September 30, 2013

Fourth-year College student Eric Shoemaker is among the thousands of UChicago students who have taken advantage of free and discounted cultural offerings through the University’s Arts Pass program.

“I’ve only missed two shows at Court Theatre, and I’ve never paid for one, so that tells you how great Arts Pass is,” Shoemaker said.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the program since its introduction in 2010 has spurred an expansion this year in its arts partnerships and programming. In addition to the 34 exclusive partnerships that the program already boasts with arts and cultural institutions on and off campus, up to 10 more partners are expected to join this year.

The program offers students free and discounted tickets and memberships to arts organizations across the city, as well as specially curated events and face-to-face meetings with acclaimed artists and performers.  All of it is available to students simply by producing a University of Chicago ID.

“Arts Pass aims to get students off campus and into the city so they understand the breadth of what’s happening in the arts in Chicago before they graduate,” said Leigh Fagin, Assistant Director of Collaborative Programming for the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

“We are delighted by the success of the Arts Pass program,” said John Boyer, dean of the College. “It shows that our students are eager to take full advantage of the cultural riches in this great city of ours.”

So far, the program is helping students do just that. Many students flock to campus venues such as the Smart Museum of Art, the Oriental Institute, the Renaissance Society, and Court Theatre. One of the biggest draws remains free admission to arts organizations in the greater Chicago area, like the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.

“The Art Institute is my favorite museum in Chicago,” said third-year Economics and Public Policy double major Anastasia Golovashkina. “I love being able to go and not worry about paying for it because it’d be really expensive.”

Angela Zhang, a second-year in the College, explained, “Getting Arts Pass means you can see all the new exhibits, and you don’t feel pressured to see everything in one day. I’ve gone three times in a row before.” Zhang added, “I’m hoping to use Arts Pass to explore the MCA.”

In fact, in the 2012–2013 academic year, the Art Institute reported 10,105 visits from University of Chicago students, a number that does not include the 400 students, faculty and staff who attended the University of Chicago Nights at the Art Institute—a special Arts Pass event that extends free admission to UChicago faculty and staff. This year, Arts Pass plans to build on this successful partnership by once again hosting the UChicago Nights at the Art Institute.

The program’s growth, however, is not limited to building more partnerships and hosting more events. Arts Pass also is strengthening its engagement by launching a Facebook Group featuring student reviews and contests, weekly posts highlighting recommended arts and culture events in the city, and opportunities for students to share their Arts Pass experiences.

Fagin also hopes that the growth of Arts Pass will make it easier for faculty to send their students to performances and exhibitions as part of their scholarly endeavors, at very little cost to the students.

Arts Pass will kick off this fall with a uniquely curated visit to The Lyric Opera for Madama Butterfly, as well as the beginning of the Arts Pass Progressive series, which will be held at the Smart Museum, Logan Center, Oriental Institute, and Arts Incubator during Reading Period. For more information about Arts Pass, visit and the new Facebook page.

Arts Pass operates with underwriting from the College, the Logan Center, and philanthropic support—including the newly established Robert M. Rudolph Arts Endowment.