Experience is the ultimate gift to give at Christmas, with a myriad of wonderful options available across the arts.
Detail of Cover, Pantomime F. Warne & Co., 1890 color lithograph, 1890. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Can you believe it? It’s already that time of year again. In between planning Christmas lunch and the school holiday road trip, you’re reminded of more people that you haven’t yet got around to buying a Christmas present for. Perhaps a relative has announced they’re coming to town, or you forgot to add that colleague to your list. Whoever it may be, you can be sure they have enough ‘stuff’ – we all do. Stuck for ideas? Never fear, the arts are always here!
For a while now the tide has been turning for the giving of experiences rather than items as gifts. Whether it was spurred on by the global financial crisis, the realisation of the colossal waste generated by the holiday season, or the trend towards pared-down, minimal living, experiences have been gaining traction as the preferred way to spoil your loved ones at holiday time. And with so many great reasons to look to the arts for gift experiences across the country in the lead up to this Christmas, why would you consider anything else?
Your brother who is always at a loss of how to entertain the kids during the school holidays? A Museum Victoria membership will allow him and his family unlimited access to three different and exciting museums (and a discount at the neighbouring IMAX to boot). Sydney parents and children alike will love Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks at the Museum of Sydney.
Date night with the partner looking a bit stale? Get each other a subscription to the theatre (there are great options at Sydney’s Ensemble Theatre, Perth’s Black Swan State Theatre Company, the Melbourne Theatre Company, and the touring Bell Shakespeare) and you’ve got a year of dates organised. Linger in the theatre bar or restaurant afterwards and mull over the performance together.
That great friend who you never seem to be able to make time to catch up with during the year would love to check out some live music with you. There are so many fabulous options with great packages available – look to Musica Viva and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for a range of exciting programming throughout 2015. After the performance seek out a chic restaurant nearby and let the chinwag begin!
Finding your mother-in-law difficult to impress? Present her with a year of ballet performances she’s sure to love (for those on the west coast you can’t go past the West Australian Ballet), and you won’t have to fear asking for seconds at the Christmas lunch table.
For your arts-savvy colleagues, consider a subscription to ArtsHub. They’ll appreciate year-round access to premium news, features, reviews, opinion, and exclusive offers for members – it’s a great way to stay across all that’s happening in the sector (if we do say so ourselves)!
Another advantage of memberships and subscriptions to the arts is that they come with a range of benefits that single-ticket holders don’t receive. Discounted or free programs, offers at the theatre bar, restaurant, cafe or museum shop help to make the experience a well-rounded one. E-newsletters, magazines and calendars keep you up to date with what’s happening at the venue. Invitations to special previews, talks and behind the scenes action allow you to learn more about the craft in question and meet fellow members, building a sense of belonging with the organisation and providing networking opportunities. Free ticket exchanges are a great bonus as even the most well planned year is not immune to unexpected events popping up.
These gifts will keep your family and friends reminded of your generosity and present-buying nous all year round. But the best part is, you won’t even have to think about approaching a tinsel-filled shopping centre to buy them. You can do it all from your desk with total convenience, with most arts companies having easy online and telephone purchasing options set up for their 2015 memberships and subscriptions.
And if you just can’t go past the idea of a gift-wrapped object at Christmas, then look no further than the many art galleries in your area. A unique work of art is just that – one of a kind, and is a great way to introduce friends to the thrill of building an art collection while supporting visual artists. There are works available to suit all budgets, from student work at the graduate shows, to emerging artists at artist-run initiatives, to hot local talent at commercial galleries. Don’t be afraid to pop in and ask what’s in the stockroom – most galleries are open up until late December.
Clearly, it’s hard to go past the arts for fabulous and varied gift ideas this Christmas. So what are you waiting for? Check out ArtsHub’s 2015 Christmas Gift Guide and get shopping!
First published on