Silas James Selected For USITT Gateway Program

A recent graduate (December, 2016) Silas James has been selected to participate in the 2017 USITT Gateway Program. This program and the USITT Diversity Initiative are committed to expanding diversity within the performing arts by focusing on mentorships for designers, technicians, and managers. This is the second year in a row that a Cornish College of the Arts Performance Production student has been selected for this honor.

Silas James will attend the USITT 57th Annual Conference & Stage Expo in St. Louis, MO March 8 - 11, 2017 as part of the USITT Gateway Program. Participants are teamed up with a mentor from the professional theater industry during the Conference and attend various events and panel discussions centered around issues of Diversity and Inclusion. James is one of a dozen students receiving support through the Gateway Program. As part of this program, he will receive a USITT annual membership, travel to the conference, and hotel accommodation.

Silas graduated with dual concentrations in costume and scenic design. He was the scene designer for Quixote: Book One and Argonautika, both produced in the Cornish Playhouse. He also designed costumes for Cornish Dance Theater. Silas was nominated for the Gateway program by Performance Production Department Chair, Denise Martel.  Also attending this year’s conference are Martel, Tom Harper, Interim Core in Technical Direction, Prop and Paint shop supervisor Jessica Christensen ‘13, Pinky Estell ‘07, who was recently named the Director of the Cornish Playhouse, and Nina Bice, president of the Cornish USITT student chapter.

Last year, Shelby Choo ‘16 participated in the Gateway initiative while she was a Senior at Cornish.

The United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc. (USITT) was founded in 1960 as an organization to promote dialogue, research, and learning among practitioners of theater design and technology. Today it has grown to include members at all levels of their careers and has embraced the new technologies being used in entertainment.  USITT is now the leader in life-long learning opportunities for the entertainment design and technology industry.

In 2014, USITT launched the Gateway Program with three students who were paired with professionals from the industry. An additional commitment of $25,000 by the USITT Board of Directors was used to cover expenses and create the seed money for the sustainability of the program. In 2015 USITT expanded the mentorship program to 12 mentees from underrepresented populations to attend and be mentored at the USITT National Conference. Six of these were fully funded (travel, housing and conference) and six received partnered support between USITT and the school or organization who has nominated the candidate. Underrepresented populations include, but are not limited to: race, gender, sexual orientation/identity, or disability. This program will be continued at future conferences.