Arts Roundup: A new apprenticeship program supports young adults and the theater industry - The Theatre Lab

Arts Roundup: A new apprenticeship program supports young adults and the theater industry


July 25, 2022

Allow Me To Introduce: The Arts Institute for Creative Advancement is a new yearlong educational meets apprenticeship program that will train young people in technical theater. Young adults, ages 18–24, who are struggling to engage with school or work are invited to apply for the intensive program, which will prepare them for offstage theater careers such as lighting and audio engineering, set construction, scenic painting, rigging, and stage management. 

Led by the Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts, Life Pieces To Masterpieces, Sitar Arts Center, and the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, along with more than a dozen other local arts education organizations, the program was created by the DC Arts Education Alliance to provide career path options to youth from local communities hardest hit by the pandemic. It also seeks to address the city’s shortage of skilled technical production workers, which is currently impacting the local theater industry among others. With a $500,000 matching grant for the first two years of the institute from the Share Fund and an additional $250,000 in Community Project Funding for the pilot year in the House’s fiscal year 2023 appropriations bills (as secured by D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton), the program has $750,000 in funding for its first year. “If unaddressed, this labor shortage will cripple D.C.’s nationally renowned theater industry,” says Theater J Managing Director David Lloyd Olson in the press release. “The Institute will be a boon to DC’s thriving creative economy.”

With an inaugural class of 20 students, the tuition-free program will launch in January 2023 and all the participants will be paid to learn and work. Upon graduation, participants will receive nationally recognized certifications. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1, and the program is open to youth who did not complete high school, as well as those who have diplomas, GEDs, and some (limited) post-secondary experience; no prior experience in theater is required. “We’re thrilled to be creating and implementing a curriculum in theater production that will be accessible to young adults who have faced obstacles in traditional learning environments,” says Deb Gottesman, co-executive director of the Theatre Lab, which will house the program. “And, at the same time, we look forward to doing our part to diversify a high-wage, high-demand field that is currently more than 80% white.”

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