About theatreWashington

Jen Clements


From the District to Shirlington, from Bethesda to Tyson’s Corner, from the route 29 to the route 50 corridors, the Washington metropolitan area has always been one of the most prosperous, vital, and exciting communities in the country in which to live and work. An unparalleled arts destination, the Washington region is home to nearly 80 professional theatres and thousands of theatre professionals that produce work of the finest quality and fuel the economy of the nation’s capital. With the second highest per-capita number of theatre productions annually — second only to New York City — Washington, DC is an unparalleled arts destination. And, sitting at the very center of this dynamic theatre community is theatreWashington.

theatreWashington is...

  • The unified voice of Washington theatre
  • The only organization dedicated solely to promoting, representing, and supporting all segments of Washington’s professional theatre community — theatres, artists, company members, and audiences of all ages
  • Is strengthening Washington theatre’s powerful economic engine and world class brand.

What’s Past is Prologue

In the early 1980s the Washington Theatre Awards Society was founded to recognize and encourage excellence in professional theatre in the Washington region through the presentation of The Helen Hayes Awards. At that time, there were fewer than ten producing theatres in the DC area.

But after the first few Helen Hayes Awards presentations, the region and the country understood the quality of theatrical excellence to be found on Washington area stages. Using this prestigious credential, theatres attracted new audiences and support, they invested in programming and infrastructure, and in response, audiences grew and artists came to Washington to do the work they loved in a place where they could put down roots.

We launched innovative education and communication programs, but the early success of the Helen Hayes Awards suggested that we do business under the name of our most visible program.

Nearly three decades later, Washington’s theatre community is among the largest and most successful in the nation. Nearly 80 professional theatres and companies enliven the capital area, anchoring neighborhoods, fueling the regions’ economy, and producing work of the finest quality.

By building audiences, by introducing tens of thousands of area students to theatre, by promoting Washington across the nation as a vibrant cultural capital, and with the national and international significance of The Helen Hayes Awards, our organization has helped drive the continually tremendous growth of Washington theatre. Now, at the request of the theatre community and the encouragement of a wide range of stakeholders, a stronger and more robust organization has evolved; an organization newly configured but built on 27 years of credibility, capacity, endorsement, and leadership.

As our organization evolves into a new and exciting next chapter — and with a name a structure that better reflects the breadth and geographic scope of our realigned activities — so too will Washington theatres, artists, and audiences.