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New "T Fellowship" to Empower Creative Theater Producers

The T Fellowship honors the legacy of Broadway producer T. Edward Hambleton.

The Theater Arts Division of the School of the Arts and the University Arts Initiative has announced a one-of-a-kind fellowship program for theatrical producers. The T Fellowship was created to honor the legacy of Broadway producer T. Edward Hambleton by supporting and developing gifted, emerging theatrical producers.

This ambitious program is the result of a unique collaboration between Harold (Hal) Prince, a multiple TONY-winning Broadway producer and director, T. Edward Hambleton and the Theater Development Fund (TDF), the largest not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts in the country. TDF administers a range of audience development and financial assistance programs that encourage production of new plays and musicals, as well as the high-profile TKTSdiscount ticket booths in New York City.

This influential and visionary group, including Prince, Hambleton, Victoria Bailey (TDF executive director) along with TDF trustees Ed Wilson and the late Geraldine Stutz, designed the fellowship in cooperation with the Theater Division of the Columbia University School of the Arts (Bruce W. Ferguson, dean; Steven Chaikelson, chair of Theatre), and The Columbia Arts Initiative (Gregory Mosher, director).

Prince observed, "Costs have escalated, and producing is generally the work of either a consortium of wealthy individuals, or corporations. So, before it's too late, my colleagues and I have shaped a program with the help of Columbia University, to once again put young creative producing in the mainstream. I've always believed the best of Broadway is the best there is."

The T Fellowship will emphasize the creative producer's role as the instigator, collaborator and leader who gets art on the stage. While the T Fellowship will expose the fellows to the best contemporary producing practices, the program also will encourage independent thinking and new ideas about producing -- to empower new producers to "reinvent the wheel" themselves on their own terms, following their own tastes, in their own style.

Commenting on the fellowship's mission, Prince said, "For a number of years now, I have had interviews with extraordinary young people who want careers as creative producers. Because they love and want to be part of the commercial theater, they express frustration. They know my history as a producer before I became a director, and they have identified with the tasks of a creative producer. They want to nurture new work, encourage new artists, and take chances, and they recognize that the current climate on Broadway makes that almost impossible."

Tony award-winning producer/director Hal Prince is one of the principals who conceived and organized the T Fellowship.

Each year, the T Fellowship will select one or two SOA students to participate in a two-phase program. In the first phase, the fellows will be exposed to a wide range of contemporary theatrical producing practices and will have opportunities to discuss the shifting role of the creative producer. In the second phase, the fellows will produce a presentation of work they have developed.

The T Fellowship provides financial, legal and production support of the project development and presentation. The program is free to the fellows. In addition, a need-based stipend can be awarded to assist in covering living expenses. The application process begins this fall. The first fellow will be announced the following spring, to begin the fellowship in the fall of 2006.

"We're thrilled that this program has come to fruition," said Bailey. "T. Edward has worked tirelessly on behalf of TDF for nearly 20 years and this fellowship has been a dream of his for quite some time which he developed with other TDF trustees Gerry Stutz and Ed Wilson."

The T Fellowship will draw on working professionals in the field as well as the extraordinary academic and cross disciplinary strengths that Columbia University offers, including its MFA program in Theatre Management and Producing.

Chaikelson said: "The T Fellowship intersects perfectly with our MFA program in Theatre Management and Producing and our mission to educate and inspire creative managers and producers for the commercial and not-for-profit theatre. In addition, through seminars and conferences sponsored by the Fellowship, our graduate students will have access to one-of-a-kind opportunities to interact with the best, brightest and most innovative members of the New York theatre community."

Mosher said, "T.'s contribution to the theatre is immeasurable, and I am grateful to have known him and his work since I was a young student. The Columbia University Arts Initiative is delighted to join with Hal, TDF and our colleagues in the School of the Arts to honor T in the most meaningful way, by reinvigorating the creative producing spirit and expertise he exemplified."

Published: Aug 10, 2005
Last modified: Aug 15, 2005

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