Dear Free Street Community,

We are writing to share with you how Free Street Theater is taking action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support our staff, contractors, and youth.

The well-being of the Free Street family is our chief priority. While public health concerns grow, we recognize that we must move cautiously to care for ourselves and be intentional about how we care for others during this crisis. In that spirit, we are taking the following steps to ensure that we remain safe, accessible, and connected.  

Out of an abundance of caution, and in alignment with the guidance shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , local and state governments, Chicago Public Schools and our partners, we believe it is important to limit our community's exposure to COVID-19.

As such, Free Street will implement the following strategies:

  • We will move our daily operations online and our staff will work remotely. Both the Pulaski Park and Storyfront locations will be closed until April 1. At that time we will reassess the situation and determine whether or not we need to extend this practice. 

  • We are working as a team to move our youth programming online. Rehearsing a show via videoconferencing may sound a bit unorthodox, but this approach goes beyond artistic practice. This will allow us to remain connected with our young people, do regular check-ins on their well-being (and help them navigate how to find necessary supports for themselves and their families), and continue to do joyful work in the midst of these uncertain times.

  • We remain steadfast in supporting our part-time staff and contractors. Income insecurity is real, particularly within our sector. In the coming days, we will work closely with our non-salaried staff to identify what work can be moved online. While some of our work can be done remotely, this is not always the case in theatre, and anticipate that this move will reduce their working hours. Nonetheless, we are committed to ensuring that they continue to have the income for the hours they have committed to working for us. We will also share resources for our larger artistic community via social media.

Over the next few days, our team will be working together to refine these approaches and roll them out. We encourage you to follow these best practices to keep yourselves, and those most vulnerable amongst us, safe:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a suitable alternative.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Practice social distancing - no hugs and kisses, no handshakes, no high fives.
  • If you can work from home, work from home. Urge your employer to allow remote work if needed.
  • Stay away from social gatherings and events of any size.
  • If you have symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you are encouraged to consult a health care provider and stay home until your symptoms have subsided.

As an organization that deeply values the power of our stories and human connection, we understand how challenging these measures are. Isolation can be taxing, and we recognize that Free Street often serves as a safe haven for so many who walk through our doors.

In addition to ensuring our operations move smoothly, we are also working together to find ways where we can remain connected - be it watching a film together online, reading poetry or plays online, or doing a regular check-in. We will make sure to communicate how we will do that via social media.

Our leadership remains accessible to you for any questions and are committed to fostering a culture of care during this challenging moment. 

With love and in solidarity,