Longtime Chicago theater program rushes to raise money to avoid shutdown

A Chicago arts education organization is trying to keep the curtain from closing after 25 years. 

The pandemic ravaged the budget for Playmakers Laboratory, and the board of directors decided last month that the show could not go on.

"Once they kind of realized what kind of financial strain they were in, their choice was to dissolve the organization," said Brandon Cloyd, Playmakers Laboratory Artistic Director.

Then came a plot twist. 

A hero emerged. 

The people who've been acting, teaching and loving this arts education group the past 25 years stepped up as a new board, determined to save the day.

"Twenty-five years of teaching artists kind of came together in an effort to save this work.  So we're fundraising, and we're restructuring to make sure that we're solvent for the future," said Cloyd.

Meantime, even their most well-known show, "That's Weird Grandma" is on pause, after a two-decade run. 


The new board started an emergency GoFundMe with a goal of $60,000 by March 7.

Some students are helping with donations.

The Playmakers Laboratory has reached over 30,000 kids in Chicago elementary schools over the past 25 years, and the teaching artists believe students really need them right now.

"It allows a platform for young people to kind of share their voices, which are often kind of put to the sidelines, especially in a pandemic," said Cloyd.

Playmakers Laboratory is determined for this story to have a happy ending.

They hope to be back in schools next month.