The Lonely Londoner’s Arts & Culture Guide – London for Artists – Part 3
Let’s face it, for every artist living it up in London or in any big city, there is always the dilemma of bright lights versus small budget. How do you satisfy your artistic appetite when confronted with a limited budget? For playwrights, you want live theatrical performances. For painters, your muses might be hanging on the walls of the portrait gallery. For musicians, your catalyst might be the pianist’s notes echoing throughout the music hall. And for the aspiring novelist, your guiding light might be on the steps to their favorite author’s house.
However, all of these experiences around the city come with a price tag, and while London for Artists is one of the greatest culture capitals in the world, it is also notoriously expensive.
Don’t worry; I’m not trying to be overly dramatic.
Yes, it’s one thing to be the creative person that you are and have inspiration come to you sitting at your own desk. But you gain a totally different understanding of your work when you engage your creative mind with absorbing real-life cultural experiences.
Historically, London has proved itself as a fertile environment for creative minds, some of the worlds greatest artists have emerged from the city; William Shakespeare, Joseph Turner, George Frederic Handel, and Charles Dickens to name a few.
You can visit for yourself where these great minds began.
And even better, they are affordable too.
So here are some inexpensive places around London for Artists that you can see for yourself and will get those gears turning in your mind.
London for Artists – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has been in the last century an unbridled success. Recently, over the past few years, the theatre is just starting to be recognized for their education program where tourists can drop in for talks and dramatic readings of Shakespeare’s plays. More so, die-heart Shakespeare fans can fully enjoy the Globe Theatre’s commitment to faithfully recreate a true original Shakespeare experience by putting on the majority of his most popular plays from April to October.
But the most important way that a young artist can true appreciate the craft of a Shakespeare performance is to fully immerse his/herself in the Globe Theatre’s open-air and free-standing Yard. While the Globe Theatre does provide seating within the circular perimeter of the theatre, tickets can cost between £17 – £43. And that’s just for sitting down!
But if you are willing to stand for the entirety of a Shakespeare play, tickets are only £5 just to be on one’s feet right in front of the stage. Now what an experience that could be instead of sitting down!
There’s a name for people who attend a Shakespeare play and stand in the Yard of the Globe Theatre: “Groundlings.” And they are the ones who get themselves close to the stage and close to the overall Shakespearian excitement.
You can purchase £5 tickets for the Yard of the Globe Theatre here:
London for Artists – National Theatre
First impressions go a long way when you set your eyes upon the National Theatre. True it doesn’t have the same spellbinding appearance that the Globe Theatre has, but despite its concrete-clad, 1960’s architecture, no visit to London is incomplete without seeing at least one performance held at the National. Made up of three auditoriums – Olivier, Littleton and Cottesloe – the National attracts its audience by putting on daring productions and ambitious adaptations.
Great plays have emerged from the National such as Michael Morpurgo’s ‘War Horse’ – which is now being performed on the West End of London – and Mark Hadon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.’ Over the past several years, the National has been successful in developing high-publicity productions to be broadcast all over the world; productions such as Danny Boyle’s role-swapping smash-hit ‘Frankenstein’ and the brilliant production of ‘Coriolanus.’
Seats at the National can cost up to £50, but if you sign up on the National Theatre’s website and become an Entry Pass Member, you can buy a ticket to a performance for only £5! There’s an allocation of Entry Pass tickets at every performance at the National so booking early is the best way in which you will be guarantee a good seat.
Sign up for an Entry Pass for the National Theatre here:
London for Artists – London Philharmonic Orchestra
One of the world’s finest symphony orchestras in the world, the London Philharmonic has a long distinguished reputation as one of the UK’s most brilliantly produced orchestras. Their performances are held at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and always flourish every year with more intellectual and emotional energetic programs.
Friends and patrons can enjoy exclusive access to attend a private rehearsal at the Royal Festival Hall. Young artists can have the opportunity to delve deeper behind-the-scenes of the LPO as well as sit alongside works by Mozart and Beethoven.
