Arts Access Weekend features live performances in San Diego at “Pay What You Like” prices

Photo courtesy of the San Diego Performing Arts League

From all directions these days we are being told to take a leap into buying holiday gifts.

So if you want to make all your art loving friends and family really happy, have I got a super budget suggestion for you!

The San Diego Performing Arts League is presenting an Arts Access Weekend on December 4 and 5, offering tickets to theater, music and dance performances at “Pay What You Will” awards. You can’t beat that.

And to ensure it’s a win-win success, participating arts organizations will receive the full value of their ticket. SDPAL will subsidize the balance of the face value of all tickets sold, with financial support from the California Arts Council.

“SDPAL has been running a Pay What You Will event for over 20 years,” said Jay Henslee, president of the nonprofit arts organization whose members include 70 local arts organizations.

“We have a world-class performing arts scene here,” continues Henslee. “And what better way to celebrate the return of live entertainment to San Diego than to bring audiences back?

“The Arts Access Weekend aims to make the arts financially accessible to everyone, while supporting our local arts organizations. “

SDPAL advocates for performing arts organizations across the county and operates the iconic ArtsTix Ticket Center in Horton Plaza Park, San Diego’s ticket office for the performing arts, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary.e birthday. The ArtsTix booth offers discounted tickets year round to shows, events and attractions across San Diego.

On Arts Access Weekend, “pay what you like” tickets for theater, ballet and music will be available at the ArtsTix booth from 10 am to 4 pm on December 4 and 5.

“We want to bring people back to ArtsTix,” Henslee says. “A lot of people don’t know about the amazing deals they can get there, all year round. “

Tickets will be available primarily for performances in December and January. The phrase “Pay what you want,” Henslee explains, “means you can always pay full price and support the arts, if you want to. “

Participating performing arts organizations and the shows they present include:

The Old Globe (“Trouble in Mind”), La Jolla Playhouse (“at the yellow house”), San Diego REP (“The curious incident of the dog in the night”), New Village Arts (“1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas “), Diversionary Theater (” Azul “), Trinity Theater Company (” The Best Christmas Pageant Ever “), Coronado Playhouse” (“The Spongebob Musical”), City Ballet (“The Nutcracker”), North Coast Repertory Theater ( “Always, Patsy Cline”), Patio Playhouse (“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some”), San Diego Ballet (“The Nutcracker”), American History Theater (“This We’ll Defend”) and many more ‘others .

“I’m really excited and honored that we can do this for San Diego,” Henslee said. “I really hope this gives the boost we need to bring people back to the theater. It is a unique holiday gift and I hope it becomes an annual event.

“We need the arts more than ever. We can’t wait to be part of the public reception in the magic of the performing arts!

  • What: The SDPAL Arts Access Weekend
  • When: Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Or: ArtsTix ticket office at Horton Plaza Park, 900 4e Ave., Unit 3 (across from the US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego)
  • For more information and an up-to-date list of shows and participating organizations, visit

Pat Launer, member of the American Theater Critics Association, is a longtime San Diego art writer and Emmy Award-winning theater critic. An archive of his insights and reviews can be found at

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Kenneth T. Shippee