New Grant Program To Encourage Early Career Theater Designers And Industry Diversity

EXCLUSIVE: A newly launched financial grant program called The 1/52 Project will offer $15,000 grants to theater designers, with a mission to encourage early career designers from historically excluded groups and to diversify the Broadway design community.

Funded by designers with shows running on Broadway, the 1/52 Project encourages the working designers to donate one week every year of their weekly royalties to this fund. Applicants will be chosen based on talent, creativity, innovation, and potential for future excellence in the professional theatrical field. Demonstrated financial need will be a determining factor.

Beowulf Boritt, the Tony Award-winning set designer who founded the fund, said in a statement, “I always understood how lucky I was to work on Broadway, how tough it is to get that opportunity. But the past few years made clear to me what should probably have already been obvious, that part of my ‘good luck’ was being born a white boy, that simple fact opened doors for me. I hope this project can do a little to help support the careers of a more diverse group of designers.”

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Among the initial donors were John Lee Beatty, set designer of Chicago; Nevin Steinberg, sound designer of Hamilton, Hadestown, and Freestyle Love Supreme; Jennifer Tipton, lighting designer of To Kill A Mockingbird; Jeff Sugg,  projection designer of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical; and Tony Meola,  sound designer of Wicked. Although the 1/52 Project is primarily funded by donations from professional designers working on Broadway, the fund accepts donations from anyone.

The grant criteria have been created, and will be adjudicated, by a committee of BIPOC professional designers including costume designer Dede Ayite, projection designer David Bengali, set designer Wilson Chin, lighting designer Allan Edwards, sound designer Kai Harada, set designer Kimie Nishikawa, costume designer Paul Tazewell, costume designer Alejo Vietti, and costume designer Anita Yavich.

The 1/52 Project will open applications in mid-January 2022, and accept them until May 15, 2022. Finalists will be notified by July 1, 2022, and interviewed by the selection committee in August 2022, and grant recipients will be announced on Labor Day 2022.

The 1/52 Project is partnered with TheFrontOffice Foundation, created by Director Wendy C. Goldberg in 2020 to support the live theatrical community during the industry shutdown through direct artist relief, commissions and grants.

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