Ticket prices vary from concert to concert. However, if you sign up to be a member at LPO, you can gain access to special events as well as obtaining £5 tickets for each performance held by the LPO.
Or if you’re a student, you can get discounted tickets to selected LPO concert through the year via NOISE. Students will receive £4 best available seats to selected concerts. However, if you’re not a student – but are under 26 years-old – you will receive £8 best available seats to selected concerts.
To become a member to the LPO, you can sign up here:
Or if you’re either a student or under the age of 26, you can sign up through NOISE for affordable tickets here:
London for Artists – The Royal Albert Hall
Built as a memorial to Queen Victoria’s husband in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall’s vast rotunda has been the venue for the BBC Proms since 1941. The Royal Albert Hall has a splendid exterior that is matched by the regal red-and-gold interior which is crowned by a domed strained-glass skylight. Classical concerts are not only held here, but also pop performances, comedy gigs and Cirque du Soleil extravaganzas.
Tours are also held throughout the Royal Albert Hall, usually costing £15. But with your student ID, you can take a tour of the Royal Albert Hall for only £10. You will be offered the rare opportunity to view the Hall’s auditorium and the Royal Retiring Rooms where the Royal Family gets ready to before a big performance.
Or you may enjoy an Afternoon Tea Tour of the Hall by enjoying a quintessentially Grand Tour of the Hall followed by Afternoon Tea or Champagne Afternoon Tea served in the elegant surroundings of the Hall’s Verdi restaurant.
Student ID is required to be shown, so tickets for a tour or for a concert performance is preferred to be shown in person at the front desk of the Royal Albert Hall. There, you will receive a discount on your ticket for tours* and will be shown what performances will offer £5 tickets.
* Note: If you plan on getting a discount for any of the tickets at the Royal Albert Hall, buy your tickets in person 24-hours in advance.
London for Artists – iTV Studios
If you ever want the opportunity to attend a live tapping of either The Graham Norton Show or Alan Carr Chatty Man and be in the same room with multiple celebrities – British or American – you can actually apply for tickets to be an audience member on their shows . . . for free.
That’s right! You can have the chance to enroll in any live show taped at iTV studios in London without paying a dime.
But there’s a slight catch. Though the tickets are free for anyone who wishes to apply, you are not guaranteed to actually get the tickets nor are you allowed to pick the date that you wish to attend iTV studios.
This is because as much as iTV studios wishes to book a full audience for each of their shows, they are unable to issue tickets to everyone who applies. It’s a little bit like a waiting game. If you receive an email which informs you that the studio has selected you, then you will be given your tickets and an assigned date. With that, you’re good to go and show up at iTV studios.
However, if you do not obtain any free tickets, the studio will then add you to a list of other people who they will randomly select for their next taping.
Through tickets are issued at random, you might get lucky and find yourself with a pair of free tickets to be apart of the English comedy universe.
To sign up for the possibility of gaining free tickets you can select which comedy taping you would like to be part of and sign up here:
London for Artists – Barbican Centre
The Barbican Centre is Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue presenting a diverse range of art, music, theatre, dance, film and the home to the London Symphony Orchestra. The Barbican’s gallery is perfect for anyone who is a interested in photography, paintings or sculptures. Barbican presents for its visitors an international dynamic mix of not just art but of architecture, design and fashion.
The Barbican includes The Curve, an art exhibition at the heart of the centre which presets new and recently produced works by contemporary artists through a program of temporary exhibitions.
From new cinematic releases, international theatre shows and a live orchestra, the Barbican Centre has everything to offer for a young artist.
A standard ticket online costs about £10 and at the door it’s £12. But if you’re between the ages of 16-25, you can register for discount prices at Young Barbican.
When you sign up, tickets go down to £5.
You can sign up here to obtain your discounted tickets:
So being the artist that you are, I can image that you are on a tight budget. But at the same time, you want to be a part of all the artistic/theatrical/musical lifestyle that London for Artists has to offer.
Just because you are visiting one of the worlds most expensive cities doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot to get your money’s worth of inspiration.
You just have to look hard enough to find the greatest deals.