Dear Friends,
   What to give friends on a major holiday is always a good question. I’ve decided to open the flood gates and share with you all the sources I’ve discovered over the years for reliable, timely and useful information about what’s going on in NYC culturally – – which is also free or has but a nominal charge.  
   Try it! you’ll like it! We rely on these sources continually – so these links are tested. Should you find something that doesn’t work, and can help me correct it – please let me know. 
   All the best for the New Year from us both – 
       Per & Rahim
 
  Two sites are indispensible to alerts as to art openings & events. The first is quantitative, http://www.artcards.cc for it lists openings & events for the next 7 days in Metro NYC
  The second is quantitative http://www.LarryQualls.blogspot.com. It appears each day (about 7:30am) and has only those events that someone with 40+ years of experience in NYC’s art world could select. Exquisite. Encyclopedic. (Suggestion: look up Larrry Qualls in Wikipedia)
  ArtCards relies more on press releases so it has somewhat fewer listings and a narrower choice of offerings. Larry Qualls’s blog is based on his many years of experience – and rolodex from hell – so it offers more hi-quality events where a press release never gets released – plus book signings, Embassy & Cultural Affairs events, lectures – all free or if there’s a charge at a nominal charge. 
 
     I have my own list of the days & times when NYC’s cultural institutions have free admission – that’s on my art blog, www.PerOnArt.wordpress.com – or text/email me and I’ll send it to you. But I recommend this list from NYC-Arts.org, PBS’s arts program’s website.  http://www.nyc-arts.org/collections/35/free-museum-days-or-pay-what-you-wish
     I’ve some listings not on this list – and vice versa. And I’ve found two errors in the PBS list – for things always are changing in the art world. But the this NYC-Arts.org list has the convenience of giving you the ability to click on your choice to get more information.
     Here’s their introduction: “New York is known as an expensive city, but it can be generous to New Yorkers and tourists. Many of the city’s premier attractions, museums, galleries and performances offer free entry or pay-what-you-wish options, be it for a select day of the month or evening hours every week. Those seeking a bargain can use the no-cost or low-cost admittance to take a chance on the unknown or to return to a favorite art work, exhibit or gallery again and again. Below is a just a selection; there are other free places, such as the galleries and museums of area colleges and universities.”
     See also http://www.nyc-arts.org/categories/museums for 134 listings of lesser known groups, galleries & for profits whose focus is art.
     Lastly, you can find events by going to the Eventbrite website. See https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ny–new-york/food-and-drink–events/. They also have an app. The problem here though is that Eventbrite has too many offerings – and by signing up you may get lots of junk email – so you may drown in their overkill.
 
     Now let’s move on to theatre  tickets. First, there are half price tickets available at the Tickets booth at Times Square. But that means going there to try your luck. 
     Instead, try the best of the 4-5 theatre clubs whose job it is to paper the hall, to fill empty halls with people. All the true (ie good) ones charge about $100 a year for two tickets, pay a processing fee of about $5. 
     But all have strict rules: come a half hour early to pick up your tickets, sit in your assigned seat, stay through at least the first act, and do not bad mouth the production within hearing distance of the theater. Violate the rules – and lose your membership.
      In order of reliability here they are: PlayByPlay.com (definitely #1 http://www.play-by-play.com/ $99+$16 processing fee); #2 is AudienceExtras. There is also TheaterExtras (focus on concerts, rock shows, sports) and TheaterMania’s GoldClub but I haven’t heard feedback about them – except that they’re not as good as the first two.
     Also see these sites: 
http://www.newyorkclassical.org/https://www.nycgovparks.org/events/free summer theater. And don’t forget NYC’s treasure in Chelsea, the High Line: www.thehighline.org/activitiesThe highland has entrances on 14, 16, 18, 20, 23, 26, 28,30
(the ones with elevators are bold-faced)  www.bsmny.org/‎. 
     Lastly, there is Club Free Time which has been reviewed in the NY Times. It simply lists free tickets of all kinds – and costs a nominal $18/year. It’s also a good way of keeping up on cultural events that you might otherwise miss. I’m including the review of the Times of this immigrant’s creative way of seeing NYC events free after the list below from NYC-Arts.org of the days & times that NYC’s museums and major cultural institutions are free. 
     One last tip: the cultural institutes of the cultural institutes of Europe’s  major embassies in NYC are excellent sources of events, art openings, lectures, and films. Simply sign up via their websites. I recommend Germany, Austria, Sweden, France, Ukraine, and Ireland – and I’m sure I’ve overlooked some. 
     And for further tips you can go to my art blog, www.PerOnArt.wordpress.com. I try not to repeat what’s available in the sites mentioned here – and focus on what impossible to find out about and the utterly delectable. For example, I covered the recent Armory Show, the upscale shows on the UES that never get publicized, and the art life in Provincetown, Boston, and New Orleans.
 
