Arts for Everyone 

ArtsMemphis helps low-income residents access the arts.

Memphians who qualify for EBT cards also qualify for another wallet-sized card that comes with big benefits: the Arts Access card.

The small card issued by Arts Memphis allows low-income residents to reserve up to four free tickets for certain plays and exhibitions at local museums.

The annual Arts Access initiative has been around since 1990, but ArtsMemphis added the Arts Access card this year.

To qualify, residents have to be Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cardholders, TennCare or Church Health Center patients, or Tickets for Troops members.

"This is a really great program to introduce people to what's happening and to encourage them to participate in an experience of the arts in Memphis," said Julia McDonald, director of development and communications at ArtsMemphis.

The card makes reserving free tickets easier for Arts Access members. In years past, program participants had to prove their eligibility every time they requested tickets to events.

Arts Access cards are available at five sites: ArtsMemphis, Playhouse on the Square, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Hattiloo Theatre, and the Church Health Center.

Along with the card, recipients get an Arts Access brochure that lists nearly 150 participating performances and exhibitions throughout the year.

More than 30 organizations are providing tickets, including the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, New Ballet Ensemble, the Blues Foundation, and the Orpheum Theatre.

Rhonda Brown, director of ticketing and sales at Playhouse on the Square, said the program is a great benefit to Memphis because it exposes individuals to forms of art other than movies.

"They can actually see a live theater performance with professional actors," Brown said.

Serron Muhammad, administrative assistant for Hattiloo Theatre, agrees. She said the program provides access to culture that some Memphians normally wouldn't encounter.

"It gives you a different outlook. You get to see things that you normally wouldn't see in our society and our communities," Muhammad said.

Last year, 2,500 people took advantage of the program, but McDonald said the organization hopes to increase that number.

"Art is such a wonderful part of who we are and what our city is," McDonald said. "It shouldn't be, 'Oh, it's only for some people.' It's nice to open up access for these groups to see performances and the different things happening because the arts are for everyone."

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