The Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program

The Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program restarted with the 2022/23 season, reclaiming its roots as a professional training program for individuals who are interested in contributing to a fuller representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals in the arts.

The goal of Arena Stage's fellowship program is to cultivate the next generation of BIPOC theater professionals by providing the highest standard of training through immersion in the art and business of producing theater. Successful candidates are highly motivated individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

The program offers personalized training and in-depth, hands-on experience with top-tier professionals in artistic and technical production, arts administration, arts education and community outreach. Additionally, all fellows receive:

  • Mentorship from Arena Stage staff members, including senior staff

The articulation of the great underlying themes of the American experience in our work demands artists, administrators, educators and audiences who are diverse in terms of ethnicity, socioeconomic background, age and gender. The Fellows program is critical to our quest to become the most robust theater in the country.” 


— Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith

Paige Hernandez - The Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program Alum
Jamil Jude - The Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program Alum
Otis Ramsey Zöe - The Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program Alum

2023/24 Season Fellowship Information

Timing: Seasonal fellowships are full time and require a dedication of 35-38 weeks. For the 23/24 Season, the fellowships start on September 5, 2023, and end in May 24, 2024.

Compensation: Weekly stipend of $600. Housing is not provided. 


Artistic Development
     Artistic Development Fellow

Arts Administration
     Development Fellow
     General and Company Management Fellow 
     Graphic Design Fellow (CLOSED)
     Marketing and Media Fellow (CLOSED)

Community Engagement
     Community Programs Fellow
     School Programs Fellow

     Lighting Fellow


Founding of Allen Lee Hughes Fellowships

In 1990, Arena Stage’s Founder and Artistic Director Zelda Fichandler and Artistic Associate Tazewell Thompson co-founded the theater’s fellowship program as part of Arena Stage’s cultural diversity program. These fellowships would provide the opportunity annually for culturally diverse candidates from around the country to apprentice at Arena Stage to both increase diversity in the theater field at large and increase diversity within Arena Stage as well.

The training program was named after Arena’s talented Associate Artist/Lighting Designer, Allen Lee Hughes, who started his career at Arena Stage in 1969 as an electrician. It was at Arena that Allen evolved from electrician to designer. 

Sources: Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship 10th Anniversary Program, New York Times, Tazewell Thompson

“We will break the cycle of exclusion and disengagement among our young people that keeps them from considering the theater as a realistic career option.”


— Zelda Fichandler, Founding Director

(L to R) Zelda Fichandler, Tazewell Thompson and Allen Lee Hughes 

Meet Allen Lee Hughes 

Allen Lee Hughes (far left), Fellowship alumni and friends of the program celebrate its 25th anniversary during the 2015/16 Season.


The Allen Lee Hughes BIPOC Fellowship Program is made possible by  and the Hearst Foundations. 

Arena Stage’s community engagement efforts are generously sponsored by Denie and Frank Weil; The Estate of Ms. Toni A. Ritzenberg; Joanne Barker; The Robert and Natalie Mandel Family Foundation; The Hearst Foundations; Comcast; The National Endowment for the Arts; Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.; Global Medical REIT; Alice Shaver Foundation; Venable Foundation; Theater Forward; GEICO; Hattie M. Strong Foundation; The Lois & Richard England Family Foundation; Friends of Southwest D.C.; Weissberg Foundation; and Actors’ Equity Foundation.