NEW YORK CITY: Black Theatre United (BTU) and Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF) have announced the creation of the Early Career Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Theatre-Makers Program, a new central component of WTF’s training program beginning this coming summer. The program is in partnership with the Tiger Baron Foundation, which also contributed the lead gift to start it. This new program is part of WTF’s refashioning of its training program, an effort to eliminate systemic racism at the festival.
“The only viable way forward for this institution and for all American theatrical institutions is to discard programs and systems that oppress people and to rebuild with care for a future that unites and elevates Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color,” said WTF artistic director Mandy Greenfield in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do ahead. The Williamstown Theatre Festival board and staff, as well as the professional artists who consider the festival an artistic home, are humbled by the extraordinary work of BTU, and we are grateful for their partnership, leadership, trust, and candor as we find our way forward, together. We are also tremendously grateful for the support of the Tiger Baron Foundation, whose visionary lead gift enables us to launch this program and will hopefully inspire other foundations and individuals to support this important work.”
The festival, which will not be running its existing apprentice program in 2021, is partnering with BTU in shared dedication to creating opportunities for emerging theatremakers in an environment focused on the core values of equity and inclusion. Participants in the new program, to be called BTU Rise Fellows, will spend the summer in residence at the festival, receiving room, board, and a stipend of $2,500. The fellows will be embedded in WTF departments, working alongside experienced theatremakers, while also participating in seminars, panels, and structured mentorship with BTU founding members within a classroom setting. Fellows will be identified and recruited through a joint effort by the organizations.
“This collaboration ensures that access to this training program is guaranteed for at least 10 participants, who will become a part of BTU Rise, BTU’s own initiative for early-career practitioners,” said BTU founding member Allyson Tucker-Mitchell in a statement. “These BTU Rise participants will be able to avail themselves of the benefits of WTF, and they will also have access to our BTU Rise mentors, who will offer support during the program and beyond. BTU is working with WTF to create spaces that are safe, nurturing, inclusive, and artistically satisfying for all BTU Rise participants who attend…The program is designed to facilitate connections with other BIPOC artists in the program and those outside who will provide guidance and support as our participants enter into or transition within the various aspects of the theatrical industry. With this collaboration, BTU strives to create an inclusive program that will allow BIPOC artists to emphatically state, ‘We are here. We will be seen. We will not be denied.’”
More information about the program, including how to apply, can be found here.
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