Who Are We - And What Must We Grow Into?

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In September of 2009, David Snider, then President of the League of Washington Theatres, approached us with an idea that had been circulating among managing directors of many of our constituent theaters. The idea: that the organization currently known as The Helen Hayes Awards become the unified voice of Washington theatre.

Leaders of Washington theatres ardently felt that there should be one entity to robustly support, promote, and strengthen Washington theatre.  provide marketing and advocacy support to all area theatres.  We then met with about 20 managing directors to better understand why they wanted this to happen and what, if anything, would they be willing to do to help make it happen.  Following that conversation, we decided to embark on a journey to evolve this organization into one that not only addressed that request but would in fact create dazzling possibilities for Washington Theatre and Theatre Audiences.

As an organization, The Helen Hayes Awards has always been about more than a single annual event. Throughout our history, we have:

  • consistently promoted and advanced Washington-area professional theatre;
  • provided unassailable data that objectively demonstrate the strength and vitality of the region’s professional theatre community;
  • made performance information readily available to potential ticket buyers and, in the process, increased revenues for individual theaters; and
  • supported initiatives that help – and opposed proposals that would harm – theatres, artists, and audiences.

The Helen Hayes Awards has played a key role in developing the significance of Washington professional theatre while helping to build our community. And so, with 27 years of success, credibility, and reputation, the organization is now uniquely positioned to begin a new chapter for theatre in greater Washington.

And this new chapter will affect everything beginning with our organizational name and brand (although our signature Awards program will always remain The Helen Hayes Awards and extending to our communications, governance, programming, staffing, and funding.It will involve creating an entirely new business model that will address the unique and specific needs of the Washington theatre community and the scope of our work.

Without question, the most critical component of this process will be the voices, the involvement and the support of theatre artists, professionals and audiences. So please consider this an invitation to share your thoughts, your counsel, and your advice.  Just email us at tellhelen@theatrewashington.org. All suggestions may not be implemented - but they WILLbe considered. Feel free to check back every now and then to get an update on this collaborative odyssey. Clearly it’s an enormous undertaking but one we relish