Harris Theater’s Mission

The Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater for Music and Dance is a 1500-seat state-of-the art performance venue located in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Opened in November 2003, the nonprofit Harris Theater was the first multi-use performance venue built in downtown Chicago since 1929.

Harris Theater serves as a unique national model of collaboration between the philanthropic community and performing arts organizations in music and dance. More than a decade later, the theater features the most diverse offerings of any venue in Chicago, hosting local, national, and internationally renowned artists and ensembles.

The Harris Theater’s primary mission is to partner with an array of Chicago’s music and dance performing arts organizations to help them build the resources and infrastructure necessary to achieve artistic growth and long-term organizational sustainability. The Harris Theater’s original group of 12 resident companies has grown to include 35 diverse and exceptionally talented performing arts organizations, including internationally acclaimed Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNow, and collaborations with Lyric Opera of Chicago, National Museum of Mexican Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Columbia College Chicago. Through these partnerships, the Theater has earned national recognition as a distinctive model for collaboration, performance, and artistic advancement.

The Theater supports this mission by providing these partner organizations with subsidized rental, technical expertise, and marketing support, allowing the organizations to focus on what they do best—bringing the finest in music and dance performances to the public. The Theater offers professional development opportunities, including the innovative Learning Lab, endorsed with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  

The Harris Theater is also dedicated to presenting internationally acclaimed music and dance organizations to enhance its reputation as well as to help build audiences for the Theater’s resident companies. Through the Harris Theater Presents series, the Theater has achieved widespread recognition as a vital cultural anchor in Chicago. Daniel Barenboim, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Renee Fleming, the Hamburg Ballet, Lang Lang, the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opéra Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, Stephen Sondheim, and many others have graced the Harris’ Elizabeth Morse Genius Stage through this series.  

Through its commitment to artistic excellence, collaboration, and inclusion, the Harris Theater’s community engagement and education programs seek to deepen understanding of the arts and our world. We inspire people of all ages and communities, and nurture the next generation of artists and audiences. Since 2009, the Theater has provided over 10,000 fully underwritten tickets to children and families, representing 25 neighborhoods across the city of Chicago. 

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