On her way out of an art lecture one day, Saskatoon theatre professional Kristen Holfeuer got to thinking: about art, about reciprocity between artists, and about how that tends to begin by building a community.
It was then that Holfeuer and Cynthia Dyck, from On the Boards Staging Company, came up with the idea for the Art Card.
The idea is simple: the Art Card is a performance discount card that is available to professional artists. The purpose? “(It is) to stimulate audience attendance within our own artist community by making live performance more affordable and also by paying respect to fellow artists by offering the discount,” Holfeuer explains. “It’s another way of saying, ‘we value you, and that is why your attendance is important to us.'”
Holfeuer launched the Art Card website in September, which allowed artists to buy the card for $10. If they showed the card when buying tickets, they would get a 25 per cent discount from participating companies.
Within months, every major theatre company in Saskatoon had signed on, including Persephone Theatre, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, Dancing Sky and Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company. “Each (company) has a core audience but all are looking to expand,” Holfeuer said.
“Surprisingly, all need help pulling in audiences from the arts community. So it sounded like we had, in fact, come up with a truly reciprocal project. By offering discounts, the (companies) could, hopefully, access and pull in an audience that was maybe always curious about their work, but just wasn’t making it out to the shows.”
The Art Card isn’t just limited to theatre professionals: visual artists, crafters and any other members of Saskatoon’s arts community are also welcomed into the fold.
Now, Holfeuer is searching for more artistic companies to join — and many are wondering if the idea could spread to other cities. In Edmonton, the Citadel Theatre offers an Industry Pass, but it’s limited to theatre professionals buying tickets to Citadel shows. What makes Art Card unique is its multi-discipline approach: non-theatre companies participating include White Birch Ballet, Free Flow Dance and Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.
Currently, artists with an Art Card are getting their discount at Theatre Naught’s presentation of King Lear, which runs until Jan. 12 at Persephone’s Backstage Stage. Later this month, Llewelyn Productions will also accept Art Card discounts when it stages the world premiere of Girls! Girls! Girls presented by Live Five at The Refinery.
For more info on The Art Card, and to see the full list of participating companies visit www.artcard.ca