Celebrating One Year of Teen Arts Pass

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Celebrating one year of Teen Arts Pass, Urban Gateways plans for the program’s next chapter

CHICAGO, IL (May 30, 2019) Teen Arts Pass (TAP) launched in May 2018 to expand arts participation and equity for Chicago youth. With over 6,000 members and 26 arts partners to date, the program has made leaps and bounds since its inception and has built excitement for teen arts engagement among program stakeholders and TAP members alike.

On May 23, Urban Gateways hosted a presentation and panel for TAP partners, funders, and supporters at the Harold Washington Library Center; after Urban Gateways President & CEO Eric Delli Bovi provided an overview of the program’s one-year progress, TAP Teen Council members sat down with Tracie D. Hall of the Joyce Foundation for a panel discussion about TAP and how the city’s arts and culture sector can effectively engage young audiences.

“All this energy in this room is just planting seeds for the future. The energy the arts can create is infinite.” -Malcolm, TAP Teen Council Member

“If you’re putting the opportunity out there, teens will reach for it.” -Rachel, TAP Teen Council Member

TAP members also celebrated the program’s first birthday with a Teen Night at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 17 – featuring a Q&A with the Lyric’s wig designer, the opportunity to try on Lyric costumes from past productions, and $5 tickets to “West Side Story.”

TAP’s next major teen engagement strategy is a mobile app, currently in development for both iOS and Android platforms. Urban Gateways expects to launch the app in fall 2019.

Teen Arts Pass (TAP)  enables anyone age 13-19 to purchase day-of-show tickets at any of our 26 arts partners (full list below) for only $5. TAP creates opportunities for young people to participate in arts experiences across the city, encouraging teens to pursue their artistic interests and broaden their worldviews by welcoming them into Chicago’s arts and culture institutions.

TAP registration is free for any teen regardless of residence or student-status; they can sign up at teenartspass.org in a matter of minutes. Upon registering they receive a temporary digital card and later a mailed physical card; information for all eligible events is available on the website calendar and soon on the TAP app. Companion Tickets are also available for select shows, allowing any TAP member to purchase an additional $5 ticket for a friend, parent/guardian, sibling, etc.

TAP already has over 6,000 members; 64% of them are from Chicago, with 98% from Illinois and a total of 26 states (plus Canada) represented. About 1,700 tickets have been purchased through the program to date (for only $5 each), and more than 40 additional arts organizations have expressed interest in becoming a TAP arts partner. See more one-year program stats here.

TAP aims to make Chicago arts and culture accessible to teens from every part of the city and beyond. Commissioner Mark Kelly of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said of the program, “[There is] so much culture around us, but there’s a sense that ‘it’s not for me,’ ‘it’s not affordable,’ that ‘I’m not going to feel comfortable,’ that ‘I’m not going to be welcome.’ And now with TAP…Urban Gateways has opened doors, avenues, and perceptions that otherwise wouldn’t be available to teens.”

“Teen Arts Pass is a formal invitation for all young people to engage in the civic and artistic discourse of our city,” said Urban Gateways President & CEO Eric Delli Bovi. “This far-reaching initiative will influence the future vitality of Chicago’s arts and culture sector.”

Urban Gateways’ hope is to see more and more teens utilizing this exciting initiative and experiencing partner performances for many years to come.

“We are thrilled to participate in the Teen Arts Pass program,” said Kiana DiStasi, Goodman Theatre’s Audience Development Manager. “Inclusion is the fabric of our institution, and we are grateful to work with Urban Gateways to remove barriers that might prevent Chicago’s youth from participating in all the great arts and culture that this city has to offer.”

The 26 arts partners include: Auditorium Theatre, Barrel of Monkeys, Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Philharmonic, Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Court Theatre, Dance Center of Columbia College, eta Creative Arts, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, Goodman Theatre, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, The Joffrey Ballet, Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts, Lookingglass Theatre, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Stage), North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, Northlight Theatre, Old Town School of Folk Music, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Steep Theatre, UChicago Presents, Victory Gardens Theater, and Writers Theatre.

For more information contact Abby Prescott, Urban Gateways Chief Communications Officer, at 312.445.2755 or aprescott@urbangateways.org.

Urban Gateways engages young people in arts experiences to inspire creativity and impact social change. TAP is a program of Urban Gateways; with the Teen Arts Pass, teens can experience live arts performances all around Chicago for only $5. Sign up or learn more at teenartspass.org. Teen Arts Pass visuals including promo video and photos can be found here.


Pictured: TAP Teen Council members and friends at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, January 2019. Photo by Sehar Sufi.