and using screens than they were a generation ago, according to a report released in February by Pew Research Center. Students ages 15-17 report they have five to six hours of leisure time per day on average, with much of that time spent on a computer or phone.

a person wearing a mask: Black Panther’s costume worn by Chadwick Boseman in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther (2018). TeenTix, a Seattle-based nonprofit, breaks down the barriers that prevent teens from accessing art through their TeenTix Pass Program. Teens may purchase $5 day-of-show tickets to events, such as Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, an exhibit currently at the Museum of Pop Culture. © Jonathan Pulley/Museum of Pop Cu/iGeneration Youth/TNS Black Panther’s costume worn by Chadwick Boseman in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther (2018). TeenTix, a Seattle-based nonprofit, breaks down the barriers that prevent teens from accessing art through their TeenTix Pass Program. Teens may purchase $5 day-of-show tickets to events, such as Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes, an exhibit currently at the Museum of Pop Culture.

Attending arts programs periodically might not be the same as school-based programs, but students say the lower cost encourages them to participate in events they might not otherwise attend.

“It’s definitely made me appreciate the arts scene,” Ali said. “It opened my eyes to how accessible art is around here. Another thing is … it’s been very educational because I’ve learned about things going on in the world.”

And TeenTix is about more than just entertainment.

“Without teenagers appreciating what arts and culture has to offer, we’re going to lose out on continued support as an arts and culture center,” Courcy said. “TeenTix is about showing the value of civic engagement and exploring your community, understanding what resources are available to you, (and) what different types of work your community’s producing and putting on.”

And there are other reasons why teens want to attend theater, arts programs, or movies.

“Our research suggests that being in large crowds of people all engaged in an activity is really rewarding for people,” said Shira Gabriel, a psychology professor at the University at Buffalo in New York. “We want to feel connected to others; we want to feel like we’re part of a social world.”

TeenTix users Kieras and Ali recently attended events like Sound Off! at the Museum of Pop Culture, a battle of the bands for groups under 21, and “The Addams Family” musical. Ali also attended a self-portrait performance art show, which she said she wouldn’t have known about without TeenTix.

“Teens are really excited when they have an opportunity to go see something like a dance show or an opera and they get a seat that maybe would cost an amount of money that they couldn’t afford,” Courcy said. “They get to be right up front. They get to be in the action.”

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Taylor Fang, 16, is an iGeneration Youth reporter living in, Logan, Utah.

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Follow iGeneration Youth @igyglobal on Twitter.

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©2019 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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