- by Kathy Eddy
NEW YORK, NY—Roundabout Theatre Company and Education at Roundabout have announced the Theatrical Workforce Development Program (TWDP), the theatre industry's first workforce development program to train and place young adults in professional technical theatre careers. This new initiative aims to break down the barriers that prevent young adults from joining the industry and empower a diverse new generation of theatre professionals. In partnership with the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the youth development non-for- profit, The Door, Roundabout's new program marks the first collaboration between a theatrical employer and the union that represents backstage workers to train and place young adults in professional careers as Stagehands, Riggers, Electricians, Sound Engineers, Carpenters, Hairstylists, Makeup Artists and Wardrobe Workers.
Further information from Roundabout Theatre (roundabouttheatre.org/education)
This program adds another arm to the 20-year-old Roundabout education program that reaches 35,000 students, educators, and patrons annually in all five boroughs of New York City and around the country.
The Theatrical Workforce Development Program, with substantial funding and support from the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), includes three years of training, job placement, and one-on-one mentorship with top industry professionals to ensure a smooth and successful transition from high school graduate to working theatre professional. Each year, the program will provide a group of up to 20 fellows with a living wage, relevant skills and industry knowledge, work experience, access to world-class venues and resources, and support services to navigate this environment.
The $500,000 earmarked by MOME in support of this program marks the first city partnership to specifically address diversity in the theatre industry workforce. In partnership with SBS, MOME also played a key role in the development of this program through early convening of industry leaders.
The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and NYC Small Business Services are proud to partner with the Roundabout Theatrical Workforce Development Program to establish the Made in New York Stagecraft Boot Camp. The Boot Camp will train the fellows in safety, workforce readiness, and technical skills. This six-week intensive will kick off the longer 10-month hands-on technical training and will serve as a vital component preparing fellows for their future job placement.
This initiative comes on the heels of a spate of programming from MOME this year focused on increasing economic opportunities for New Yorkers in the city's booming entertainment sector. These include the Made in NY Writers Room, a fellowship program for TV writers from diverse backgrounds presented in partnership with SBS and the Writers Guild of America, East; and the MOME Women's Fund for Film and Theatre, a first-of- its-kind $5 million grant program for filmmakers, playwrights, and theatre producers working on projects by, for, or about women.
"The Theatrical Workforce Development Program is a necessary extension of the work Roundabout has been doing for the past 20 years in New York's public schools through Education at Roundabout," notes Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO of Roundabout Theatre Company. "Our programs have always aimed to leverage the resources of the nation's largest not-for-profit theatre to create partnerships with students, educators, early career professionals, and audiences, always using theatre as a tool to both captivate and mobilize the communities we serve. We are so proud to be adding to that important work by now joining with IATSE and The Door to provide this pathway into technical theatre careers for New York City public school graduates. And we are thrilled to spearhead this first-in-the-industry initiative, which we hope can become a model for similar programs nationwide."
Roundabout employs more than 400 technical theatre professionals annually and its education programs reach more than 35,000 people each year. For over 20-years, Roundabout has trained teachers, teaching artists, and high school students in technical theatre skills. In addition to lead partner IATSE, additional partners include: IATSE, The Door, The Public Theater, Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the Apollo Theater, Lee Strasberg Theater Institute and The Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (ART/NY).
Roundabout has cultivated a strong relationship with IATSE through five years of collaborating on other technical theatre education programs for high school students. Given both parties' existing impact on the technical theatre workforce and technical education, the goal of the program is to solidify a bridge from Roundabout's youth development programs into industry-leading technical theatre jobs throughout the city and beyond. The Door is a new partner, contributing vital career readiness and social skill building that are essential for a successful professional career.
"The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) represents over 130,000 technicians in live theatre, motion picture and television production, trade shows and exhibitions, broadcasting, and concerts," notes Matthew Loeb, President of IATSE International. "Roundabout's Theatrical Workforce Development Program will play an important role in creating tangible pathways for economically disadvantaged students into sustainable well-paying careers. IATSE is proud to partner with Roundabout in providing this new program, and welcomes this as an opportunity to build a more economically and racially diverse technical theater workforce. We feel this partnership is vital to strengthen the ties of the arts to the larger New York City community."
