ATCA Announces Helbing Mentorship Program

ATCA Announces Helbing Mentorship Program

NEW YORK–The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) and Foundation ATCA have announced the creation of a mentorship program for LGBTQIA+ writers. Named for the late Terry Helbing, a pioneer in Gay Theater during the 1970s and 1980s, the program has been designed to encourage the development of LGBTQIA+ theater coverage. The year-long program will begin in September 2022, and includes a $5,000 grant and the opportunity to work with leading writers who are ATCA members. The goal is also to secure publishing for the participant.

In its statement about the program, ATCA said, “In honor of the late Terry Helbing, theater critic, editor, and co-founder of the Meridian Gay Theatre Production Company, the program has been designed to develop and amplify the voices of young LGBTQIA+ arts writers through scholarship, mentorship, and professional development. In this way, we aim to make arts journalism a more progressive and inclusive profession.”

In addition, ATCA hopes to encourage the recipient to work in multiple media–writing, audio, and video–to reflect the full spectrum of arts coverage in the contemporary market. Mentors from ATCA will work directly with the recipient on projects.

ATCA will begin accepting applications and nominations for this program in early 2022. For more information about the program and applications, visit the program page.

About Terry Helbing

Terry Helbing was born on May 21, 1951, and grew up in East Dubuque, Illinois. He began working and acting in Theater in 1966, and Gay Theater in 1973. He graduated from Emerson College in 1973 with a BA in Dramatic Arts and acted in Boston and New England with the touring company of Jonathan Ned Katz’s “Coming Out.” Mr. Helbing served as Managing Editor of The Drama Review for four years beginning in 1977 and contributed to many theatrical and gay and lesbian publications, including “The Advocate” and “TheaterWeek”. He was theater editor at “New York Native” from 1981 until his death, and he contributed a weekly theater news column at “Stonewall News”.

In 1979, he was founder and publisher of the JH Press (named for his father, John Helbing), which became the drama division of the Gay Presses of NY. GPNY was also started by Helbing in conjunction with Felice Picano and Larry Mitchell in 1982 and they published Harvey Fierstein’s successful “Torch Song Trilogy”, among others. In addition, he cofounded the Gay Theatre Alliance, an international organization dedicated to the growth of gay theatre by connecting theater companies and playwrights through a quarterly newsletter. He served as President of the organization and edited the “Gay Theatre Alliance Directory of Gay Plays”. Helbing also played in a gay bowling league.

Helbing co-founded the Meridian Gay Theatre Production Company in 1983 with Terry Miller and together they produced plays and musicals with gay and lesbian themes. The Meridian’s most immediate parent was The Glines (founded in 1976 by John Glines), which was an off-off Broadway theatre and Production Company. The Glines was turned over to Helbing and Miller and, through a generous grant, they started the Meridian which became the only continuously operating gay theatre with a home base on the East Coast. Helbing became Artistic Director but was largely responsible in all areas. The Company moved into the Shandol Theatre at 137 W. 22nd Street and produced a number of plays including “Stray Dog Story” by Robert Chesley and “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove” by Jane Chambers. They initiated a Playwrights and Directors Series which featured staged readings of new plays and they sponsored a national gay playwriting contest every year. Terry Helbing passed away from AIDS on March 28, 1994, in New York City.


Christopher Byrne
Helbing Committee Chair

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