     Now, here in detail is the list on NYC-Arts.org (PBS’s arts program’s website).  http://www.nyc-arts.org/collections/35/free-museum-days-or-pay-what-you-wish

ALWAYS FREE (or pay what you wish):

American Folk Art Museum

American Museum of Natural History (pay what you wish)

Bronx Museum (pay what you wish)

Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcafé live events

Brooklyn Museum (pay what you wish)

The Cloisters (pay what you wish)

El Museo del Barrio (pay what you wish)

Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College

Green-Wood Cemetery

International Print Center

Metropolitan Museum of Art (pay what you wish)

Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

National Museum of the American Indian—Smithsonian Institution

New York City Police Museum (pay what you wish)

P.S.1 MoMA (pay what you wish)

Queens Botanical Garden (free Nov-March)

Queens Museum of Art (pay what you wish)

SculptureCenter (pay what you wish)

Socrates Sculpture Park

Staten Island Museum (pay what you wish)

Storefront for Art & Architecture

Studio Museum in Harlem (pay what you wish)

Waterfront Museum

MONTHLY FREE HOURS:

Bronx Museum (First Friday, 6-10 pm)

Brooklyn Children’s Museum (Second Weekend, before 11 am)

Brooklyn Museum (First Saturday, 5-11 pm)

El Museo del Barrio (Third Saturday, 11 am-8 pm)

Neue Gallerie (First Friday, 6-8 pm)

Noguchi Museum (First Friday, pay what you wish)

WEEKLY FREE DAYS or HOURS:

MONDAY

Museum at Eldridge Street

Yeshiva University Museum

TUESDAY

9/11 Memorial Museum 5-8 pm

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

China Institute 6-8 pm

Staten Island Museum 12-2 pm

Wave Hill 9 am-noon

WEDNESDAY

Bronx Zoo (pay what you wish)

Museum of Jewish Heritage 4-8 pm

New York Botanical Garden

Queens Botanical Garden April-October, 3-6 pm

Van Cortlandt House Museum

Yeshiva University Museum 5-8 pm

 
THURSDAY

China Institute 6-8 125 East 65th Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues)
Museum of Arts and Design 6-9 pm (pay what you wish)
Museum of Chinese in America 11am-9pm 215 Centre Street (between Howard and Grand Streets) 
New Museum 7-9 pm 235 Bowery (at Prince Street)

Trinity Church: Concerts at One 1-2 pm (September through May)

 
FRIDAY

International Center for Photography 5-8 pm (pay what you wish)

Japan Society 6-9 pm

Morgan Library & Museum 7-9 pm

New-York Historical Society 6-8 pm (pay what you wish)

New York Aquarium 3 pm-closing (pay what you wish)

New York Hall of Science 2-5 pm (September through June)

Rubin Museum of Art 7-10 pm

Staten Island Museum 12-2 pm

Whitney Museum of American Art 7-9:30 pm

Yeshiva University Museum

 
FIRST FRIDAY evening [correction]
Neue Galerie 6-8 pm
FIRST SATURDAY evening [correction]
https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/visit/first_saturdays free 5-10pm, gallery talks, film, music, dancing, food, popup shows [September = focus on the Latino immigrant experience]
SATURDAY

Brooklyn Botanic Garden 10 am-noon

Jewish Museum

New York Botanical Garden 10 am-noon

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 5:45-7:45 pm (pay what you wish)

Wave Hill 9 am-noon

 
SUNDAY

Frick Collection 11 am-1 pm (pay what you wish)

