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5 Free Events to Support the Arts Outside the Theater

July 27, 2016 by Chris Bell
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On the walls of the Kennedy Center, there is a quote that reads “…to widen participation by all the processes and fulfillments of art – this is one of the most fascinating challenges of these days”. These words ring true even in the midst of our fast-paced and stressful lives. If your bank account is what’s keeping you away, here are some free events to keep the power of art in your life.

1. Shakespeare Theatre Happenings Happy Hour


Ease on down to the Shakespeare Theatre every Thursday from 6:00-7:00pm for drinks and a show. This low-key, locally focused shindig invites D.C. area artists like Clown Cabaret, Violin Dreams, Silk Road Dance Ensemble, and Press Play Improv to join in the conversation by creating performances inspired by whatever’s playing on the Shakespeare Theatre’s stage. Decide to go on a whim after work gets out? No worries! No reservations (or dollars) required.

2. Folger Shakespeare Library Tours


Ever wanted to see a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio? There’s a cheap and easy way to satisfy your Bard fix by visiting the Folger Shakespeare Library. Docent-led tours are offered 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays you can snag one at 12:00pm or 3:00pm. Tours of the Elizabethan Garden also available on Saturdays (April through September only) at 10:00am if you’re looking to chill in the sun.

3. Jazz in the Garden


Every Friday in May through September, you can catch come see some of D.C.’s top jazz artists perform in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden from 5:30-8:30pm. You can purchase food and drink from the Pavilion café or bring your own picnic if you’re trying to save some cash. Jazz in the Garden gets cancelled for extreme weather or excessive heat, so try not to set the dancefloor ablaze with your hot moves.

4. Art on 8th

Art on 8th

If you only have a few bucks to stretch out over the whole weekend, head over to Art on 8th. You’ll find something fun and free to do every day for three days in a row! On Thursday you can listen to ‘Music’ on the Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market, Friday you can ‘Dance’ on the Brookland Busboys and Poets Plaza, and Saturday you can ‘Get Creative’ at Dance Place. This family-friendly event runs from May to September, and it definitely brings the arts to the people and happiness to the wallet.

5. Millennium Stage

Millenium Stage

The Kennedy Center hosts free concerts every day at 6:00pm. (Let that sink in.) The best part? If you don’t want to leave your bed but still want to watch the show, you can stream it live on the Kennedy Center website for free. Jackpot.

Inspired by what you’ve seen? Find tickets and other last-minute deals here.