Guided by our values of Ensemble, Genuine Connection, Challenge, and Community in our mission toward equity, anti-racism, and inclusion, Strawdog has made the shift to a Free Theater Model.


This enables us to serve our current patrons while expanding our audience to include patrons of lower-income and increase our accessibility in the Chicago theater community. 


The Free Theater Model is just as it sounds: we offer free admission to our plays. 

As of 2021, Strawdog is no longer charging for tickets to its shows.


Instead, patrons are invited to make a reservation to see our plays, at no cost. 


What isn’t changing is our commitment to deliver the high-quality, provocative, experimental productions you know, love, and have come to expect from Strawdog. 


In our mission statement, we discuss embracing risk because we believe it inspires growth and creativity, and this Free Theater Model is an extension and a manifestation of that core belief.

Our audience members vary in age and income, but we attract a large number of patrons from the Chicago theater community itself.


Oftentimes theater makers have low incomes but still want to experience and stay up to date on the art made by their peers and in their neighborhoods. 


Strawdog aims to be transparent and approachable to our community,

and a Free Theater Model eliminates that invisible yet strong barrier of approachability because our theater is now accessible

to people of all income levels.


We see this as a way to create genuine connections to our patrons and our community.   

This is an exciting new era for Strawdog as we continue to redefine what storefront theater and ensemble work means, and we will continue to push ourselves to reflect, solve problems and do better.


As one of the oldest, most well-respected storefront theaters of Chicago, we see this not only as an opportunity but also a duty to our community that has sustained us for so long.  

Because we didn’t get a special Jeff Award for 30 years of

provocative ensemble work for nothing. 


We are incredibly grateful for our grant foundations: The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency and The Saints. The funds provided by these groups help to cover the cost of our general operations and artistic programming. However grants cannot cover all of our expenses.


That is why we encourage our patrons to consider making recurring contributions to Strawdog. Any donation, no matter the size or frequency, greatly impacts our company; but recurring donors offer us stability. Being able to count on monthly contributions, of any amount, allows us to better plan ahead and continue offering free admission to our shows.


We “sold out” our first production of Season 34, by the second weekend of performances with this new model. This tells us that financial barriers exist between our art and our audiences.


We will continue to fine tune this Free Theater Model to allow it to work better for us and our community.