Fund for Diversity in Theater

The Weissberg Foundation’s 2016-2019 Fund for Diversity in Theater is a $1,000,000 commitment to engage and expand new voices and audiences in a DC-area based program. This initiative includes financial and capacity building support to selected grantees and shared learning with the broader theater and philanthropic communities. The selection process was completed in the summer of 2016, and the fund is currently closed to new applicants.

After a highly competitive request for proposal and proposal review process, the foundation selected six theaters to receive grant funding and compose the cohort of grantees for this pilot program. Each of these theaters demonstrates a deep commitment to strengthen their governance, operations, and programming to advance diversity on stage, in audiences, and behind the scenes.

Fund for Diversity in Theater Grantees

Learn more about our Diversity in Theater Grantees.

Why Diversity in Theater?

We believe in the power of theater to enhance our humanity, stir us to action, and connect us to each other while simultaneously entertaining us. However, along with many who care about theater and social justice, we are concerned about the current demographics of theater—from boards to staff to audiences—and what this portends for the future vibrancy of theaters and the communities in which they exist. There are many perspectives currently underrepresented on and behind our stages.

Goals & Outcomes

Through the Fund for Diversity in Theater, the Weissberg Foundation seeks to accomplish the following:

  • Engage and expand new voices and audiences in Washington-area theater so it is more accessible, inspiring, and compelling to a broad range of theatergoers now and in the future.
  • Nurture an honest, self-examining community of theater leaders who will be open and committed to working together to share learning and ideas for increasing diversity on stage, in audiences, and behind the scenes.
  • Scan the landscape of, support, and learn hand-in-hand with local theaters engaged in diversity work to inform our foundation’s own grantmaking, governance, and operations.
  • Share lessons learned and best practices generated throughout this initiative with the broader theater community and our peers in philanthropy.

Focus on Learning and Collaboration

The Weissberg Foundation approaches the Fund for Diversity in Theater as an opportunity for learning and collaboration for our grantees, the broader theater community, the foundation, and our peers in philanthropy. This has included consulting with colleagues in the design of the grant initiative, engaging external reviewers in the proposal review process, seeking feedback from grant applicants on that process, and working hand-in-hand with grantees to design convenings.

To nurture a community of theater leaders committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion, we convene the grantee cohort 2-3 times each year of the grant term to discuss tools, achievements, challenges, and ideas for their work. We will also explore ways to share the learnings surfaced and build on the connections sparked through the convenings with the larger DC-area theater community.

To help build our library of resources related to diversity in theater, visit our resources page and suggest additional ones.

For more information about the Weissberg Foundation’s Fund for Diversity in Theater, please contact Amanda O’Meara at aomeara@weissbergfoundation.org.