May 18, 2010

Greetings from Oracle! 

Less than a year ago, Oracle announced a new vision for its business: to revitalize the hunger for cultural experiences in our community. We began expanding our programming beyond theatre arts, and we started strategizing a better model for our non-profit business. With our roots firmly planted in live performance, Oracle Productions redefines itself as a Public Arts Organization committed to making cultural experiences available to everyone.

Our first initiative in this new model is called Public Access Theatre™. Beginning with our 2010-11 Season, we will no longer have set admission prices. We will open our doors for everyone!

Consider WTTW, Chicago Public Radio, or even your church: the board, the staff, and the artists come together with an idea for a program, they work to find funding for it, and they present it to the community free of charge. Oracle is retrofitting this model into an array of hands-on cultural and educational offerings, the first of which is theatre without tickets.

Most theatre companies in Chicago are non-profit corporations, allowing us to accept donations and seek grants and corporate charity – all of which are primary income sources for Chicago theatres. Interestingly, we also charge commercial prices for our seats. These serve the interest of the companies, but as non-profits we have a duty to give back as much as we ask from the community.

What can theatre companies in Chicago do to honor their public charity status, to bring in new faces and give them the opportunity to participate?

When Oracle hosts pay-what-you-can events, we experience massive participation. 100% open access makes people feel invited and welcomed, not sold. In those instances, Oracle fits all budgets, not just a few. The barriers encountered through standard operating procedures of Chicago theaters actually hinder greater participation at live performances, performances that the government sees as public charity anyway. This is the status quo in Chicago theatre, and Oracle is challenging it.

We are driven by a new vision to deliver cultural experiences regardless of economic status. Public Access Theatre™ makes the decision to participate in a theatrical event much easier.

But that’s only the beginning of our Public Arts Organization programming. We will continue our Outreach Program, bringing theatre to nursing homes and homeless shelters, and build on it by offering directors and educators to start drama clubs in these homes. Oracle will host film festivals for college students, film classes for kids, Butoh dance workshops, Yoga classes, subsidized residency opportunities for young artists and young theatre companies, and a wide array of late night performance offerings. All of these programs will be lucrative for the artists and educators involved, and offered to the public at little or no cost.

Oracle’s business model is completely changing because Chicago is the center for cultural excellence in America. We will help this community culturally evolve by growing the hunger for cultural experiences, and by making those experiences affordable and easy to access.

Our public relations efforts will quadruple across several cultural industries, our fundraising efforts will be bolstered, our grant applications will become more aggressive, and we will generate a lot of support from the community to bring this vision to life.

With your support, our Public Arts Organization will change the way Chicagoans experience art. Beginning with Public Access Theatre™, Oracle will take a huge leap forward to show just how much change a non-profit can make!

Brad Jayhan-Little, Executive Director and Ben Fuchsen, Executive Producer