Please read this entire page BEFORE contacting the Foundation.
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.
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 have applied in the past. Do I need to submit a new letter of recommendation?
Yes. Please submit a new letter of recommendation every year you apply.
Can my letter of recommendation be sent separately from the rest of my application?
Yes, but since recommenders can submit online, this shouldn’t be necessary.
When can I start to apply for opportunities?
Applicants accepted to the Observership class may apply to all opportunities for that Observership year, so as soon as you are accepted.
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 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.
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.
Will I be the assistant on the production?
It is possible to be an assistant on a production, but at its core this program is about observing. That said, when a mentoring artist tells us up front an 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. 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.
If I am accepted into the Observership class, 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. We offer a travel stipend to all our Observers to help offset travel and housing costs.
If I am accepted into the Observership class, how long am I committed to this program?
Accepted candidates are eligible for all Observership opportunities for their Observership year. 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.
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 process. Additionally, it can be disruptive to rehearsal to have people absent or entering rehearsal at all times of the day.
If I am accepted into the Observership class, 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.
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.
Do you have any tips on applying to the program?
Be specific. Articulate clearly why you are a director or choreographer, and why the opportunities provided through the Observerhip program will support you at this stage of your career.
For Potential Mentors:
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, we will announce the opportunity to those in our current Observership Class, and from those who are interested, we will select finalists for you. To get the process of posting an Observerhip opportunity, please contact Program Associate Elishia Merricks at email@example.com. It’s always best to email as soon as you have a project lined up so we have ample time to set up an Observership opportunity with you.
I’m a producer and need funding to hire an assistant director or choreographer.
Observers are not assistants. We love producers and think having them invested in the Observership process is great, but the most successful Observership opportunities are set up directly through the mentoring directors and choreographers.