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High culture, low cost

Times Staff Writer

Big discounts to cultural events aren’t just for students and seniors anymore.

Some of the major performing arts groups in the Los Angeles area are cutting back or eliminating student/senior rush lines in favor of deep-discount programs available to all.

The catch: Buy early.

“We had practically trained people to come at the very last minute,” said Marjorie Lindbeck, general manager of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, which performs in Walt Disney Concert Hall. “That didn’t do us much good.”

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Early ticket sales, discount or not, help set the course for marketing. And designating bargain seats in ground-floor, highly visible locations helps makes the auditorium look nicely full.

“You create the atmosphere that every concert is a hot ticket,” Lindbeck said.

On Sept. 2, the chorale will begin selling $19 tickets -- about 100 per concert -- for seats directly off the right or left, near the back of the stage. Not as good as in front, but Disney Hall patrons will tell you that ensemble sound from that vantage point is pretty good and you’re close enough to see veins pulsate on long notes.

Balcony seats, in contrast, start at $48.

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The Center Theatre Group -- which produces seasons at the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the Kirk Douglas Theatre -- has eliminated rush discounts altogether in favor of its Hot Tix program, which reserves up to 3% of tickets for the run of a show.

Some of these seats are in primo spots up front, others way in the back, but all are $20 apiece. They go on sale about three weeks before the first performance of a show and are available to all.

We offer a guide to discount programs -- egalitarian or not -- of the big performing arts companies in the area.

Culture seems all the sweeter when enjoyed at a bargain price. The performance can almost make you forget that outside, gas is $4.50 a gallon.

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Free: Join the contact list for the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa, get two tickets

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$1: For L.A. Philharmonic’s Hollywood Bowl shows -- way at the top of the venue

$10: For some seats at each South Coast Repertory show’s first Saturday matinee

$15: For chorus benches at some of the L.A. Phil’s Walt Disney Concert Hall events

$20: Hot Tix price at Music Center theaters about three weeks before show opening

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