American Theatre Wing Launches Its National COVID-19 Response Effort

The American Theatre Wing has officially launched the first phase of its National COVID-19 Response Effort.

“When the arts get lost or diminished in the conversation about federal relief, we rely on the non-profit sector to ensure that a ‘full recovery’ includes the true pride of our nation: its cultural institutions and the artists that make them shine. This is just the first step in what will be a long road back, but it’s a vital one,” said American Theatre Wing President & CEO Heather Hitchens. “Providing relief during dark and difficult times is baked deeply into the Wing’s DNA and, just as we have since our founding in the midst of World War I, we will rise to the occasion and serve as a beacon of light and hope.”

The COVID-19 response effort is outlined below:


Over 90 Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions has left an untenable number of theater workers suddenly without work. The Wing, with the council and guidance of the Obie Awards’ Judges Panel (co-chaired by Obie-winning scenic designer Rachel Hauck and choreographer Sam Pinkleton), has created a $250,000 Theatre Artists Relief Fund in order to get money directly into the hands of artists. This fund, which is generously supported by the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust and the theatrical production company No Guarantees, will grant each of these artists $500 to help sustain them during this period of mandatory shutdowns.

To aid in distributing these funds, the Wing has created an online resource database which is striving to assemble a comprehensive list of each theater, production, freelance artist, technician, and theater worker affected by the shutdown. For more details click here.


Through the newly formed National Rapid Relief Fund, the Wing will be making immediate gifts, in the amount of $1,000, to each of the 82 prior recipients of the National Theatre Company Grants. For a complete list of eligible regional theaters, please visit


The Wing will be offering a new series of live masterclasses via Zoom and Facebook Live that will feature an array of top tier theater talent. Similarly, monthly meetings for the Wing’s The Network (formerly known as Theatre Intern Network – TIN), serving emerging leaders in the theatre, will move online. The digitization of these programs will instantly dissolve any geographic barriers, opening these resources to a national audience, while still providing developing industry professionals with advanced education, networking opportunities, and tools for career advancement within a supportive community.

More information about these online resources will be available shortly at

The Wing has also announced that the 65th Annual Obie Awards, originally scheduled to be held at Terminal 5 on Monday, May 18, will be postponed and will take place as a virtual event, with awards being handed out for shows that opened between May 1, 2019 and March 12, 2020. The Obie Awards will also shine a light on the loss of the productions that were in rehearsal and performance at the time the theaters closed. More details to follow.

Those wishing to support the Wing’s efforts to uphold the national theater community during this time of unprecedented need can make a donation by visiting

Photo: Getty