Good News! The 2023/24 Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program Application Deadline has been extended to March 24!

The Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program restarted with Arena Stage’s 2022/23 Season, reclaiming its roots as a professional training program for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals in the arts. The goal of the program is to cultivate the next generation of BIPOC theater professionals by providing the highest standard of training through immersion in the art and business of producing theater. Applications are now being accepted for next season’s class through March 24.

Watch this video to hear some of our current Fellows on the highlights of their Arena experience (transcript below, edited for clarity).

Why should people apply for the Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship?

Fabian Rodriguez, Development Fellow: Because you get to work with good people and meet peers who are like-minded. You also get the opportunity to see behind the scenes of an organization like Arena. You get to see how all the things operate.

Kayla Warren, School Programs Fellow: I get to work with professionals who are dedicated to my success and that’s always a good place to work.

Kris Ingle, Graphic Design Fellow: I think any organization that openly supports people of color and their success is good, in my book.

Hayley Garcia Parnell, Lighting Fellow: I don’t think I could have experienced that level of care and mentorship anywhere else. It truly is a perfect stepping stone in your career. Especially fresh out of college, it will not only build your confidence and technical competency tenfold, but will also supply you with mentors and other valuable connections in this industry.

The 2022/23 Season Fellows on a Scavenger Hunt.

Why did you choose to do your Fellowship at Arena?

Kayla: I went to Howard and I had a lot of opportunities to come to Arena and they were all positive experiences. I also realized that a lot of professionals that I admired and looked up to (in the field) were in some way connected to Arena. So, at that point, I realized that a position at Arena would be a beneficial stepping stone for my career.

Hayley: I chose to do the Fellowship because it felt like the perfect bridge between undergrad and my career as a lighting designer. Additionally, I had studied Allen Lee Hughes’ work in college, and was eager to be a part of his legacy as a designer of color.

Bianca Peña, Media Relations Fellow: I initially applied because BIPOC is a very big thing for me. I’m originally from San Antonio, Texas, and then I came over here to the DMV. Working here at Arena is something that is such a milestone for me, because I am working alongside people that support people of color and actually want us to succeed and are giving us opportunities to do that, and I thought that was really cool.

Marketing Fellow Jordan Brown with Marketing Assistant Imani Pugh at Ride the Cyclone Special Event, Anti-Prom. Photo by Jarrett Hendrix.

What is your favorite part of being a Fellow at Arena?

Fabian: I think my favorite part is getting to see the shows here and getting to interact with the patrons. I get to speak to the donors and hear their thoughts on what we do versus the thoughts of people that work here to build the season. Hearing both sides about how people feel about the work is intriguing.

Kris: I went to school in DC… It helped me maintain a theater community that’s in this area specifically. I think it’s important to be a part of a community that’s local.

Jordan Brown, Marketing Fellow: I think my favorite part is my mentors are so dedicated to giving me any sort of experience that I want or any kind of need that I want.

Hayley: My absolute favorite part of Arena is the people! Everyone is kind and fun to be around and I always feel respected as an equal despite being younger than most employees here.

Kayla: I will say one of my favorite parts of my Fellowship is working with children and Arena has many long standing relationships with a lot of DC public schools. Arena’s commitment to having great relationships with DC public schools has allowed me to have all of these amazing experiences with students.

How have your coworkers enhanced your experience?

Jordan: I think I wouldn’t have been able to get where I was, even in this Fellowship without someone helping me, or for someone to give me a second perspective on things. I’m confident in my abilities, however, I know that I’m still learning, and so it’s great that we have people that come from different backgrounds where they’re able to give me that second perspective and also say, “Hey, this isn’t coming off the way you think it is.” So, I really value that constructive criticism and direction.

Bianca: I feel like that it’s not only the people in your department helping you, it’s the entire building because you see somebody from a different department every day and I feel like it’s more than your supervisor or your manager, it’s also the other Fellows in other departments who are leading you and I guess just pushing you to do what you want and what you need in order to succeed. I feel like working with Jordan and Kristopher in the same department has helped a lot as well because we kind of intertwine and jump ideas off of each other and that helps us not only grow, but our creativity is just flowing nonstop.

Jordan: One thing I also noticed is that: any other department I’ll go to is willing and eager to help. I’ll go into the costuming department and they’re like “Oh, it’s Jordan! It’s the Marketing Fellow; what can we do for you? How can we help you?” And I don’t think that a lot of other people would do that. So I just appreciate that eagerness.

Hayley: My mentors have also been a great support here. Chris and Paul (Lighting Supervisor, Assistant Lighting Supervisor) are always nearby to answer questions, give advice (about both theater and life in the city), and give me feedback on how I can improve every day. Robert (Director of Production) helps me plot next steps, and is a helpful sounding board as I look to future goals. Each designer has also had something to offer me about the industry, skill improvements, next steps, and so much more. The support I have received from my mentors here has been overwhelming, and I cannot recommend the Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship enough.

How has the Fellowship prepared you for the future?

Jordan: I think from this point now, I know how to handle situations of stress, and I also know how to carry myself with a certain knowledge and experience: talking about marketing aspects, talking about vocabulary… With the portfolio that I’ve built, I think I can go to any other theater and have a very good chance of being accepted.

Hayley: By the end of my time at Arena, I will have assisted seven professional lighting designers who have helped me grow tremendously as an artist and a professional in an environment where it was safe to fail, in addition to having a wonderful team of supervisors to support me through every stumbling block. This Fellowship has prepared me to confidently join the industry and demystified a lot of the professional design process. Additionally, I have felt significantly challenged on a weekly basis, whether it be working with conflicting personalities, doctoring particularly messy drafting, or tracking cues in complicated shows; I’ve never felt stagnant in this position.

We encourage you to take advantage of the deadline extension Applications for 2023/24 Fellowships in Lighting, School Programs, Community Programs, Development, and General and Company Management, are being accepted through March 24. Visit here to apply.