How to Attend Arts Events

How to Attend a Performing Arts Event
Here are some tips for being a good audience member
  • Come to the theatre, concert or recital hall with an open mind, ready to be challenged and tolerant of diversity.  Make every effort to be engaged by what you see and hear.
  • If you are sensitive to strong language or certain themes, inquire about these things at the box office before you purchase your ticket.   Be responsible for doing your homework about the performance.  If it is a play, read a synopsis or the play itself prior to going.
  • BE ON TIME.  There may be a line at the box office so plan to arrive early.  A good rule is to arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the published “curtain” (start) time.  Arrive in time to read the program before the show begins.  It may contain valuable information about what is to be performed, information about the performers and creators and will warn you of smoke, gunfire, and strobe effects. Go to the bathroom before the show/recital/concert starts so you do not have to disrupt those around you to leave in the middle of the performance.
  • DO NOT USE YOUR CELL PHONE. Completely turn off the phone.  Better still, leave it in the car. Do not Text Message.  Do not check the time or your messages (the light on your phone disturbs others).  Do not text-message even between pieces (short breaks).  If you turn it on at intermission, DON’T FORGET TO TURN IT OFF BEFORE THE SECOND ACT STARTS.
  • Do not eat food or drink.  If you have a cough, unwrap your candy or cough drops before the show/concert begins.  (Crinkling cellophane is like nails on a chalkboard to some)  Do not crack gum.
  • Dress appropriately.  Dress comfortably and casually but don’t wear your pajamas.  Do not wear hats in the theatre/concert hall.  They block the view of those behind you. Do not take off your shoes.
  • Make sure you sit in a seat.  Do not sit in the aisles, on the stage or on the floor unless the ushers tell you to do so. Do not put your feet on the back of the seat in front of you, even if it’s empty.  Sit upright and do not lounge across multiple seats. Do not sleep (or snore) during the performance.  If you need to take notes during the performance, do so discretely and don’t turn on your cell phone or flash light to see. In other words, be considerate of those around you and don’t distract your fellow patrons.
  • Do not take photos or video or audio recordings, even cell phone shots.  Taking pictures violates our legal agreement with the folks who created the work.  Photography and other distractions also threaten the safety of and distract the performers on stage.
  • Do not talk during the performance or “comment” out loud on what is occurring on stage. Do not “woot” or cheer during the performance of a theatre, dance or classical concert. You can express your exuberance at the end of the show or concert during curtain call or bows and the performers will appreciate your vocal applause then. In opera, it is customary to shout “bravo” (for male soloists), “brava” (for females), “bravi” (for a group) or “bravissimo” (for an exceptional performance).
  • Please applaud at the end of the act or concert and when the performers bow.   Do not applaud between movements of symphonies or orchestral pieces. Each performance form has it’s own audience “etiquette.”  Audience applause for opera is different than the audience etiquette at a symphony or jazz concert or rock concert. For example, you may applaud at the end of an aria at an opera or at the end of a solo in a jazz concert. In fact, jazz soloists expect applause at the end of their solos. Take your cues from the performers and other audience members, especially faculty in the audience.  Exuberant applause at a rock concert will earn the audience an encore.
  • If you need to take notes for a class assignment, do so discretely and on paper.  Do not type on electronic devices or light up those devices in order to take notes.  Better still, use intermission time to jot down your observations and insights.
  • Do not leave at intermission or before curtain call; it is rude and disrespectful of the performers. Stay until the end of the performance.   You may miss something exciting if you leave early!
  • Do not get up onstage before, during, or after the show unless instructed to do so.   Don’t take things from stage during intermission or after the performance.
  • Feel free to stay after and ask questions of the staff, performers, and crew.  They will be more than happy to answer.
  • Take trash (ticket stubs, programs, receipts) with you. If you do not need your program, please recycle with the House Manager.
  • Talk about the performance with your friends.  What did you like about it?  What didn’t you like about it?  What did you find interesting?  Did you have an emotional reaction? Was it performed well?  Would you go to a performance of this type again
How to Attend a Gallery or Exhibition


  • Do your homework and read the information provided by the gallery or museum.  It will tell you about the creator, materials and techniques used to create the work, and other valuable information.  Do stand back from the plaque you are reading so that others may read it as well.
  • Talk about what you see, hear, feel and otherwise experience with your friends at a reasonable volume.  Do observe the nature of the space and pattern your behavior accordingly.  For example, if most patrons are observing in silence, be respectful and adjust the volume of your discussion.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the guides.
  • Take your time to explore different points of view of three-dimensional objects but don’t go into spaces that are clearly off-limits to visitors.
  • Take your time to observe the way the exhibition is arranged and the implied traffic patterns.  Be respectful of others who share the space with you.  If you decide to use the “audio tour,” stay mindful of others around you.


  • DO NOT USE YOUR CELL PHONE. Completely turn off the phone. An exception to this tip is if the work is interactive and invites you to participate using your phone or other electronic device.
  • Do not eat food or drink.  Do not smoke.
  • Be polite to the security personnel and docents (guides).
  • Do not touch the artwork/exhibits unless invited to do so as an interactive participant. Don’t be that person who broke a finger off a 14th century statue by trying to “high-five” it.
  • Know the gallery/museum rules regarding photography.  Never take flash pictures.  You will harm the art work.
  • Be careful of your surroundings.  Art may be above you, behind you, below you.  Don’t be the one to step on another’s work.