Frequently Asked Questions from Teens about TAP

What is TAP?

TAP stands for Teen Arts Pass. It’s a free program that gives teens ages 13-19 access to show tickets at venues throughout the Chicago area. If a participating venue has any unsold tickets, you can buy them for $5 from the box office as soon as it opens on the day of the show. The best part is that only TAP members have access to these $5 tickets – and the full price for some of these shows can be $200 or more!

How do I participate?

All you have to do is sign up! You’ll get an email right away with a digital card that you can print or show on your phone for immediate access to TAP shows.

When heading to a show, please call the box office first to ensure tickets are still available. Then arrive at least 30 minutes before the show time. This will give you the best chance to get a ticket, and also most TAP Partners won’t allow late seating.

Who can become a TAP member?

Any teen ages 13-19! You don’t have to live in Chicago, but the eligible performances are all in the Chicago area.

Can I bring a parent or friend?

If your friend is a teen, all they have to do is sign up! If you want to go see a show with a parent/guardian or anyone under 13 or over 20, TAP arts partners offer “companion tickets” for certain shows (the schedule varies by partner/venue). For these performances, any TAP member can buy two tickets for $5 each and use the second one for any non-TAP member of any age. Head over to our calendar and look for the purple dot; this means that companion tickets are available for a performance!

What’s eligible?

Any performances on our calendar/list/map that aren’t sold out are eligible. This is basically everything at our partner venues. TAP tickets are available only if the show is not sold out. And please, please, please, call the box office before you head out to see a show to make sure they’ve still got tickets!

All TAP events are arts-focused performances (dance, music, theater, etc).

What is a TAP Arts Partner?

Arts Partners are the organizations that host TAP-eligible arts events – performing groups and venues! We’re super grateful to them for making this program possible. Right now we have 27 Arts Partners all over Chicago and the surrounding area; learn more about them here.

What am I supposed to wear to shows?

While each venue is going to be a little different, the basic rule is to dress up at least a little. No top hats or prom dresses necessary, but you’ll probably feel most comfortable if you’re not in gym clothes.

I’ve never been to the opera/symphony/theater/ballet…do I need to know anything about how to act?

Though we encourage lots of individuality in everyday life, the best rule of thumb when attending a performance is to try to act how everyone else is acting. Some TAP partners might expect nothing more than polite clapping, while others may invite audience suggestions. Do your best to go with the flow and if you have any specific questions, ask the box office or an usher when you’re at the venue. Oh, and turn your phone off. Not silent. Off. The light of a screen can really distract other people watching the show, so live in the moment and turn it off for a little bit!

What about the Chicago curfew?

Yeah, so Chicago’s got a curfew: for ages 12-17, it’s 10pm, 7 days a week. We ask that if you are 17 or under, please consider the curfew when choosing which shows to see. If you’re bringing a parent or guardian with you or getting picked up by one right after the show, it’s no problem. But if you’re taking public transportation or driving home without a parent or guardian, pay attention to the time. We will try our best to include the runtime for all performances in the event info on our calendar, but it’s best again to check in with the box office if you’re concerned a show might keep you out after curfew.

What if I don’t have a school or state ID?

Please call the box office of the venue you’re planning to attend in advance to let them know that you don’t have the ID and find out if they’ll let you in. If you don’t have ID, it’s also a good idea to bring something else along that proves you’re a student, like a recent letter from school, a report card, or something else that would have your name and the name of your school.

If you’re a teen that doesn’t attend a school or have a state ID, please still call the box office and ask if there’s something else you can bring (like a letter from a parent/guardian, or anything that has proof of age).

What happens if I lose my card?

First, we encourage everyone to download and use the TAP App, which can be used in place of your card. But if you don’t have a compatible phone or can’t get the app, contact us at to get a replacement digital card.

So, what’s the story with the plastic TAP card? 

We’ve stopped mailing plastic TAP cards for now (#SaveTheTrees!), but we’ll let you know when this is an option again. If you still have one from the “Before Times,” it still works! Use it to your heart’s content at TAP-eligible arts events.

Isn’t there a mobile app?

There is! Download the TAP mobile app and use it to browse events, save faves, and check-in to shows easily. We recently updated the app (September 2022) to include more filters and to make signing up, logging in, & on to seeing shows faster! Download the app from the App Store or get it on Google Play!

I’ve got thoughts about the mobile app. How can I share them?

We wanna hear them! You can fill out our TAP mobile app feedback form or email us at to share ideas, provide feedback, or let us know about any bugs you come across.

I’m a parent/guardian/other adult looking to sign up a teen. Can I do that?

We strongly encourage teens to sign up for themselves, however if that is not possible for whatever reason, just be sure all of the information provided at registration is for the teen, not the adult.

I’m a teacher. How can I use TAP with my students?

We’d love for you to encourage teens in your classroom to sign up for TAP and start seeing shows! While you cannot purchase group tickets through TAP, consider a few other ways to engage your students in the arts:

    • Ask them to attend a show of their choice for extra credit (have them bring in the program or playbill!). You can ask them to fill out a reflection document about their experience: What did they enjoy? What did they find challenging? Did the show prompt any emotional response?
    • If you teach the arts: Highlight TAP-eligible performances (check out the calendar) in your classroom. Seeing some of the world’s best professionals on stage can motivate and inspire your students! 
    • If you teach English Language Arts or Social Studies: Visit the calendar to see what’s coming up. Many shows have literary or cultural ties that can help your classroom curriculum come to life.
    • Reach out to to request promotional materials and discuss how we can help with outreach at your school.

Remember, TAP is all about allowing teens to explore the arts on their own and make their own choices about what they want to see!

If you’re interested in purchasing group tickets to a performance, please contact our arts partners directly and ask to speak to a Group Sales Manager.

Will the shows be appropriate for teens of all ages?

Each event listing will show any content warnings or age recommendations if the TAP Arts Partner presenting the event feels it is appropriate to do so. If you are particularly concerned about something, please feel free to call the box office directly to ask, and have a discussion with your parent/guardian if necessary. Urban Gateways is not responsible for the content in all TAP-eligible performances and allows for teens (and their parent/guardian, when applicable) to make their own decisions about what is appropriate themselves.

I signed up, but I didn’t get an email with my digital TAP card. Help!

This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s usually an email issue. If you signed up using a school-based email address, it may not accept emails from everyone, including Teen Arts Pass. Please contact directly with your name and the email you used. We’ll help solve what happened and get you set up with your digital TAP card.

I need help, who can I call/email?

If you need more information about or help with something related to a performance or venue, please contact the box office directly. Box office contact info is available on all of our calendar event listings.

For questions about TAP membership, the TAP website, or general program information, please contact

How can I get more involved with TAP?

It’s awesome that you want to get more involved with this program! For teens interested in doing more with TAP, we’ve got something called the Teen Council; they advise the direction of the program by evaluating partners, informing marketing and outreach strategies, and serving as the voice of TAP to the public. Applications for the Teen Council open each summer – keep an eye on this page!