Rising Leaders of Color


The Rising Leaders of Color program is no longer accepting applications for the 2023 round.

Deadline (extended): Sunday, March 12, 2023 at 11:59pm ET.

Watch: Info Session


In 2023, RLC will form a cohort of three exceptionally talented early-career journalists and critics of color who are committed to uplifting the stories of BIPOC and Black theatres, Indigenous theatres and all other Theatres of Color (BITOC); upholding equitable practices in the U.S. theatre field; and who demonstrate the potential to impact the theatre field in a positive way.

Embedded in
TCG’s mission and vision is a long-range goal to transform the national theatre field into a more equitable, inclusive and diverse community. TCG is committed to centering Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), Transgender and Gender Nonconforming and Disability communities. Through its programs and services, TCG is actively addressing and eliminating the structural barriers preventing BIPOC from thriving to their full potential.

TCG strongly believes that improving equity, diversity and inclusion in the U.S. theatre field is essential to the vitality of theatre as an art form. To that end, TCG is fully committed to supporting a wide range of aesthetics, perspectives, organizational sizes and structures as well as celebrating all areas of identity, including: gender, race/ethnicity, nation of origin, class, age, ability, sexual orientation and religion/spirituality.

In the wake of the 2020 civil unrest and the following examination of racial inequities in all U.S. sectors, theatres were charged with enacting changes within their staff and on stages. There has been a dramatic insurgence in the number of commissions, workshops and productions developed and led by BIPOC, but there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of journalists and critics who have the cultural competencies to engage with the work on its own artistic or political terms. Further, BIPOC writers are necessary to incisively reference the cultural lineage and legacy of BIPOC theatre makers.

BIPOC journalists and critics are the key to unlocking meaning in work created by BIPOC theatre makers that may not be seen otherwise. A robust dialogue between BIPOC critics and BIPOC theatre makers generates a more vibrant theatre ecosystem where BIPOC audiences can see their truths, complexities and questions voiced. BIPOC journalists, like all artists, grow by doing and need expanded long-form outlets, beyond the short-form of social media, to fully voice their investigations and interpretations. Equally valuable are opportunities for BIPOC journalists and critics to uncover aesthetic, cultural and political meaning in work created by other cultures.

Program support

Funding for Rising Leaders of Color activities is supported in part by Howard Gilman Foundation and Walt Disney Imagineering.


Howard Gilman believed in the power of the arts to transform lives. The Howard Gilman Foundation honors his legacy by supporting the most robust, innovative, and promising performing arts organizations in New York City.

Walt Disney Imagineering is the creative engine that designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions, and cruise ships worldwide, and oversees the creative aspects of Disney games, merchandise product development, and publishing businesses.

Past support for the Rising Leaders of Color program has included The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Knight Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) of St. Louis, and the Weissberg Foundation.

Past participants

A complete list of past participants of the Rising Leaders of Color program can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Raksak Kongseng (she/they) at rkongseng@tcg.org.

RLC embraces the broadest range of models and methods for theatre-making and understands that theatres are not uniform in aesthetic, approach, context, structure or delivery. At its core, theatre is an expressive and collaborative art form using any combination of words, voice, movement, media and visual elements to convey an idea, emotion or feeling.

BIPOC are terms used here for solidarity purposes representing a multiplicity of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. We acknowledge that the terms “BITOC” and “BIPOC” are imperfect, not universally embraced by many who identify as People of Color and/or People of the Global Majority, and that language is in a constant state of reimagination and redefinition. For reference, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color represent over 80% of the global population. It is possible that during the program period, the language may shift again.