American Theatre Wing

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American Theatre Wing lapel pin

The American Theatre Wing (the Wing for short; originally part of the WWII Allied Relief Fund) is a New York City-based organization "dedicated to supporting excellence and education in theatre," according to its mission statement. ATW created and sponsors the Tony Awards in theatrical arts.


In 1939, a group of theatrical women led by Rachel Crothers and Antoinette Perry founded the organization in Manhattan. All were active in Broadway theater, as patrons or actors or both, and many had supported the Stage Women's War Relief Fund, an earlier effort. With the entry of the United States into World War II, the Wing established the Stage Door Canteen to entertain American servicemen.

After the war, the Wing founded the Community Players to assist war veterans and their families on their return home. The Community Players was co-chaired by Katharine Cornell, who was active on the Stage Door Canteen.

With the close of the war, the Wing concentrated on holding seminars about American theater, and on funding numerous scholarship grants. It sponsored the First American Congress of Theatre (FACT) in 1974, and is best known as creator and owner of The American Theatre Wing's Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Theatre -- the Tony Awards—named for its co-founder and wartime Chair. The initial presentation of its Tony Awards program on radio and television was broadcast only locally in New York City. In 1967, it partnered with the League of American Theatres and Producers, now called The Broadway League, to present them on nationwide network television. From 1965 until 1998, Isabelle Stevenson was the President of the ATW, and since 1998 was board chairwoman. A special non-competitive Tony Award, for humanitarian or charitable work, is named in her honor (the Isabelle Stevenson Award).[1]

Besides the Tonys, ATW operates an array of programs to support its goals, including:

  • The long-running "Working In The Theatre" series of televised seminars with top practitioners in the field;
  • Downstage Center, a weekly radio theatrical interview show on XM Satellite Radio;
  • A free audio and video archive of theatrical seminars and discussions at;
  • The Jonathan Larson Grants, supporting emerging creators of Musical Theatre
  • SpringboardNYC, a college to career bootcamp for actors
  • The Theatre Intern Group; a social and professional networking organization for Theatre Interns in New York City


  1. ^ Nemy, Enid. "Isabelle Stevenson, Doyenne of the Tony Awards, Dies at 90", The New York Times, December 30, 2003

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