Justin Piccininni ’24

Access Theater, New York, NY

“Access Theater is a small, nonprofit theater space operating out of Tribeca” … a sentence I’ve written many times over the course of my wonderful internship at Access. Over two months, I worked with Williams alumna Laura Lee ’17 and Access Theater founder Jackie Christy to keep that nonprofit theater space active in a period of hardship. The pandemic was a major challenge to the independent theater and film communities, and much of my work at Access this summer reflected this. With such a small staff, in such a larger-than-life Tribeca textile loft, work at a nonprofit arts organization can get pretty hectic. From day to day I could be working on anything—helping with an ongoing issue in Access’ building, researching title sequences for an upcoming film Jackie and Laura were working on, or running to get some cupcakes for an important meeting in the building. Though these little things by no means made up the bulk of my work, there was never a dull moment thanks to the active and exciting creative enterprise of Access.

But the long-term projects were of more importance. Much of my work at Access revolved around grant writing—applying both for specific artistic endeavors and to foundations as a nonprofit theater. Though the grant writing process is often a challenge—it’s honestly difficult to figure out which foundations exist when your main resource is Google—I learned so much under the guidance of Jackie, both about writing formally in a professional context and about the complicated world of grants. Working on such a serious and important aspect of any nonprofit was initially intimidating, especially considering I have little experience in this type of work, but it proved to be incredibly rewarding. It feels great knowing that I helped such an inspiring arts organization in its recovery after the pandemic.

Above all, Jackie and Laura have inspired me to pursue my own creative endeavors. Jackie taught us so much about the production process, with her own debut feature in post-production at the time of writing this. I never thought I would get the opportunity to watch a pre-final cut of a feature film, but one of the first things I did at Access was watch the movie for feedback. Playing a part in the production of a film with a famous cast and a serious production value was thrilling—the idea that even some small input I made could make it to the final cut of the film is still exciting to this day. Laura and Jackie’s determination has inspired me to take my own creativity more seriously, and chase that thrill of presenting to the world something you’ve worked tirelessly for.

I want to thank everyone involved in making this summer internship a reality. This unique, invaluable experience would have been impossible without your support.