New York Hall of Science 10-11 am (September through June)

Queens Botanical Garden April-October, 4-6 pm

 
     And now the review of the NY Times about Club Free Time: NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/21/nyregion/an-immigrant-revels-in-land-of-the-free.html

An Immigrant Revels in Land Of the Free

By DAVID GONZALEZDEC. 21, 1996

FREE Verdi. Free Bergman. Free Christo. And, why not, Free Bird, too. Sound like the demands of an odd terrorist group with a soft spot for Lynyrd Skynyrd? Consider it the rallying cry of Natella Vaidman, a Russian immigrant who came to America in 1979 to savor freedom — with the emphasis on free.

Ms. Vaidman, a former physicist and systems analyst, publishes ”Free Time,” a monthly listing of cultural events around the city that are free, or almost. With a keen eye for those posters and fliers seen plastered on bulletin boards, bus stops and various museums and college buildings, she created a survival guide for people longing for culture but short on cash. She revels in a city that is abuzz with so much culture that they’re giving it away.

”What excites me is that the city just gives it to you,” she said. ”When you come to New York from somewhere else, you have such sharp eyes. You suck the city in. You inhale it, because it’s so exciting. A person who lives in New York sees a sign on a bus for the Philharmonic in the park and they don’t pay attention because they see it every day. But when you just come and see that, you think that there must be something else.”

And how. When she started publishing in 1987, her listings averaged about five a day. Now her 36-page magazine boasts an average of 30 daily events. They range from lectures on topics like the supernova Ejecta to lighter happenings like a screening of ”Some Like It Hot.” the idea for her magazine in 1985, while working at Time Inc. A co-worker who learned about his colleagues’ interests would put notices about free performances and lectures in their mailboxes. Ms. Vaidman went to one of those, a lunchtime screening of Borodin’s opera ”Prince Igor” at a library.

”O.K., I go to movie and work a little bit later,” she said. ”It blew my mind. I can see a first-rate movie in a good hall at lunch for free. Entirely free. I talked to my friends and they knew nothing about it.”

WHAT a country. She began to collect listings, eventually creating a computerized database and a schedule of places to contact. She prints 5,000 copies, sold by mail and on newsstands for $1.25 an issue. Events are free; paper and ink are not.

”A lot of things in America start from personal experience and desire,” she said. ”When people realize that something is not there, they create it.”

One of her favorite finds is the Nikolas Roerich Museum, which has Sunday concerts in its Upper West Side town house. Her quirkiest choice is a Shakespeare troupe that performs in modern dress in Washington Square Park.

”It’s traditional street theater,” she said. ”Not that many people there. You got to schlep from corner to corner. Sometimes not good quality, but interesting.”

Bob Levis, a film maker, praised the magazine for ferreting out cultural gems in the midst of the hectic city, sometimes even in his own neighborhood. There’s a certain democracy that he enjoys.

”Cultural events, you want people to see them,” he said. ”Not to charge the Broadway prices of $70 or $80. That takes a lot of the thrill out of it. You want people to be doing them for the love of them.”

OR for the love of tax breaks and name recognition. Ms. Vaidman is amazed at how much philanthropy and corporate sponsorship have helped fuel the free scene. And the arrival of large bookstores with readings and signings have been responsible for such a boom in listings that Ms. Vaidman joked she could publish an edition just about them.

She contrasts that abundance with Europe: on a recent visit to Prague, she could not find one free concert. In Paris, pretty much the same. Forget Moscow.

”In Soviet times the government paid for everything,” she said. ”Now there is nothing free going on because they became capitalists. They are aware of the power and allure of money. Philanthropy is far from their mind.”

Even in other American cities, she said, there is little to rival what she has found here. Miami? Pavarotti gave a free concert. Once.

And Philadelphia, where she first lived after Moscow? ”To me, a city is so bustling with energy, it’s ready to explode,” she said. ”When I went to Philadelphia, I saw buildings, but I didn’t feel the city.”

New York, in comparison, can keep you busy with free culture if you can find a way to fit it into your schedule. She found out.

”I don’t have time,” she said. ”That’s what happened: slowly but surely I stopped going.”

     Here’s a direct link to this lady’s website: