Auditorium Theatre offers walking tours as Chicago’s shuttered Theatre District remains dark for over a year

Chicago Scene
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Chicago’s Theatre District remains shuttered as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

According to Chicago’s Loop Alliance, there’s approximately 35,000 seats that remain empty, leading to an estimated $90 million in spending loss by visitors.  It’s a butterfly effect with another $233 million lost on operating costs. And nearly 6,000 performing arts jobs remain vacant.

Even as Chicago’s baseball stadiums are allowed to fill up their venues to 22 percent capacity, theaters remain closed.  

“More people go to arts and culture than go to all of our sports teams combined on an annual basis,“ Chicago Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards said.  Edwards said the alliance has reached out to Governor Pritzker in hopes of strategizing a plan for Phase 5 to get people in the industry back to work.

As the struggle remains a hard reality for all of Chicago’s arts and culture venues, there are still ways you can help.

Walking tours are now available. It’s one of the few ways people can support the venues when the stages remain dark. 

One of the venues is the Auditorium Theatre. Rich Regan is the theater’s Chief Executive Officer and offered a behind-the-scenes look at the space.

“Really what you have there is the dream team of American architects at the time,” he said. “And this amazing space is what you get out of it.”

The Auditorium Theatre was designed by famed architects Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler (with Frank Lloyd Wright as their intern). It opened in December of 1889 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975. It has hosted some of the world’s most famous entertainers.

“When Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young were traveling across the country to perform in Woodstock New York, they stopped in Chicago the night before to perform on stage for the first time,” Regan said.

The impressive roster of performers extends from the past to the present.  

You can experience that past in person by heading over to the Auditorium Theatre website to get your walking tour tickets now.

For more information on the financial impact in the Chicago’s Theatre District, visit Chicago Loop Alliance.

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