Free to BE
Free to BE is the Black Ensemble Theater’s initiative to manifest its mission of eradicating racism outside its walls, boldly sharing it with the diverse people and communities of our world.
“I first dreamed of a theater company that was in existence to eradicate racism. I named it the Black Ensemble Theater and that dream came true. I next dreamed of a permanent home from which we could build and grow, I called it the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center-—and that dream came true. I now dream of a village, a diverse community where people exist together in peace and acceptance and this dream will come true. It is the newest initiative of the Black Ensemble Theater, an outward reflection of our mission to eradicate racism and we call it Free To BE.”
— Jackie Taylor
Building Projects Include:
1.BET Cultural Center
Facade enhancements will transform the home of the Black Ensemble Theater into a beacon for the village. The Center also houses the existing theaters, rehearsal room, green roof and terrace, as well as the administrative offices
2. BET Arts and Media Center
Acting as a facilitator for artistic collaboration, this multi-cultural, multi-purpose space will serve to advance experimentation in performance, new media and technology as well as house the BET Film Archive and additional programming and administrative spaces. The street-level will be anchored with a retail tenant compatible with
3. BET Education Center
This new education center will provide expanded outreach opportunities for the Black Ensemble Theater and include six class/flex spaces, two conference spaces as well as additional programming and administrative spaces. It will also contain a street-level literary cafe (compatible with BET brand) to welcome passers by into the village.
4. Jackie’s Soul
Soon to be Chicago’s soul and southern food favorite, this new dining experience will feature ever-changing nightly entertainment and communal conversation “in the round,” and be topped by an inspired “Free to BE” green roof.
5. Freedom Lofts
A culturally-centered and exemplary residential community comprised of artist lofts and affordable-luxury apartments situated in the heart of the Free to BE Village. The residential development will also house additional BET programming and administrative spaces as well as major retail and cultural tenants.
The initiative also includes strategic projects that reach even farther out into the world. These include:
Free to BE People
A cloud-based social platform and app that allows users to express their unique authenticity in a positive, energized environment.
Free to BE Brand
A culturally-minded apparel brand inspired by acceptance, culture and positivity.