USITT Gateway Project Seeks Mentees to Increase Diversity in Technical Theatre

by Jacob Coakley

USITT’s Gateway Project is accepting applicationsIn an effort to increase diversity and inclusion in theatrical design fields, USITT’s Gateway Project is seeking applicants for mentorship opportunities at USITT 2015 in Cincinnati. Students and young professionals are encouraged to apply for the program, which will give them free registration to the USITT conference as well as mentorship with current USITT members who share their backgrounds.

USITT’s Gateway Project Seeks 12 Mentees for 2015

USITT’s Gateway Project is accepting nominations for students and young professionals from populations underrepresented in the theatre industry for a unique mentoring opportunity at USITT 2015 in Cincinnati next March.

USITT is offering free registration to its 2015 Annual Conference & Stage Expo and professional mentoring to aspiring theatre artists underrepresented in their fields.

Nominate here. The deadline is Nov. 1.

Gateway is part of USITT’s Diversity Initiative, a mission to increase diversity and inclusion in the theatrical design and technology industry. Women in sound design, straight men in costume design, and African-Americans in stage management are among the groups who may find themselves in the minority in their chosen fields.

Gateway nominees and nominators don’t have to be USITT members. Once nominated, candidates will be sent applications. USITT’s Gateway Committee will review and select the participants to attend USITT 2015 along with professional mentors from USITT. The event is March 18-21 at Cincinnati’s Duke Energy Convention Center.

USITT is compiling a database of members willing to volunteer for the project, said Gateway Coordinator Jesse Portillo. The committee will strive to match each mentee with a mentor to serve as a networking contact during and beyond the Conference.

“We will keep in mind gender and ethnicity as well as their field,” Portillo said. “If we have a student who is a black female lighting designer, our goal would be to pair her with a mentor of a similar background.”

USITT piloted the program at USITT 2014 in Fort Worth.  Three students of color participated with support from USITT and their academic institutions. (See one student’s review here.)

“The ultimate goal is to start a dialogue within academic programs and the industry and start addressing the broader issue of diversity,” Portillo said.

USITT, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, is the national non-profit association serving backstage members of the performing arts and live entertainment industry. For more information, please visit