-Do you have any tips on applying to the program?
Yes.  See the video with tips on applying at https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=206059459430831.  While this is from a past season so the dates mentioned are incorrect, the advice on applying is still valid and valuable.
-If I am not a Member of SDC, do I have less chance of an Observership?
Absolutely not!  SDC Foundation is a separate organization from the Union and the majority of our applicants and Observers have no SDC affiliation.  Union membership has no bearing on either the evaluation or selection processes.
-If I am accepted into the Observership Pool, am I an Associate Member of SDC?
No.  If you complete an Observership and you are not already an Associate Member of SDC, we will forward your information to SDC and the SDC Membership Department will send you the application for a free one year SDC Associate Membership.
-Since this program is flexible, why can I not miss some rehearsals?
In order to be a part of the team and to gain a full understanding of the process, it is essential to be present for the entire production process.  Additionally, it can be disruptive to rehearsal to have people absent or entering rehearsal anytime but at the beginning of the day.
-If I am accepted into the Observership Pool, how long am I committed to this program?
Accepted candidates are eligible for all Observership opportunities that start rehearsal by June 30, 2014.  However, you are free to do as you choose during this time frame, and you will only apply to those opportunities that suit your interest and schedule.  We understand that most applicants have many projects and jobs requiring differing time commitments.  This is a flexible program that can fit with the rest of your life.  If you apply and are selected for a project, your commitment is from first rehearsal (and sometime some pre-production) through opening night.  This is typically a period of four to twelve weeks.  You should not have any conflicts with the rehearsal or preview schedule on your project.
-If I am accepted into the Observership Pool, do I need to move to New York?
No!  We have opportunities all over the country in addition to opportunities in New York.  If you apply and are selected for an opportunity in NY, you will need to be in NY only for the length of the project.
-Will I be the assistant on the production?
Observers are not usually the assistant.  When we know the Observer will be the assistant, we say that in the opportunity posting.  Oftentimes, there is already an assistant on the production.  As an Observer, you are guaranteed to be allowed to observe the creative process from first rehearsal to opening night.  The mentoring artist may or may not give you some responsibilities or tasks throughout the production period.  Observing itself is an effective way to learn.
-A theatre has hired me to direct a production, but there is no money for my assistant. Can I hire my assistant as an Observer on the production?
This program is about access, so we will not provide funding to hire your assistant.  If you would like to have an Observer on the production, great!  We will announce the opportunity to those accepted into the Observership pool, and from those who are interested, we will select finalists for you.  From these finalists, you can interview candidates and select your Observer.
-A director/choreographer who I have been trying to work with for years says (s)he will hire me as an assistant but does not have funding for me. Can I do this through the Observership program so that I can afford to do this?
See above.  Unfortunately, we do not have the funding to fund other opportunities, and a key component of the Observership Program is open access to all candidates.  We do not provide funding for selection outside of our opportunities.
-I’d like to work on a specific production coming up. How should I set up this Observership?
Please do not contact us with a proposed production – this is not the way the program works.  Candidates cannot set Observerships up.  We select Observerships by committee, with an eye towards arranging a certain mix of opportunities: musicals, plays; classics, revivals, and new works; NYC, NY state, and across the U.S.; first-time mentors and former mentors; opportunities for directors, choreographers, and director/choreographers.   Additionally, open access to all candidates is a key element of this program to ensure that the program is not about connections, so no one can be pre-selected, and almost all Observers are unknown to the mentor prior to the Observership.
-Why are there two application dates?
We have two application dates because some of our opportunities begin very early in July, so selection must take place in June.  Having an early opportunity deadline encourages early application without denying participation to those who are transitioning (to professional life from school, to a new city, etc.) and unable to apply by June 1.  Additionally, in the past, when we had one application date, we refrained from many summer opportunities, but this is actually when many candidates are most available for taking an Observership.  And finally, with a small staff to process more than 300 applications prior to evaluation by professional directors and choreographers (and with many other programs running consecutively – explore our other programs on our website!), having two deadlines makes the program administration more manageable and waiting time shorter for applicants.
-When can I start to apply for opportunities?
As soon as we contact you to say that we’ve started to process your application.  Those who apply by June 1 (postmark) will be able to apply to summer Observerships.  Those who apply by the program deadline of July 31 will be able to apply to opportunities beginning in September.  Applicants may apply to all opportunities until they are told whether they are accepted into the pool or not.  Because the applications take six to eight weeks to process and we must get underway immediately on next season, we allow those early applicants to begin applying before their applications have gone to our committee.
-I have applied in the past. Do I need to submit a new letter of recommendation?
If you applied with a new letter of recommendation to last season, you do not need to submit a new letter of recommendation.  If you applied last year or any other year with a recommendation that was not new, or if you have never applied before, you need to submit a new letter of recommendation.  Letters of recommendation are only good for two years.
-I do not have any high-level contacts in this industry. Who should I get to recommend me to this program?
This program is not about who you know, so please do not struggle in trying to find someone to impress us.  Obtain a letter of recommendation from someone who can attest to the fact that you are pursuing directing or choreography as a career path, someone who knows your work as an artist.  A teacher, an actor or dancer you’ve worked with, a mentor, a designer – these are all good options as recommenders.   A recommendation from someone who knows you, your work, and your work ethic is what we’re looking for, not a successful friend of a friend.
-I applied to the program last year. Do I need to apply again?
Yes.  Application is valid for one season only, for opportunities from July 1 through June 30.