The KCACTF/LORT ASPIRE Leadership Fellows Program is designed to cultivate a new generation of artistic and administrative leaders for the American Theater with a focus of engaging Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and members of other groups that are consistently underrepresented in the field. This diverse national cohort of fellows assembled from all of KCACTF’s eight regions will engage in topics concerning equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism as well as leadership skills building, investigation of institutional challenges, and professional networking opportunities.

This week-long fellowship occurs as part of the annual national convening of the American College Theater Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The curriculum is designed and led by professionals from LORT institutions in partnership with staff from the Kennedy Center and the American College Theatre Festival Regional Chairs.

For more information about the ASPIRE program and the application process, please contact LORT EDI Co-Chair Kelvin Dinkins, Jr. (General Manager, Yale Repertory Theatre, or Stefanie Sertich (KCACTF National ASPIRE Coordinator,

A week of opportunities at the national festival

One student from Region III nationally (as well as a small number of participants fromn the virtual cohort) will be selected to attend the National Festival in April, where they will join selected participants from other regions in a dynamic, week-long program exploring leadership in the performing arts. Participants will take part in special sessions examining equity, diversity and inclusion in our field — while gaining multiple perspectives on the full range of performing arts leadership challenges. The experience will provide valuable professional networking opportunities as well.

ASPIRE Regional Festival 2024

Students interested in the world of arts leadership are encouraged to register for this program. Whether you hope to become an artistic leader or you are curious about how theaters operate, ASPIRE is a fantastic festival opportunity, and 2024 offers us the opportunity to connect both virtually and in-person with fellow theater artists and leaders from across the country. ASPIRE Arts Leadership programming will include workshops and discussions curated by all of KCACTF’s ASPIRE Regional Coordinators, National ASPIRE Chair Stefanie Sertich and the National ASPIRE team.

In 2024, there are two ways to participate in the KCACTF/LORT ASPIRE Arts Leadership program: in-person at your Regional Festival, or virtually via Zoom on March 2nd/3rd. (The latter option is intended for students who are not able to attend their Regional Festival or whose schools do not participate in KCACTF.)

How to participate in the program at the regional festival

The ASPIRE program is an opportunity for students at all levels of experience who are interested in theatre arts leadership. Enrolled undergraduate or graduate students who are at least part-time at the time of the creation/completion of the project may apply. We encourage applications from students of color, women, and members of other groups that are consistently underrepresented in the field. Others may also apply.


Virtual ASPIRE Arts Leadership Event

The virtual ASPIRE Arts Leadership program will include seven hours of gatherings on Zoom—not counting time participants spend creating their individual final presentations.

The schedule is as follows:

Saturday March 2, 2024 2:00 – 5:30PM EST
Sunday March 3, 2024 2:00 – 5:30PM EST

Final Presentations and Feedback
March 8 and 9, 2024 –  Each student will have one 30-minute slot to be scheduled with the coordinator

Register Here 


National ASPIRE Arts Leadership Cohort

One fellow from each region as well as a small number of participants from the virtual cohort will be selected to join the National ASPIRE Arts Leadership cohort in Washington, D.C. for a week-long fellowship. 

Applicants for the ASPIRE Arts Leadership Program are evaluated based on potential and interest to:

  • Create and articulate an artistic or administrative vision.
  • Lead and inspire others.
  • Collaborate with all members of a team.
  • Engage within the community at large.
  • Think outside the box and innovate.
  • Articulate the theatre’s role and relevance in global diversity and current events.

For more information on the final presentation, click here

Attend a roundtable discussion with a panel of professional artistic and administrative leaders of theatre companies on topics concerning equity, diversity, and inclusion, leadership skills building, institutional challenges, and professional networking opportunities.


ASPIRE students will create and pitch a theatrical season and/or a new theater company to a selectors panel of theatre professionals. Students are welcome to consider the current impact of COVID-19 on the performing arts industry. However, the current pandemic should not limit the student’s imagination in the creation of their company. This exercise will prepare ASPIRE students to think critically about leadership styles, programming, and models while demonstrating the student’s ability to think outside the box. The following is a set of recommended guidelines to help prepare an effective pitch:

  • Students have 10 minutes to present their pitch followed by 5 minutes to take questions from the selectors; students will be responsible for allocating their own time accordingly.
  • The presentation must include the name of the theater company, the mission of the theater company, where the theater company or theatrical season will take place (town, city, state, country), and play titles/authors (if known).
  • Students are invited to be as innovative, creative, and practical as possible in their presentations and should pitch a compelling theatrical season/theater company using whatever resources are available to them.
  • Students should articulate the role and relevance of their season and/or new theater company in terms of audience, community, and efforts towards greater diversity.
  • Students should be mindful that while budgets, season calendars, and other higher-level elements of a theatre’s operations are important, the allotted time does not provide the selectors a chance to review these materials critically. Emphasis on mission, values, season selection, and on audience and community engagement is strongly encouraged.
  • Students are encouraged to work independently and consider all the elements of producing and theater management necessary to support a theatrical season or theater company’s vision and infrastructure.
  • Any handouts provided for the pitch must have enough copies for each selector.
  • Any AV/tech/projector needs should be cleared and tested in advance of the pitch.
  • Students must also provide a bio of up to 150 words for the interview


The selectors will be evaluating pitches based on the student’s ability to effectively communicate a vision, demonstrate knowledge of theatre and arts management, and incorporate audience and community values into their mission. The finalists chosen by the selectors will move on to the second round of ASPIRE interviews to select one finalist to join the ASPIRE weeklong fellowship at KCACTF in Washington, D.C.

Following the pitch round, the guest respondents will deliberate and choose students to invite to the final interview round.

Respondents at the centralized event will select one student from Region 3 to attend the ASPIRE Leadership Intensive at the National Festival in Washington, D.C. in April.

How to Apply

Apply to participate in the Region 3 ASPIRE Leadership Intensive below. Applications must be submitted on or before December 20, 2023. Students will be notified of their acceptance into the regional ASPIRE intensive by December 30.

The application should include:

  1. Your mission, vision, values statements for your theatre company
  2. Your statement of leadership philosophy.
  3. Your inaugural season slate of four productions along with a statement of why they fit your vision.
  4. Your equity, diversity, and inclusion plan 
Dinesh Yadav

Dinesh Yadav

ASPIRE Coordinator; Design Storm

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Associate Professor of Theatre and Technical Director
Theatre and Dance
215-Studio Arts
2420 Nicolet Drive
Green Bay, 54311 WI, USA
920 -465-2441

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