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Tony-winning teacher Corey Mitchell retires to a different stage
Launches nonprofit for fine arts hopefuls
Published Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:30 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Corey Mitchell, who will retire from Northwest School of the Arts in June, is launching a nonprofit to help students of color qualify for college fine arts programs.

Corey Mitchell is taking on a different type of education.

The 25-year classroom teacher is six weeks away from retirement from Northwest School of the Arts, where he spent 20 years. Next up for the 2015 recipient of the inaugural Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education and countless other accolades is his newly launched nonprofit, the Theatre Gap Initiative.

In an October interview with The Post after earning the Arts & Science Council Cato Lifetime Achievement Award, Mitchell talked about disparities impacting the theater community and how he noticed his Black students struggling to take the step from high school to a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Mitchell decided to take it upon himself to establish the nonprofit to help students use a gap year to prepare for auditions to get into BFA programs.

“I know about teaching,” he said. “I knew that I was stepping into a whole new world when it comes to nonprofits. I spent this time trying to hone in on the message and the method, but also trying to understand the industry and what is involved with starting a nonprofit like this. It has been late nights, early mornings and busy afternoons trying to craft something in a way that has not been presented before.”

Mitchell’s vision is now reality. TGI will accept applications for its inaugural class through May 17. The application is free. Admission will be announced on June 7, with 24 students accepted to the eight-month cohort, which starts in August. Students will meet weekdays from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for classroom, dance and theatre instruction. They’ll attend the National Unified Auditions in January and February, which allows them to audition for undergraduate programs.

TGI is working in collaboration with Central Piedmont Community College and will meet primarily in-person at the Georgia Tucker Fine Arts Hall on the Levine Campus. Students will also enroll in courses at CPCC, which means having student identification, something Mitchell feels is essential for students to feel a sense of belonging on campus.

They will work with college-admission and financial-aid counselors and other professionals to help them prepare for college success, addressing healthy living, budgeting, stress management and more. Students will have the option following the TGI experience to pursue an associate degree at CPCC. TGI tuition, which is $6,300, covers dual enrollment at CPCC and expenses for the National Unified Auditions. Need-based financial aid is available.

Requirements include submitting an online application, a transcript showing the student earned a 2.75 GPA or higher in the most recent year of study; letter of recommendation from an arts teacher or equivalent; statement of artistic purpose (no more than 250 words), performance video including two songs and a monologue and a resume containing information relevant to training and performance experience.

Mitchell is still crafting the day-to-day strategy, but he wants to do something different for students of color. He wants them to have more than an occasional play and Black History Month. TGI focuses on their experience, rather than presenting it as an afterthought.

“I am centering this around the needs for BIPOC students and going away from what has traditionally been done with BIPOC students, which is quite often they are on the fringes of this,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell has been overwhelmed by the response. From former students to colleagues and community partners, he has received an outpouring of support. He comprised an advisory board of college students, business leaders, professors, arts advocates and professional artists.

They include 2013 Tony winner for Best Actor Billy Porter; Colman Domingo, who recently starred in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Netflix; NWSA alumnus and 2014 Blumey Awards Best Actor Mekhai Lee; Charles Randolph-Wright, executive producer of Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Delilah;” Children’s Theatre of Charlotte artistic director Adam Burke and Renee Rapp, a NWSA alumnus and 2018 Blumey and Jimmy Award Best Actress.

To apply online:
For more information:



I would have expected nothing less than amazing from this good man upon retirement. He never fails to inspire. Melody Sears, Principal Northwest School of the Arts.
Posted on April 18, 2021

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