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The summer staff of the Eugene O'Neill center wrote their own letter about a week ago, calling for living wages, as well as anti-racism training for all, limits on how many hours they can work per week and more. As of two days ago, according to their instagram @eotcsummer21 their conversations with senior staff have yielded:

an increase in pay (from $150/week) to $200/week

(including back pay)

anti-racism training for all staff

hours reduced to 40 hrs per week

a second day off per week

additional staff hired (and more to come) to support staff in the final weeks of programming this summer

laundry stipends

Additionally, the O'Neill has committed to rethinking the apprenticeship program going forward, and have taken down the listing that inspired this letter.

Please go check out their instagram for full details, these folks have done great work in the last few weeks, and I'm excited to see what long-lasting progress can be drawn from this. Congrats @eotcsummer21!!!

Thank you to all for signing and sharing your stories. @eotcsummer21 will be recieving a spreadsheet with all the signatures and comments to share with senior staff at the O'Neill, and hopefully they can build a better way forward.


Sarah Dew

  • Writer's pictureSarah Dew


I've got a few posts lined up and ready to go, with the aim of releasing something semi-weekly on Fridays. But it's important to share a bit about the who and the why of the whats to come.

I'm sure there are careers and industries where the personal is easily divestible from the product, but as I work in the arts, hospitality, and team culture sectors, who I am is pretty well entwined with the work I do.

My name is Sarah Dew, and I have over a decade of experience in the aforementioned industries as an employee, a patron, and a consultant. I went to a liberal arts college in upstate New York where I built my own interdisciplinary concentration in Performance Studies so that I could better study the relationship between audience and performer in both artistic and socially performative scenarios of the everyday. I inhaled classes in the subjects of Sociology, Theatre, Anthropology, Womens Studies, Africana Studies, Psychology, Philosophy, and a particularly ungraceful attempt at dance.

Simultaneously, I played lacrosse as a goalie for the college. It was a sport I'd learned from family and a place where I found friendship and community. By college, I'd been playing for fifteen years; had been to the National Tournament twice in high school, won a Liberty League championship as a freshman in college, played in the NCAA tournament, had the privelege of being trained and mentored by the greatest lacrosse goalie of all time Chris Sanderson, and by the time I retired I had one of the best save percentages in the country. I enjoyed the team dynamics as much as I enjoyed the individual challenges of goalkeeping.

At the end of my junior year, I sustained several concussions. And then several more. By the time I'd graduated I had sustained 7 concussions in one year and my life had taken a drastic turn from the direction I thought I'd be going. At this point in my life today, I've stopped keeping count at over twenty concussions, sustained from both my time as a goalie and my predisposition towards being accident prone.

It took 8 years to get a diagnosis of PTSD and TBI. I have panic attacks when overstimulated and a deteriorated sense of spatial awarness amongst other chronic conditions and pain.

During those 8 years I struggled to find where to go: in my career, in life, and as a person. I managed to graduate college having pulled of the incredible feat of a thesis in which I wrote, directed, designed (set, sound, lights and projections), produced, and marketed a one act play and wrote an academic paper on the subject without faculty support and all while struggling with severe post concussion symptoms. Upon graduating, I was rudderless, recommendationless, and very unsure of where to go.

I managed to land in exactly the right place: House Managing. I worked in Front of House departments at theaters near where my parents lived for several years, and while there began taking an interest in accessibility programming; even prior to my own disability diagnosis, I was motivated to find a more inclusive way forward for an industry I believe is a powerful agent for social change. Eventually I ran my own department and consulted other organizations on their programming and initiatives. I found myself using my academic studies daily, and continually learning more about the power of theater and community.

When not working directly in Front of House programs, I worked in a variety of industries: bar managment, hospitality, recreation programming, small business management, coaching lacrosse, amongst others. Through these experiences I gained an extensive understanding of various management styles and practices, how to effectively and efficently lead teams, and how to work through conflict towards progress.

Other important pieces about me in the work I do are that I have two nephews with autism, who are bright funny kids who inspire me every day. A great friend of mine from high school is the creater of The ClearMask, doing phenomenal work making the medical industry a more accessible and inclusive place.

All of this I bring with me to daily work and consultancy. A naturally keen intuitition and a penchant for efficient and honest feedback are hallmarks of my method and style, but most importantly I aim to work with integrity towards a a more inclusive future where individual communities act with intention to rectify wrongs of the past and work to integrate progress and patron loyalty into their definitions of success, alongside profits.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this, and hope you are well. Reach out at any time to chat via email ( or calendly.



Apologies for spelling or syntax errors.

Sign the Open Letter

and counting

Thank you for signing!

Due to a bug, submissions are being updated manually- thank you for your patience!

Anything submitted between July 27 and August 2 will be updated by August 3.

Emma Wiesberg

In solidarity with you all <3

7/27/21, 5:41 PM

Edd Fairman

I earned this exact same amount working as a Production Apprentice in 1997! I cannot belive that wages haven't increased in 24 years. This is criminal.

