Why TeenTix LA Matters

By Theo D., former TeenTix LA intern


Hi, my name is Theo and I’m 16 years old. Do you remember your first live performance? A concert, a play, a musical? Well mine was the Lion King when I was 3. I was mesmerized by the boy playing young simba, and asked my mom when it would be my turn to be on stage. This sparked my passion for the arts. I spent my childhood in theater, singing, dance, piano, writing, and visual arts. They were the center of my life, my heart and soul.

And then everything changed. When I was fourteen years old, what we now know was lifelong chronic illnesses that weren’t previously accurately identified, were exacerbated by a black mold infection, and culminated in intestinal failure. We didn’t think I would make it to the end of 2022. It was unlikely I’d ever see a performance again, let alone be in one.

When everything seemed hopeless, I found a glimmer of light. While an amazing team of doctors deserve credit for saving my life, my mental health was saved by a different miracle: TeenTix LA, a non profit that aims to break the barriers keeping LA teens out of the arts community and empower them to engage with it on their own terms. Firstly, TeenTix removes financial barriers. The free TeenTix LA pass reduces admission to just $5 for 13-19 year olds in LA. Secondly, navigating and accessing the arts community can be really intimidating and overwhelming. But youth are wanted and needed at arts events. That’s why we compile all the best arts events into a monthly interactive calendar, so teens can easily find events that interest them and reserve their tickets.

I was over the moon when I was chosen to be one of the first teen interns for TeenTix LA. My job was to go to our arts partners productions and advertise them on our instagram. And at first, it felt like an average theater going experience. But that quickly changed. I eventually took the initiative to talk to the artists and staff who made these productions happen and tell them about teentix.. I’d connect with all kinds of people and the more events I attended the more the word spread. Pretty quickly I went from explaining what TeenTix was to instantly connecting over passion for the program because the artists had already heard of it. I was so proud to realize that I had made that change happen. Everyone I talked to was thrilled to see young people getting involved. Soon, they started recognizing me and being excited to see me. For the first time in over a year, I felt like I was still an artist and had something meaningful to contribute to the community. These people saw me as more than a sick kid, and every one of them helped create one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Because TeenTix LA doesn’t just help teens observe the arts, it empowers them to be a part of them.

My paid internship ended in June, but I was so motivated by the bright future of this organization that I’ve stayed on as a volunteer to help them grow. There are currently is only one full time staff member on the team, so at the moment we don’t have the resources to manage many more partners. But with funding for more staff, we can continue to grow our list of over 30 community and arts partners and create even more opportunities for LA teens.

So we need your help.

In the future, TeenTix LA would like to launch an arts journalism program for LA youth, hire more teens and pay them for their work, partner with rideshare companies to provide transportation access to our Passholders amidst the nightmare of LA public transport, and reach as many people like me as we can.

The success of the Seattle branch of TeenTix shows us just how possible this is, and in TeenTix LA’s first year and a half, we’ve had massive growth already. We have 1700 teens signed up for our pass and passes have been used over 1000 times. We also had our first in person event for Passholders in March, and plan on many more.

My medical circumstances may be rare, but LA teens who need a vessel for connection and community aren’t. With your help, we can bring that glimmer of hope to all LA youth. Let’s make it a reality together.

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