Based on data from the New York State Department of Labor, the demand for stagecraft jobs is projected to grow up to 24% by 2020. The need for individuals to receive subsidized training, paid experience, and a growing professional network to fulfill the growing need in the field has become even more apparent. This program seeks to strengthen and expand the ecosystem of the theatre community.
"New York City's $13 billion theatre industry creates a vast array of career opportunities, and we're committed to connecting New Yorkers with training and resources to access these jobs," said Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin. "The Theatrical Workforce Development Program and its Made in New York Stagecraft Training will provide participants with technical skills that will prepare them for productive careers in the City's booming entertainment sector. We thank Roundabout for creating this highly sophisticated program and look forward to seeing substantial results."
"The theatre industry is an essential part of the fabric of New York City, and this program will open doors for more New Yorkers to work in the field," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. "A local theatre industry that reflects the rich diversity and talents of all New Yorkers is an industry that is built for success."
"The Door is gratified to join the Roundabout Theatre Company and IATSE in its commitment to creating real, living wage career pathways for young people who often have no access to high quality training programs" says Andrea Vaghy Benyola, Managing Director of Career and Education Services, The Door.
Developed as an initiative of JobsFirstNYC's Young Adult Sectoral Employment Project (YASEP), the YASEP provided Roundabout and its partners with an opportunity to collectively plan the program while learning from workforce development experts and peer programs, and continues to shape our understanding of how we are poised to affect change in industry-wide practices.
"The Theatrical Workforce Development Program represents an unprecedented opportunity to affect change at the systems level by simultaneously bringing great value to the industry in terms of a ready and available pipeline of young, trained talent, and affording young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to embark in careers that will ensure their economic mobility and professional growth over time," notes Lou Miceli, Executive Director of JobsFirstNYC. "We have been privileged to have the Roundabout Theatre Company leadership and all their partners join us in the YASEP, where we have been able to share best practices and to continue to support and build this work over time."
Components of the Program:
Recruitment - The Theatrical Workforce Development Program will accept applications from young adults from New York City who have completed their high school degree or HSE within the past five years. This includes alumni from the existing Roundabout partner schools and on-site after school programs. The first cohort of fellows are currently enrolled in their first year of training, with the hopes of retaining up to 50 young adults in financially-sustaining careers by the end of the three year pilot period.
Training - In the first year, fellows receive 38 weeks of training at Roundabout Theatre Company in their education spaces and theatre venues. This first phase includes 30 hours a week of instructional skill and theory overview, hands-on training in all departmental disciplines including observing theatre professionals on the job at Roundabout and the Apollo Theater, and a two-month summer internship at a participating theatre. Throughout the training program, fellows will receive a living wage, reimbursed travel, one-on-one mentorship with an IATSE professional, access to IATSE training workshops, and retention support services.
The second year includes placement in an entry-level job at a not-for-profit theatre in their chosen trade. Fellows will continue to receive one-on-one mentorship with IATSE professionals, Roundabout-led wrap-around career programming, IATSE trainings, and retention support services from The Door. At the end of this phase, in the third year of the program, fellows will continue to be supported while they pursue contract work from their new professional networks and our cultivated network of theatres and performance, sports, cruise line, and conference venues.
Education at Roundabout turns Roundabout's theatres into classrooms and classrooms into theatres, for more than 35,000 people each year throughout all five boroughs of New York City and around the country. For over 20-years, Roundabout has developed education programs that provide students with access to the arts, encourage social and emotional learning, cultivate skills they will need to succeed in college and careers, and give their teachers the tools to help students flourish. Education at Roundabout has expanded to include diverse programming ranging from student matinees, to classroom residencies and school-wide partnerships in the NYC public schools, to professional development workshops for teachers, to audience engagement programming for our subscribers, to an apprenticeship and internship program, and our after-school program, Student Production Workshop.
If you are a young adult interested in applying to TWDP, or if you are an organization that would like to become an employment partner, visit roundabouttheatre.org/twdp for more information.