7/26/21, 6:13 PM

Lena Sands

7/25/21, 4:18 PM

Hannah Manikowski

A working class O’Neill finalist

7/24/21, 10:59 PM

Chase Woolner

7/24/21, 7:17 PM

Ben Murphy

7/24/21, 12:35 PM

Brandon O'Neill

7/23/21, 5:14 PM

Tiffany Underwood Holmes

7/23/21, 1:58 PM

Kimber Lee

7/23/21, 1:01 PM

Becca Parsons

7/23/21, 6:06 AM

Susan Lambert-Hatem

We need our premiere institutions in new works and new voices to lead the way in implementing new policies for real equity and equality

7/23/21, 4:34 AM


I attended NTI and saw first hand the conditions the apprentices worked, all that they were expected to do, the fear at being yelled at or doing something wrong, all for so little pay and almost no time off. It is time for there to be a change in a program that could truly be the “launchpad”

7/23/21, 2:02 AM

Elsa Hiltner

of careers as opposed to the exact thing that turns people off of pursuing theatre.

7/23/21, 1:40 AM

Rebecca Husk

7/22/21, 10:26 PM

Drew Nichols

The conditions described are standard industry practice for these festivals. It needs to be reimagined, and I'd hoped places like the O'Neill would spend the year off doing just that, using the just cause of making theatre work accessible and humane to solicit donations and sell tickets. Before this becomes standard again, I'm glad people are speaking out.

7/22/21, 10:26 PM

Spencer Kohler

7/22/21, 8:46 PM

Emily Fluchel

I was the production manager apprentice for the summer of 2018. I agree wholeheartedly with this letter. One of the best but also the worst summers of my life.

7/22/21, 7:51 PM

Savannah Core

7/22/21, 6:19 PM

Matt Landry-McWilliams

I was manipulated, unthanked and overworked during my time at the O’Neill. I stand with Sarah and all those bravely adding their voices to this important conversation.

7/22/21, 5:50 PM

Tari Owei

7/22/21, 4:18 PM

Lizzie Buchanan

7/22/21, 3:57 PM

Austin Murray

7/22/21, 3:49 PM

Justice Longshore

7/22/21, 3:36 PM

Claire Chenoweth

7/22/21, 2:13 PM

Tlaloc Rivas

Many of us in the professional and academic circles mentor a great # of young artists - and how they will be treated (esp. as underrepresented community members) is just as important as the professional exp. and connections they will receive.

7/22/21, 2:09 PM

Kristina Lew

7/22/21, 1:56 PM

Alana Conti

Past apprentices and I have such a deep love of NTI and it was heartbreaking every day we worked there. This apprenticeship is not livable and the mental and physical wellbeing of us did not matter. NTI and the O’Neill should reach out to the last 3 or 4 years of apprentices and actually listen to what we have to say. There is no way this job can change if they do not listen. And changes cannot be made without hearing from the people that worked as apprentices.

7/22/21, 12:48 PM

Shalee Cole Mauleón

7/22/21, 12:29 PM

Jane Cox

I don't recommend internships at places that pay less than a living wage to young people. I never did an internship myself because I couldn't afford to. If the O'Neill can't afford to pay its interns a living wage, then the theater needs to find less labor intensive ways to make theater. That goes for all theaters everywhere. And everybody, at all levels of theater making and going, needs to try to understand the real costs of making a piece of theater, and make choices accordingly.

7/22/21, 12:18 PM

Raegan Payne

7/22/21, 6:52 AM


7/22/21, 4:17 AM

Agyeiwaa Asante

Less talking about change, more doing

7/22/21, 3:41 AM


I wholeheartedly agree with everyone expressing the need for these positions to pay living wages. I noticed far fewer people mentioning the need for better working conditions though. You can’t just pay people a decent wage and stop there. You also have to allow your workers to have personal lives and take care of their mental health. This “be grateful we gave you this opportunity by agreeing to be on call all the time” nonsense needs to end as well

7/22/21, 3:09 AM

Wenxuan Xue

7/22/21, 2:35 AM


7/22/21, 2:10 AM


7/22/21, 2:01 AM

Morgan Richardson

7/22/21, 1:29 AM

Maggie Snyder

7/22/21, 1:27 AM

Brigid Amos

I'm an NTI alum from way back, and have to express my bewilderment at this whole discussion, because I really don't remember these apprentices during the school year. If the program has grown to the extent that these professionals are needed to run it, then hire them as full time staff. Pay a wage that allows them to live in New London. I understand serving as a volunteer and getting a stipend. I did that in the Bay Area. But I was helping an at risk youth population, and I did not expect it to lead to a professional position. Also, I had way more free time than what I see in this description. If you can't afford to hire people to do real work, then cut back. Better that than taking in apprentices every year, many of whom may have nowhere to go afterward. This to me sounds like a real full time job, so why not actually employ someone?

7/22/21, 12:00 AM

Grace Ward

Loving an institution means demanding better from it. Standing in solidarity and sending love to all of those demanding better from the O'Neill.

7/21/21, 11:43 PM

Tim McCalister

You must be the change that you want to see in the world.

7/21/21, 10:18 PM

Marisela Treviño Orta

7/21/21, 9:29 PM

William Pile

I was never able to economically afford an internship. While work can be a passion, it also needs to make a living. It needs to change if theater is ever going to heal the racial socio-economic disparities that currently exist.

7/21/21, 9:02 PM

Kat Zukaitis

7/21/21, 8:21 PM

Chris Truini

This is way overdue. Solidarity forever.

7/21/21, 8:09 PM

Des'ree Brown

We want real pay for our real work, dreams, and labor.

7/21/21, 7:40 PM

Rosalind Hurwitz

7/21/21, 6:26 PM

Derresha Webb

7/21/21, 5:05 PM

Sarah Mantell

7/21/21, 4:30 PM

Sarah O'Reagan

7/21/21, 3:44 PM

Charly Evon

7/21/21, 3:31 PM