Why You Need to Become a PDX Performing Arts Season Subscriber

Here’s why it pays to be a season subscriber of your favorite theater.

Courtesy of David Kinder

I grew up in a tiny, rural town in east Texas, and the one thing it had going for it was an unexpectedly thriving performing arts program. That’s when I fell in love with theater (and learned not to pronounce it the-yay-ter). 

As a young adult and new parent, I made it a priority to take my kids to live performances like The Nutcracker, even when they were young and money was tight. I had to make sacrifices in other areas, but never once did I wonder, is this worth it? I knew from personal experience that exposure to live theater can change your whole life’s trajectory.


Now I live in Portland, Oregon, where we are flush with options for world-class live performances, and I take advantage of one of the best deals that venues have to offer: season subscriptions. 

Why Become a Season Subscriber

Courtesy of Joan Marcus

I’m basically evangelical about subscribing, and here’s my pitch for becoming a regular: 

Save money. 

Thanks to my Broadway in Portland subscription, my tickets to Hamilton were a fraction of what my friends paid. By purchasing a venue’s entire season, you receive steep discounts on all the shows, even the most popular ones. (Raise a glass — Hamilton is coming back next March!) 


One of the best subscription deals in town can be found at Oregon Ballet Theatre. “With OBT’s Family Package,” says OBT Executive Director Shane Jewell, “You can save up to 50% on three full-length, family-friendly story ballets at the Keller Auditorium.” If you’re wondering if this package includes The Nutcracker, the answer is yes! 

Get premium benefits.

Many venues also offer additional perks, such as priority seating, free ticket exchanges and early ticket access. Early access is my favorite bonus, because it means I can choose the best seats within my chosen price range. (Broadway in Portland, for example, offers different subscriber tiers based on seating sections in the theater.) 

Reduce mental labor. 

Say goodbye to decision fatigue, because once you subscribe, you have planned the fun for an entire year. Spend 15 minutes putting the dates on your calendar, and relax. When all your friends are setting alarms for the moment Wicked tickets go on sale, you’ll already have them in hand, at a discount.  

Once you subscribe to a venue, everything is easier. You know where to park, you know where you’re sitting, and you know to bring cash for the snacks. 

Support the arts. 

If you don’t want to see these incredible local performances disappear due to budget shortfalls, the best thing you can do is invest in a season subscription. “We are grateful to our loyal season subscribers, who provide Broadway Rose with a stable and predictable source of revenue, which allows us to plan and budget more effectively,” says Alan Anderson, marketing director of Broadway Rose Theatre Company. This sentiment is echoed at theaters across the city.

Some venues do not offer season subscriptions, but there are still ways to support their work. At Oregon Children’s Theatre, for example, you can join the OCT Producers Circle. By becoming a monthly donor (at any level), you receive early ticketing access, complimentary booster seat rentals and coat check, and exclusive invites to OCT events, including backstage tours. Northwest Children’s Theater has a similar program that offers 10% off mainstage tickets and classes, and 5% off Catalyst programs, for a donation of at least $10 per month. 

When you subscribe or donate, you become a participant in the arts community, and you are automatically exposed to new stories and perspectives. “We believe theater is fundamentally about connection, storytelling, and contributing to the vibrant tapestry of human experience,” says Ela Roman, marketing and communications director at Portland Playhouse, “and our subscribers are an integral part of bringing that to life.” 

How to Become a Season Subscriber

Courtesy of Oregon Symphony

Every venue has a slightly different process, but there’s one easy way to make sure you don’t miss the purchase window: Sign up for their e-newsletter. You’ll be the first to know when season subscriptions go on sale, typically in the spring. 

What you get in each package also varies by venue. For example, Oregon Symphony sells three season options that are especially great for families: You can watch feature films accompanied by the live orchestra with their Popcorn Series, listen to hit songs with their Pops Series, or delight even the youngest music lover in your house with their Music for Families Series. Pro tip: Some venues only allow children over a certain age to attend, often 6 or 8, so it’s important to check before purchasing. 

Whether you love dance, musicals, plays or concerts, there’s a venue ready to become your family’s favorite place to see a show. Go make some memories. 

What if Cost is a Barrier?

It takes a little extra effort to see shows on a tight budget, but it absolutely can be done. Here are ways to save big:

Split a season package with a friend.
Skip the annual vacation and invest in year-round fun instead.
Ask for tickets as a holiday or birthday gift.
Take advantage of pay-what-you-wish nights at Portland Center Stage and Portland Playhouse.
Buy discounted rush tickets an hour before showtime at venues across the city.
Cash in your child’s summer reading coupons from the library.
Utilize your library’s free cultural pass program.
If you qualify, purchase $5 Arts for All tickets. 

Meg Asby
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