If you are a junior/senior undergraduate student or recent graduate, you currently have the opportunity to apply for the Black Theater Coalition (BTC) / Broadway Across America (BAA) Fellowships. The fellowship application can be found at www.BroadwayFellows.com And it must be no later than September 30, 2022 for the spring semester. When we think of fellowships that have something to do with the arts, we think of acting, producing, and directing, but did you know that there’s a whole other world going on behind the scenes in productions? This is a space that has never been carved out for blacks. But thanks to this amazing collaboration between BTC and BAA, space at the table has finally been created. The fellowship is now in its second year. It is very exciting to be offered fellowships for black students that feature interaction with blacks who are working behind the scenes in the theater field at the moment.
at recent days AmNews I spoke with Bree Turner, director of the BTC/BAA Fellowship Program.
AmNews: This is the second year of the BTC/BAA fellowship, where did the idea for this program come from?
BT: The idea for this program was born out of a collaboration between the Black Theater Coalition and John Gore/Broadway Across America in the wake of the tragic loss of George Floyd. The program’s mission is to address and combat the underrepresentation of race on Broadway both on and off the stage.
AmNews: What roles do the two organizations involved in these fellowships play?
BT: The Black Theater Alliance (BTC) and Broadway Across America (BAA), sponsored by the John Gore Organization (JGO) work hand in hand to recruit and mentor fellows during the 14-week program. Fellows are based in Broadway Across America offices across the country and work with both the BAA and JGO to learn the ins and outs of commercial theater and presentation. BTC plays an essential role in recruitment for the program, as they help connect their networks to this opportunity and nurture them through the process.
AmNews: It is amazing to think of these fellowships taking place at the BAA offices in New York City, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Louisville, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and Seattle. How many students who are junior/senior undergraduates or recent graduates participate in each location.
BT: We are flexible with the number of fellows in each market and we are excited to see the applicants we receive on this course. We had six fellows last year – three of them in New York and three in cities around the country – and we hope to increase that number this year.
AmNews: In the 14-week program, Spring 2023, participants get paid part-time jobs 20 hours a week in theater management learning how to tour Broadway, what exactly does that include?
BT: This program works like an on-the-job training course/seminar. Fellows in each market will spend 20 hours in our local offices where they will learn about topics ranging from ticketing, production, finance, programming and more. Once a week, all colleagues will join a Zoom cross-market training session where our CEOs lead a presentation on a specific area of the commercial stage. We hope that the combination of group learning and personal practice will provide these fellows with the tools to build a successful career in theatrical business.
AmNews: Given the makeup of most management positions in theater, why is this program so necessary to encourage equality, diversity, access, and inclusion in theatrical productions?
BT: Programs like this are essential if we are to continue to diversify and make room for people of color in the theater industry. I remember, as a black woman, feeling nervous about whether or not I could be successful here, because I didn’t see many others who looked like me doing the stage backstage. I hope our program can provide education and instill confidence that young black people are successful here.
AmNewsHow important is it to these students to have black theater professionals and mentors in this field?
BT: Sometimes we don’t realize what we are denied until we experience it firsthand. I remember how it felt like meeting Brian Moreland, the famous black Broadway producer, and felt like I was talking to an old friend. Despite being new to the industry, he always encouraged and supported my career, and assured me that I would be successful. There is something very special and familial about the camaraderie with Black, and Brian’s support has unlocked trust in me that I have yet to see in myself. This is the power of a good mentor who is like you.
AmNews: When young people think of theater, they may think of what they see on stage, but there is a whole world behind the scenes in the fields of: arts management, business management, marketing, public relations/communications, finance/accounting, theater studies, human resources and ticketing/sales/ Processes. How do you spark their interest in these areas of the fellowship?
BT: When you go on stage, you see talent bring the story to life on stage. What many don’t know, however, is that there is a whole community of people behind the stage, hidden in the theater, and in the neighboring offices working tirelessly to create those magical experiences on stage. The wealth of opportunity is not discussed in the show business, which is a huge area to learn about and grow in. We hope our program introduces young people to this opportunity and gives them the tools to join us in the commercial theater industry.AmNews: When I heard about this program I was very excited. These kinds of behind-the-scenes careers weren’t something that blacks in the past could aspire to. For years, you might have had one black person in the room, because these were always white-dominated fields. I thank God for the fellowship opportunity that BTC/BAA is offering to black youth and hope you take advantage of it. Imagine being trained to be the valuable support system behind every successful production! When you lift that curtain, you know you have a relationship with it too! Get Your Apps ASAP! These are the opportunities we are just now beginning to share! Apply for your seat at the table!