Beginning in winter 2017, KDT transitioned its longtime Pay-What-You-Can program into the groundbreaking Admit:ALL initiative, which provide twenty free tickets to every performance of every KDT production. The Admit:ALL initiative is an extension of our egalitarian core values and mission to “provide a place where questions of justice, morality, and human freedom can be explored.” In exchange for a ticket that is completely free, patrons are only asked to provide contact information in order to develop long-term relationships. The program is the first of its kind in the area, but is similar to other free admission models such as Radical Hospitality at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis and Free Range Art at the Fusebox Festival in Austin. Since its rollout, KDT has provided over 650 Admit:ALL tickets with an approximate value of $16,250. KDT captured contact information from 87% of Admit:ALL users and, of those patrons, 60% were first time KDT attendees.
The primary goals for the Admit:ALL initiative are to build relationships with communities that have been traditionally undeserved by the arts and to eliminate real or perceived barriers to participation. For KDT, theater is, by definition, a place of community - a vibrant dialogue between the artists and the audience that is crucial to our humanity. As such, we believe that theater should look and feel like the community we serve and that our audience should reflect the diversity of the Dallas community. KDT has a long history of presenting challenging, provocative, and diverse plays with diverging points of view. By increasing accessibility and diversifying audiences, Admit:ALL will allow for meaningful conversations between communities and, hopefully, help ignite real change in our community. Kitchen Dog Theater believes that art shouldn't be a luxury, but rather is an essential part of the human experience.
Based on extensive research and site visits to other theaters, KDT is utilizing a grassroots outreach approach to marketing our free ticketing program in historically underserved communities, particularly those without the financial means to access the arts. KDT hires Community Liaisons to help identify and build relationships with community advocates and community leaders and forge partnerships with community organizations. KDT also reaches out to engage area bloggers and community groups focused on issues relevant to specific productions with invitations and tickets. In addition, KDT partners with area non-profits focused on social change issues related to the content of specific productions with fundraising performance events. In the future, KDT hopes to initiate additional innovative activities to engage audiences, including hosting community events and contracting paid community advisory councils.
ln the first phase of outreach, KDT is focusing on high density lower income communities in closest proximity to the Trinity River Arts Center (TRAC) - West Dallas, northern Oak Cliff, and just south of downtown. As Mayor Mike Rawlings noted, “Dallas is the poorest rich city in the United States. Poverty is concentrated in this city in deep pockets, and it’s growing denser in those pockets.” Many of the zip codes in these target areas do not appear in the top 100 communities served by the performing arts, according to TRG's North Texas Cultural Co-op statistics. Through Admit: All, KDT seeks to lead the way for dynamic change in engaging these underserved audiences.