Comp Ticket Dilemmas: To Ask For Them or Not?
By Sarah Grubb
I have to admit – I love going to shows. I like to see live music, theatre, musicals, circus stuff, sometimes gallery things, live events… pretty much anything that sounds interesting to me that I am free to attend I try to see. One thing I struggle with is comp tickets.
I love this industry. I work with amazingly talented people who are successfully supporting their creative-driven fields. The basis of our motivation is to entertain the general public. It’s really impressive when colleagues and industry friends alike also find work entertaining – which doesn’t happen on every gig.
But what do you do when there is a show you really want to see, but you don’t think you can afford it? Or when there is a show you kind of want to see, but you aren’t sure if it is worth it. What do you do when you are offered complimentary tickets to a show you know isn’t good? And of course, there are always those of your non-industry working friends who just ask you for freebies all the time. These things can make working in this industry rather trying at times.
I really struggle with this. I never like to take advantage of people, particularly because I do not like people to take advantage of me. Sometimes, I feel like I am biting the hand that feeds me. But on occasion, when I am really broke, I feel like the expensive tickets are just silly for the arts community.
I typically only use comps that have been offered to me. If I have recently engaged a particular supplier who might be involved in a show I want to see, I do sometimes ask. But even then, it’s usually a supplier I am quite well acquainted with or even friends with. I usually try to ask for house seats that I can buy for a reduced rate.
I am curious to know how others deal with this dilemma. Has anyone mastered the art of comp ticket negotiation? What is the best way into the hottest tickets in town without pissing anyone off? Does anyone think you could put your career in jeopardy by asking too much?
It’s a fine line that deserves some discussion.
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