Directors Emergency Relief Fund



Due to the overwhelming number of applications for the Directors Emergency Relief Fund (DERF), The Drama League has temporarily closed new applications, in order to focus on processing and supporting those applicants already in queue.  We will reopen applications for a Phase Two cycle in late summer/early fall of 2020, with expanded areas of support beyond COVID-19 impacts.  Please visit this page for updates as they become available.


Thank you for your interest in The Drama League Directors Emergency Relief Fund (DERF).



The Drama League has created this temporary fund to meet the needs of stage directors who have suffered lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For as long as The Drama League determines it is necessary, prudent, and able to do so, DERF will provide emergency grants of up to $599 for stage directors who have lost wages from the voiding of directing agreements and/or other opportunities resulting from theatrical productions canceled and/or postponed as a result of the pandemic.



In accordance with our mission, grants will be provided exclusively to stage directors – that is, individual artists with a record of directing theatrical productions at theaters in the United States – who demonstrate that they have had at least one directing engagement canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Alumni and non-alumni of The Drama League are eligible to apply.

DERF will provide relief for lost wages due to a specific project.  Proof of contract to direct the project is required, as is documentation of its cancellation or postponement.

Directors may only apply once to DERF between April 13, 2020 and July 31, 2020; additional applications may be accepted at that time, at The Drama League's discretion.

Directors must be living in the United States or U.S. territories and have a U.S. Tax ID Number.

The Drama League anticipates far greater need than DERF will be able to accommodate. We will fund as many directors as possible, but resources are limited and the need is overwhelming.  Please be aware that DERF will not be able to fund all applicants.

DERF is unable, at this time, to support performers, playwrights, ensemble members, composers, stage managers, technicians or designers  We recognize, however, the vital contributions that all theater artists make to the field and encourage all artists to visit and take advantage of the resources below, as well as the websites of your unions, who can direct you to resources for other disciplines.

COVID-19 Resources for Directors

COVID-19 Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations

COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources

Please note that the resources at the links above have not been independently vetted by The Drama League. We encourage you to research all the resources on each list independently.



To complete the application, you will need the following documents. You may wish to gather them in advance:

1) Your Professional Directing Resume
2) PDF Documentation of Your Employment to Direct the Canceled/Postponed Project
3) PDF Documentation of the Cancellation/Postponement of the Project

We also ask that you complete the five-minute Stage Directors COVID-19 Impact Survey before applying. While not required, your survey answers will aid in the gathering of additional resources and grants to support DERF.  We appreciate your assistance with this vital work.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with a case-by-case evaluation and distribution of funds until funding resources are exhausted.  All applicants will be contacted with a decision as fast as possible.  Please be patient with our small and overburdened staff, who are moving as expeditiously as possible.



Email us HERE.




Click here to see the initial results of our COVID-19 Impact Survey.

Lead support for the Directors Emergency Relief Fund is provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation and an Anonymous Donor. Additional funding is provided through the Ghost Light Campaign with donations from individuals, Drama League members and alumni of the Directors Project. Generous support is also provided by Victoria Harmon, and David Sheehan and MikeLynn Salthouse.

Programs are supported, in part, by generous grants from the Howard Gilman Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Sylvia W. and Randle M. Kauders Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Leo Shull Foundation for the Arts, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. The Directors Project is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

We are grateful to everyone who has chosen to support directors in this moment, and we hope you'll consider joining us by donating. To make a donation to these efforts, please visit the Annual Fund.