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How to Get Arts in MIT, Cambridge, and Boston

By Joel Rosenberg
Arts Editor

The semester has started, work's starting to kick in, and the parties - well, the parties ain't what they used to be. But instead of going to Blockbuster again, why not consider taking advantage of the major metropolitan city you have at your disposal?Here's a quick guide to the arts around town.

What to do, what to do

The first place to check for what's going on in town is the Boston Phoenix. It comes out on Thursdays and sells for $1.50, but if you can wait until Friday you can it for free. The Phoenix provides our campus with complementary copies (re-titled B.A.D. for historical reasons) which can be found on the first floor of the student center, in Lobby 7, and other places scattered around campus. In addition to perhaps the most comprehensive arts section around, the news section gives a nice alternative view of Boston politics without straying too far from the mainstream.

The Boston Globe competes with the Phoenix by publishing their Calendar section on Thursday as well. For fifty cents you can pick up the Calendar, which comes with a free copy of the day's paper. Not nearly as stylish as the Phoenix, it has generally the same information, although it's not as helpful with deciding what to do.

Another source of arts info and socialite news is the Improper Bostonian. Available free from those plastic newsboxes around the city, the magazine is bi-weekly and comes out on Wednesday. I don't like it as much as the Phoenix, but it lets you plan further in advance - not that anyone really plans two weeks ahead.

New last year, competing with the Improper, is STUFF@night, a free bi-weekly newsbox magazine spun off from the Phoenix but with none of the useful info in it. It's not your best bet.

The only other printed arts stuff comes from The Tab. Available from boxes in Boston and Cambridge, the news section will differ depending on the city you pick it up in, although the arts section is the same in both, and sometimes has dinkier arts events listed prominently. But it's strength is really in it's news.

Ask not what you can do for MIT

Sure, that ID in your wallet costs over $12,000 a term, but if you know how, it gives kickbacks as well.

The Council for the Arts does the most to get your money back, most significantly through a program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra that provides free tickets to MIT students for Tuesday evening (8 p.m.) and Friday afternoon (1:30 p.m.) concerts. If there are more than 100 tickets left after 10 a.m. on the day of the show (which you can find out by calling the student information line at 638-9478), you can get up to two tickets with two current valid MIT student IDs. The seats might be anywhere, but I've sat pretty close, and they didn't cost nothin'. The first show students can try to see for free is Oct. 2, and features Yo-Yo Ma playing Mozart's Linz Symphony and Dun's Symphony 1997 (Heaven Earth Mankind).

The Council has also arranged for free student admission to the Museum of Fine Arts with a valid ID. And for the upcoming Monet in the 20th Century exhibit (which opens Sunday and runs through Dec. 27), students can purchase discount tickets for only $5. The discount tickets are only good Monday to Friday, between noon and closing (9:45 p.m. on Wednesday, 4:45 p.m. other weekdays), but the regular price is $15 weekdays and $17.50 weekends, so it might be worth making time.

As if that wasn't enough, the Council sponsors even more programs. The current display in the List Visual Arts Center (on the first floor of the Media Lab) is of a collection of framed works that will soon be hanging all over campus, thanks to the Student Loan Art Program. Until Tuesday, students can peruse the gallery and try to win one of their top three choices for the year by entering the lottery. In addition to providing free or really cheap tickets to other events throughout the year, there are Council for the Arts grants available for student art programs, ranging from $250 (available any time) to $5,000 (available through three annual funding cycles, the first of which has an application deadline of Sept. 25). For more information, call 253-4005 or e-mail cohen@media.mit.edu.

Since this is a science school, it's only right that we get free admission to the Museum of Science. Thanks to an annual $5,000 donation by Tau Beta Pi, the National Engineering Honor Society, every member of the MIT Community has free access to the museum with their MITID. It's well worth a visit, especially to the math section.

The best kept secret of them all

So you've read the Phoenix and noticed a play you want to see, or a concert you want to see, or a movie you want to see, or a book you want to read, or a CD you want to buy, or a restaurant you want to eat at, or any other thing there is to do around here. But the Council for the Arts isn't paying this time, and neither is TBP, and preferably, neither are you. Where should you turn?

Look no further - The Tech can get you in. With a simple phone call or two, you can do pretty much any artistic thing in Boston and Cambridge for free. All you have to do is review whatever you attend. There's no requirement on how much you write, or how frequently. If you're interested, or know someone who might be, e-mail arts@the-tech.mit.edu.

Hope this helps get you off your couch.