Knight Foundation funds free tickets

By Grant Morgan, Arts & Life Editor

There is an old venue using new means to promote art and culture near downtown Akron.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently awarded EJ Thomas Hall with $120,000. This money will be used for this season and next to give free tickets to young adults ages 25 to 40.

ZipTix, the program that provides the free tickets, has already been available for UA students for the past three years. Students could opt into this program through email and other social media.

Now, The Knight Foundation award will expand the ZipTix program to include Akron’s young adults, as well as additional UA students.

“This funding will make a positive, powerful, and immediate difference in Akron…by bolstering the contributions of EJ’s stage door to Akron’s artistic and cultural landscape,” said Dan Dahl, Executive Director of EJ Thomas Hall.

There are many reasons why EJ is the ideal venue to promote an artistic community. According to Dahl, it attracts more than 400,000 patrons to its nearly 250 events each year, with audiences coming from all over Northeast Ohio.

“[EJ] is a recognized hub for arts and culture, the region’s flagship performance venue,” Dahl said. “[It is] a powerful economic asset for downtown Akron, and a recognized catalyst for collaboration for our campus and community.”

The performances made free by the Knight Foundation funding will feature mostly “young and edgy” trend setters, according to UA’s website. Upcoming events include the Hot Sardines and their prohibition-era jazz music, passionate plays by GroundWorks DanceTheater, pieces by organ-prodigy Cameron Carpenter, and tunes from the UA Steel Drum Band.

James Mahon, Vice President of Marketing and Brand Management at the Akron Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, has no direct affiliation with the Knight Foundation or the award given to EJ, but he does explain why flourishing arts are a major component of a prospering city.

“I think a vibrant arts and cultural scene is tremendously important,” Mahon said. “When there is a very strong and vibrant arts scene, that makes our area attractive to visitors…[EJ] is one of the many important venues in the community.”

Through the Knight Foundation award, UA and EJ Thomas are working together to create a “vibrant” arts community, so long as students and community members take advantage of the opportunities.

A list of events to be held at EJ, including performances in its Broadway, Forum, Stage Door and Contemporaries series, can be found on Also, on this same website, those interested can sign up for ZipTix to start receiving free EJ Thomas tickets.