Qaleidoscope makes art events accessible through pay-what-you-can model

By: Keeley Braunstein-Black

Queer City Cinema tour, Qaleidoscope, introduced the pay-what-you-can (PWYC) model with a free workshop and two film screenings from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4.

The pay-what-you-can business model allows customers to choose the amount they pay for a screening. Some ways to pay include the sliding scale, which allows customers to select within a price range. They can also donate based on a suggested amount. 

“I think it is becoming a paradigm shift in terms of how art is accessed,” said Garry Verro, director of Queer City Cinema. “It’s informed by the culture that I work, in terms queer and QTBIPOC.”

Verros noticed some people don’t want to guess how much they should pay, he said.

“On this tour, some people don’t like it when you say pay what you want or can. They want you to tell them,” said Verro. “In those instances, I just say ten bucks.”

Garry Verro setting up for a weekend of Qaleidoscope on Feb. 2, 2023. Qaleidoscope introduced the pay-what-you-can model at their workshop and film screenings from Feb. 2-4. (Keeley Braunstein-Black)

RRC Polytech Business Administration student Juan Jimenez said he would prefer a firm price or the PWYC model with no amount suggested when attending events.

“I would feel bad if I was paying less than that,” said Jimenez.

Brodi Lockhart, another Business Administration student, said the PWYC model of pricing means they can attend events they are interested in. 

“I don’t have a lot of spending money, so when people are talking about going out, my mind jumps to, ‘what is this going to cost me,’” said Lockhart. “If I am already interested in what is happening, I would be more inclined to go. Then, I would work out what I could contribute.”

Lockhart said that some people might take advantage of the PWYC pricing even if they can afford it. Lockhart hopes artists will still make enough to continue their work, they said.

“It’s interesting to see what people will do,” said Verro. “Some people will pay $20, and some people will pay $1.”

Octavia MacIsaac, also a Business Administration student, said the PWYC model gives people the flexibility to experience different things, like an art exhibit. 

MacIsaac said people like her father could afford to pay over the suggested sliding scale amount, unlike some students.

“It involves having a lot of trust, but people will do what they can,” said MacIsaac.