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Holiday cheer

ArtsBoston promotes accessible, diverse arts with discount ticket program

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Holiday cheer
Tickets for “Tafuta! A Young Child's Search for the True Meaning of Kwanzaa,” a performance by OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center, are on sale from ArtsBoston for 50 percent off the original price. Photo: Best Image Photography

For 15 years, ArtsBoston has partnered with the Mayor’s Office to provide the Mayor’s Holiday Special, a series of discounts on theater tickets and dining during December and January. As the tradition continues, the goal becomes not only to provide accessibility to the arts, but also to highlight all the multicultural talent Boston has to offer. This year, Catherine Peterson, executive director of ArtsBoston, says it’s their most diverse lineup yet.

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“It’s a great season to be sharing time with your family and what better way to do that than with a holiday performance?” says Peterson. For the first time, ArtsBoston is also collaborating with the Cambridge Mayor’s Office, though productions across the bridge have been among the discounted shows in the past. Tickets are available on the ArtsBoston website at up to 50 percent off for over 130 performances and dining experiences. This week the program will sell its 250,000th ticket and the purchaser will receive a special, celebratory surprise.

Peterson says the program brings community members out to see shows they might not otherwise have considered. “I would say around 50 percent of the people that go are seeing that particular show for the first time,” she says. Peterson herself is taking her 93-year-old mother to see “Christmas Revels” at Harvard’s Sanders Theater.

“Tafuta! A Young Child’s Search for the True Meaning of Kwanzaa,” a performance by OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center at Roxbury Community College on Dec. 15, is one of the offerings highlighting diverse artists. Shaumba Dibinga, founding artistic director of OrigiNation, wrote the production to educate the public about Kwanzaa. “The reason I wrote it is because in the city of Boston there aren’t any productions that celebrate Kwanzaa,” says Dibinga. “A lot of people think it’s a replacement for Christmas and it’s not. It’s also not just a story for African Americans. It’s for everyone.”

“Tatufa!” follows a young girl who is being teased at school for celebrating Kwanzaa. As she begins to explore the celebration and meet other people participating in it, she learns the true meaning of the holiday. Local OrigiNation dance students make up the cast of the show, further cementing it in the Boston community. Dibinga says there are about four adult performers and the rest are children, some as young as 6 or 7. “Some of them have never, ever been in a production before,” says Dibinga. “It’s the best feeling to watch them perform for a full house.” Tickets for “Tafuta!” are on sale at ArtsBoston for $10 each, 50 percent off the original price.

Peterson says she plans to continue including a diverse group of productions in the Mayor’s Holiday Special as the program grows. “The arts belong to everyone,” she says. “It’s important to see yourself represented on stage.”

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