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Get (or give) free tickets to theater performances via a new nonprofit

Written by
Kris Vire

Three Chicago theater producers who worked with the now-defunct Oracle Theatre are re-teaming to take Oracle’s “Public Access Theatre” ticketing model on the road.

Chicago Arts Access (CAa), founded by Oracle’s former associate artistic director Tony Santiago, managing director Lauren Yarbrough and board member Dave Toropov, will partner with theater companies to make certain performances available for free admission. Like Oracle, which made all its performances free by way of subsidies provided by a community of sponsors making small monthly donations, CAa will rely on donors it calls “Sustainers.”

“Folks who become a sustainer, their donations subsidize the free tickets for others,” Santiago said in a phone interview Wednesday. On CAa’s newly launched website,, supporters can sign up for a recurring donation of $5 to $100 or more. Sustainers’ donations are tax-deductible and also earn them tickets to CAa performances, to be used by themselves or others, Santiago said. In addition to underwriting free performances, funds donated by Sustainers will be put toward additional accessibility services, such as ASL interpretation or touch tours.

CAa will launch with two partners in November, with a free performance of Jackalope Theatre Company’s 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting for John Anderson) on November 2, followed by the Neo-Futurists’ The Infinite Wrench on November 17. Reservations will open at for the Jackalope show on Wednesday, October 25. Santiago says CAa expects to be underwriting performances at four theaters a month by February.

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