An Oak Park children’s non-profit is the latest Illinois organization to say a ticket management company held their fundraising profits hostage for more than a year.  

The Pro Musica Children’s Chorus trusted a company called “Brown Paper Tickets” to help with ticket sales for its 2023 fundraiser.

But more than a year later, the organization still doesn’t have the money raised, leading them to contact NBC 5 Responds.

For more than 30 years, the Pro Musica Youth Chorus has helped kids from kindergarten through 12th grade find their voice in the Oak Park community.  

“We’re a little local non-profit, where we’re helping kids grow and become stronger singers and stronger people,” Karen Kitto, the executive director of the chorus told NBC Chicago.  

Every year, the chorus hosts just a single fundraising event to raise money for necessities like rent and uniforms. In May 2023, Kitto hired a ticket management company called “Brown Paper Tickets” to help with the fundraiser.  

While ticket sales raised nearly $4,500 for the chorus, there was “radio silence” when it came time to collect the funds from Brown Paper Tickets.

“There’s no customer service number, they don’t return emails,” Kitto said. “They just never responded to anything.” 

NBC 5 Responds discovered that this is far from the first time Brown Paper Tickets has owed consumers money, with teams across the country fielding complaints about the company for more than three years.

According to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, 22 complaints about Brown Paper Tickets have been received since 2020.

Consumers have also taken to Facebook to voice their concerns, seeking those in similar situations.

A Facebook group entitled “Stiffed by Brown Paper Tickets” boasts over 1,000 current members, with many individuals revealing similar complaints.

This isn’t our team’s first encounter with the company either.  

This past May, NBC 5 Responds helped a Riverside nonprofit recover nearly $30,000, which Brown Paper Tickets withheld, without explanation, for almost a year. Now, Pro Musica Chorus has emerged with a similar encounter.

“All the fundraising and the knocking on doors and all the contributions from my community in Oak Park… all of that just basically evaporated because we hadn’t received any of the payout from Brown Paper Tickets,” Kitto said.  

Since May 2023, Kitto had tried to contact the company more than a dozen times, all but giving up before reaching out to NBC 5 Responds. 

Within three hours of contacting Brown Paper Tickets, the company said Kitto’s money would be released the following day as “part of [its] ongoing payment schedule.” 

“You solved it, like, lightning fast,” Kitto said. “It was unbelievable.” 

The company also reiterated what it told us back in May – that it was acquired by in 2022, and it’s been working to disburse over $75 million to event organizers worldwide.  

Brown Paper Tickets said it expected to complete all of their payments by the end of May. Now, more than a month after that deadline, we followed up to see if the company was on track. 

NBC 5 Responds is still waiting to hear back.

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