The American Theatre Wing Gala honors Andrew Lloyd Webber on September 24, 2018 , at Cipriani 42. Performers include: Sierra Bogggess Brandon Victor Dixon Katrina Lenk Norm Lewis Alex Newell School of Rock original cast Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative Scholars Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger.

The American Theatre Wing has announced a $1M donation and matching challenge from the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust in support of its Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative (ALWI), a program created in 2016 with seed funding from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to catalyze systemic change in the American Theatre by infusing new resources into the theatre ecosystem that bolster the pipeline for historically under-represented talent – on stage and off.

Through this Initiative, the American Theatre Wing seeks to directly address several key systemic issues that create obstacles in the education and training pipeline, and which have contributed to the creation of a less equitable and less diverse American theatre.  These include lack of access to theatre among school-aged children due to poor arts infrastructure in under-resourced public schools, inequitable access to out-of-school training for middle- and high-school aged students from low-income families, lack of tuition support for college-bound students, and lack of mentoring and support for young professionals from marginalized communities.

In just four years, the ALWI has…

  • Provided an introduction to theatre to nearly 45,000 students at 42 Title 1 schools across the nation.
  • Provided full scholarships to 93 under-represented middle-school and high-schoolers to receive advanced theatre training in out-of-school programs with concentrations ranging from production design, acting, musical theatre composition, choreography, and stage management.
  • Provided university tuition support and mentoring opportunities to 23 university students majoring in theatre nationwide.

In announcing this new gift and matching challenge, American Theatre Wing President & CEO Heather Hitchens stated, “The pathway towards systemic change that the ALWI promises is now coming into focus as young people provided with in-school theatre programs advance to become ALWI training scholars, training scholars advance to be University Scholars, and University scholars begin to graduate into positions in the field.  I am extremely grateful to the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust for their generous past support of this Initiative and for their latest extraordinary commitment and vote of confidence.”

On behalf of the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust Pamela Barbey added, “My family and I are passionate about closing the gap between talent and opportunity.  It has been thrilling to be a founding funder of this Initiative and to have had a front row seat in helping sow the seeds of change.  It is very clear to me that with additional investment, the tested slate of programs that make up the ALWI have the potential to jumpstart generational change, and pave the way for a long-term transformation of the theatre industry.  It is my great hope that others who share my desire to see this change will come on board and help provide the additional investment needed to ensure the full realization of this important goal.”

The matching challenge seeks to raise an additional $1M over the next two years. With this expanded support, by 2025 the American Theatre Wing will be able to reach 75 public schools and 60,000 K-12 students, provide 125 students with training scholarships, help send 25 high school seniors to university to study theatre and theatre administration, and through mentoring opportunities pave the way for an infusion of hundreds of new and diverse theatre professionals into the theatre industry.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative is just one way in which ATW is working to achieve a more diverse and equitable American theatre.  Equity and inclusion are guiding principles of our Organization and all of our programming and initiatives.  In addition, together with the Asian American Performers Action Coalition and Counting Together, a coalition of researchers and activists, we are helping lead a data collection effort on race, gender, and disability in the theatre in order to forge new pathways to greater equity and inclusion.

To learn more about the Barbey Matching Challenge and how you can help and

for more detailed information about this program, past recipients, how to apply