Helbing Mentorship Program

The Helbing Mentorship Program

ATCA is committed to encouraging and developing new talent, promoting diversity among theater writers, and working to make arts journalism a more progressive and inclusive profession.


The Helbing Mentorship Program has been designed to promote and amplify the voices of young LGBTQIA+ arts writers through scholarship, mentorship, and professional development. The Program, established in 2021, is a year-long mentorship to support the work of a theater writer. The program has been funded by ATCA members and others who seek to honor the memory of ATCA member and LGBTQIA+ pioneer Terry Helbing (1951-1994), a theater critic, editor, and co-founder of the Meridian Gay Theatre Production Company.

The ATCA Helbing Fellow will create a specific project, overseen by ATCA-member mentors, and published on the ATCA site and potentially in other outlets as well. The Helbing Project may be print, video, audio, or any combination of formats. Applicants are invited to submit specific proposals, emphasizing LGBTQIA+ themes and interests. For applicants without specific ideas in mind, the program project will be developed in consultation with the Helbing Committee. The Helbing Mentorship program offers a grant of $5,000 that is payable throughout the program year.


The initial program year ran from September 2022 through August 2023. Inaugural ATCA Helbing Fellow Billy McEntee created a comprehensive history of the work of Terry Helbing, including extensive interviews with those who worked with Helbing, preserving a vital part of LGBTQIA+ history in the mid-20th century.




Applications for the second mentorship are now closed. The third mentorship application process will begin in 2025.




Christopher Byrne, Chair
Jay Handelman, ex-officio, President Foundation ATCA
Billy McEntee, 2022-2023 Helbing Fellow
Gerard Raymond
Frank Rizzo
Martha Wade Steketee


For more information, contact the Helbing Committee at helbing@americantheatrecritics.org



About Terry Helbing


Terry Helbing. Photo by Robert Giard, Copyright Estate of Robert Giard.

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. He cofounded the Gay Theatre Alliance, an international organization dedicated to the growth of gay theater 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 theater and production company. The Glines was turned over to Helbing and Miller who, through a generous grant, started the Meridian which became the only continuously operating gay theater with based 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 nad they sponsored a national gay playwriting contest every year. Terry Helbing passed away from AIDS on March 28, 1994 in New York City


  • 2024 May 21 — D.R. Lewis named second Helbing Fellow
  • 2024 April 1 — second fellowship season application due
  • 2023 August 10 — first fellowship project report published
  • 2022 August 1 — Billy McEntee named first Helbing Fellow