Harris Theater’s Mission

The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance is Chicago’s primary residence for music and dance, connecting diverse audiences with outstanding artists from across the city, the nation, and the world. 

Opened in November 2003 in Millennium Park, the Theater was the first multi-use performance venue built in downtown Chicago since 1929, and fulfilled the city’s need for a shared home for mid-size performing arts organizations. Today, the Harris features the most diverse arts and culture offerings of any venue in the city, and is a distinctive model for artistic quality, collaboration, and making the performing arts relevant and accessible to the widest possible audience. 

The Theater’s presenting series brings the highest caliber artists from every corner of the world to Chicago audiences. As a vital cultural anchor in the Midwest, the Harris is committed to showcasing artists who tell stories of human experiences from a multitude of perspectives. Spanning five curated series, Harris Theater Presents performances have represented over 30 countries across six continents, from emerging voices to world-renowned artists including Laurie Anderson, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Joshua Bell, Batsheva Dance Company, English National Ballet, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Angélique Kidjo, Paris Opera Ballet, and Silk Road Ensemble. 

Founded on the principle of serving Chicago’s vibrant community of performing arts organizations, the Theater provides subsidized rental, production, marketing, and professional development support for its Resident Companies. Since opening with 12 founding companies 16 years ago, the Theater has since served as a home for over 55 local arts and humanities organizations such as Giordano Dance Chicago, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Opera Theater, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, and WBEZ Chicago, among many others. The Theater has become a sought-after venue for important civic and cultural events as well as touring music and dance companies. Organizations hosting their engagements at the Harris bring unique opportunities for collaboration between Chicagoans and the world’s leading thinkers, innovators, and artists.  

A city with a strong foundation of arts and culture nurtures future generations of artists and audiences. The Harris breaks down barriers to experiencing the arts by building an inclusive environment, and featuring accessible and captivating performances for all ages in the Mix at Six and Family Series. By cultivating relationships with the world’s leading artists and partnerships with local organizations across the healthcare, human services, and education sectors, the Harris facilitates master classes for aspiring artists, enrichment activities for all ages, and youth performance opportunities in tandem with Harris Theater Presents. Through these community partners, the Theater’s Access Tickets program has provided over 16,000 free performance tickets, ensuring that the arts reach as many individuals and families as possible.