In partnership with the Black Theatre Coalition (BTC) and Columbia University’s Prince Fellowship, a group of theater producers has announced its new initiative to support the next generation of Black theater leaders with The Theater Leadershop Project (TTLP). The non-profit organization, founded in 2020, aims to provide resources to programs that seek to diversify commercial theater leadership by establishing a three-year fellowship program that invests in mentorships, training, job placement, and long-term support for Black creatives in key leadership positions (producers, general managers, company managers, and stage managers), thereby transforming and strengthening American theater, where Black professionals are dramatically under-represented.
With an advisory council that includes such key entertainment figures as Whoopi Goldberg, John Gore, Kamilah Forbes, Whitney White, Aaliytha Stevens, Brian Moreland, Robert Fried, Stefan Schick, and Oliver Sultan, TTLP founding members/producers Barbara Broccoli (Once, The Band’s Visit), Lia Vollack (MJ the Musical, Almost Famous), Alecia Parker (Waitress, Chicago), Patrick Daly (The Mountaintop; August: Osage County), and Travis LeMont Ballenger (MJ the Musical, Almost Famous) will advise on TTLP programming and act as mentors to the fellows. Leah Harris, formerly of Dallas Theater Center and Milwaukee Rep, will serve as program manager.
In a joint statement, Broccoli and Vollack said, “It is our belief at TTLP that long-term financial support alongside training/mentorship and networking opportunities will provide successful outcomes for the program’s participants. We are thrilled to be in partnership with existing organizations such as Black Theatre Coalition, supporting the leadership work they are already doing at the forefront of change.”
Set to begin in Fall 2021, the fellowship programs will be open to candidates across the US who desire careers in commercial theater management or production. All TTLP Fellows will receive a compensation package that includes healthcare.
Together with BTC, TTLP is creating six two-year General and Company Management Fellowships with six leading Broadway general management offices. Following the first two years in the program, TTLP will work to assist fellows with job placement. BTC Co-Founder and Artistic Director T. Oliver Reid noted, “We realized that there was a necessary element that no one has talked about: long-term, sustained, paid apprenticeships and fellowships. Through Black Theatre Coalition’s Management Fellowships, in partnership with TTLP, we can make certain that when these general and company management fellows are given opportunities, they are ready for it. Being in these rooms and building relationships, alongside the knowledge gained during the fellowship will help us move the needle towards equity in the American theater.”
For three successive years, TTLP will also partner with the Columbia University School of the Arts to fund an additional fellow in the distinguished Prince Fellowship program (formerly known as the T. Fellowship, and renamed in honor of Hal Prince), which provides early-career producers with the network, financial resources, and mentorship necessary for a career as a creative producer. TTLP Creative Producing Fellows will each spend the second year of their fellowship working in a production office, and in the third year, TTLP will use its financial resources and networks to help the fellows find job placement opportunities.
For more information, go online. If you would like to contribute, all donations are tax-deductible through The Theatre Leadership Project’s 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF).