Arcade Academy

Diversity Scholarship

2024 Scholarship applications open this Fall

Arcade Diversity Scholarship
in honor of Terrence W. Black

About the scholarship

We believe that the best comedy reflects the diverse world in which it is presented, and we are dedicated to making our stages representative of our community. The Arcade Diversity Scholarship, founded in honor of Terrence W. Black through the generous support of his son and with continuing funding from student and audience donations, provides an opportunity for underrepresented voices in Pittsburgh to learn, practice, and perform comedy on the Arcade stage.

Scholarship recipients on the Improv Track are awarded a complete education in improv comedy with 5 classes from Arcade’s core curriculum. Recipients on the Stand-Up/Writing Track are awarded 3 classes of their choosing from the disciplines of Stand Up, Writing, and Improv, and may take the same class multiple times should they wish. Additionally, all scholarship recipients will receive mentorship from Arcade instructors and performance opportunities. At least one scholarship will be granted in each track every year.

Throughout the student’s time in classes, they will learn lessons that build confidence in public speaking, collaboration, and creative expression — all while being immersed in Arcade’s community of performing artists. The goal is to train a new generation of comedic artists that will work and play in Pittsburgh as part of Arcade Comedy Theater’s premier comedy institution.

Who is this scholarship for?

The Arcade Diversity Scholarship serves those that identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color; LGBTQIA+; or belong to underrepresented groups that may not have access to invest in a comedy education. You must be 18 years or older to enroll in Arcade Academy classes.

We’re here to help:

If you are interested in learning more about our Diversity Scholarship, or would like to be updated when the next round of applications opens, please contact Abby Fudor, Director of Artistic Programs at

Learn more about Arcade’s improv classes here.

Scholarship Application

Arcade Comedy Theater is accepting applications for its 2025 Diversity Scholarship class. Applications will be reviewed and scholarships will be awarded after November 2024.

Important Dates for 2024:

  • Application open now
  • Applications begin to be reviewed in November 2024

Mission Statement on Inclusion

Arcade Comedy Theater believes that the best comedy reflects the diverse world in which it is presented. We are committed to providing a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment to all artists, staff, and audience members who come through our doors. Arcade will take an active role to ensure equitable practices and remedy when there are disparities in our values. We understand that inclusion is a journey, and that while we work to do good today, we must also work to do better tomorrow.

If you have any questions about our mission of inclusion, please contact Abby Fudor, Director of Artistic Programs.

The application process: 

  1. Complete the application form
  2. All applications are reviewed by our committee
  3. Candidates selected for an interview by the announced deadline
  4. Interviews with committee members will occur at a predetermined time
  5. Scholarship recipient(s) will be announced and begin taking classes starting with the closest upcoming session

Our Scholarship Committee

  • Abby Fudor, Director of Artistic Programs
  • Robin Hitchcock, Academy Director
  • Nia Johnson, Manager of New Programming
  • In addition to the above Arcade personnel, the application review committee and interview committee includes a group of dedicated volunteers who are artists, educators, and leaders in their fields that reflect the communities to which this scholarship is directed

“My father was not an artist, but he took pride in supporting the arts; while my mother devoted her retirement to creating art, he devoted his retirement to being a patron of the arts. I honor his legacy by supporting emerging comedic artists. The importance of cultivating diverse voices is unambiguous in my professional work in tech. Diverse perspectives lead to better outcomes. An inclusive environment requires intent, commitment, and investment; with my hope channeled to enable each through this scholarship.”

— Tom Black, Arcade donor

2023 Class of Scholarship Recipients

Asher O’Briant

Sydney DuBose

Zach Reed

Sydney Stephenson

Arcade Comedy Theater has a great way of welcoming community members of all backgrounds and identities. It was at this theater that I saw performers who looked like me and truly made me feel represented in the comedy space. Whenever I leave shows at Arcade, not only am I entertained, but I’m also inspired by my potential to grow as a performer. While I am eager to learn new improv forms and comedy practices this year, I am also excited to meet people who support each other both on and off the stage.

Sydney DuBose

2023 Diversity Scholarship Recipient

The arcade family gave me the opportunity to build up my confidence and professionalism, to take my comedy writing to the next level.


Asher O'Briant

2023 Diversity Scholarship Recipient

2022 Class of Scholarship Recipients

Dominique Chestand
Trevor Miles
Melannie Taylor
Jeyni Ortiz-Valentin
I’ve been practicing some form of quarantine since the pandemic started two years ago. Which can be very isolating, not just as a human being, but as an artist. I’m the type of creative that really needs to be out in the world and around people to consistently feel motivated as I work towards my artistic goals. Though my time at Arcade has just started, the vulnerability it takes to do stand up has already pushed me to be more vulnerable in the other disciplines I practice. As a new transplant in Pittsburgh, the warm welcome I’ve received from fellow classmates and staff at Arcade has shown me the sense of community that comedy can build as an art form.
Dominique Chestand

2022 Diversity Scholarship Recipient

I’ve always had an interest in storytelling, and I want to turn my heavier life experiences into something teachable, and hilarious.  For me, comedy is a completely brand new form of art making. I look forward to growing, smiles, and foolishness ensuing.


Trevor Miles

2022 Diversity Scholarship Recipient

First Class of Scholarship Recipients

Beverly Conrique
Karyme Garzón Mahmud
Montaja Simmons
Kalyani Singh
I’ve always believed in the arts as a way to explore the self and our place in society, feel joy, be creative and innovative, build community, and overall become better people individually and alongside others.
No matter how much I had going on, going to class was always a place I could pause, belly-laugh, and co-create with some of the kindest and funniest people I’ve ever met….I’ve also really enjoyed learning about improv. Improv philosophy honestly has so many nuggets of wisdom that are just as applicable to life as they are to improv comedy. I feel that it has made me both a better improviser and person, which I am constantly grateful for.
Now, almost a year later, I’ve started to integrate what I’m constantly learning through Arcade into my ongoing research thanks to a small Pitt Year of Creativity research grant to promote constructive intergroup dialogues between U.S. political partisans
Beverly Conrique

2019 Diversity Scholarship Recipient

I wanted to find a new creative outlet, get back on stage, and find a collaborative art form that would help me improve my ESL skills and also deal with anxiety… I’ve always loved laughing and making others laugh and thought that comedy as an artistic pursuit would be the best combo!
I love that [classes] are such a safe space for expression and making mistakes … I was anxious before starting improv classes but honestly, my favorite part is that nobody cares how you do comedy as long as you take care of one another, and I love that.
Karyme Garzón Mahmud

2019 Diversity Scholarship Recipient