September 11, 2022—I recently had the opportunity to talk with Bree Turner, who is one of the co-leaders of a nationwide fellowship program launched last year for Black-identifying college students and recent graduates seeking to learn the inner-workings of the commercial theater business.
It’s called the Black Theatre Coalition/Broadway Across America Theater Administration Fellowship. And I am excited to share with the readers of Arts & Culture Connections that applications are now being accepted until September 30, 2022.
The second cohort of BTC/BAA fellows begins Spring semeer 2023. The fellows are paid while participating in the14-week program. They will be based at one of 10 BAA office locations spread throughout the United States—in New York, Houston, Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Ft. Lauderdale, Louisville, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle. The fellows will have the opportunity to learn from seasoned professionals about producing, presenting, ticketing, marketing strategies, as well as front and back of the house operations.
The fellows also will spend a week in New York for more on-the-job training and networking, and they will be given the opportunity to see a few Broadway shows.
Bree joined the JGO after graduating from the University of Florida in May 2021 with dual degrees in political science and theatre, with a concentration in Theatre Management. She said she did the two degrees to prepare for law school. But after interning for three months in BAA’s Ft. Lauderdale office, she leapt at the opportunity to work in New York as the Executive Assistant to Lauren Reid, President of the JGO.
Bree said growing up in a biracial household prepared her for her current responsibilities. She had to live between two worlds; she had to figure out how to connect with all people, and she had to learn to speak with conviction. Bree also had to figure out her own place as an actor and artist. She emerged from the chrysalis of her life experiences to discover that the performing arts bring diverse people together and can be a viable and organic vehicle for social change.
At the end of the day, Bree told me, a lot of Black people have never seen a Broadway show. As a matter of fact, her first non-musical Broadway experience was American Son, which starred Kerry Washington. Bree said it was great to see black actors and playwrights having opportunities she did not know existed. That’s why she was excited by the first cohort of BTC/BAA Theater Administration Fellows; excited to create opportunities for Black people who wanted to learn more about and carve out careers in commercial theater.
Bree believes the fellowship program will help to diversify Broadway, and the contributions of these future arts leaders will impact the theater industry in ways that are still to be imagined. She also hopes to continue to facilitate the production of Black stories being presented on Broadway, while encouraging multigenerational audiences to support those plays.
I am excited for Bree! She reaffirms my belief that the persistence and passion of youth is a necessary and vital force for social transformation. Bree’s life experiences, insights and thoughtfulness make her an invaluable asset to this program, as well as to the theatrical world.
And the potential impact of the BTC/BAA Theater Administration Fellowship is monumental! I applaud the audacity of BTC co-founders Reggie Van Lee, T. Oliver Reid and Warren Adams, who set a goal of increasing opportunities for all Black professionals in the theater industry by 500-percent within the next 10 years.
If you know of any college junior, senior or recent graduate who is considering a career in theater management, I urge you to encourage them to apply for the The BTC/BAA Theater Administration Fellowship. This is the link for the application. Once again, the deadline is September 30, 2022.