National Press Club

Young Playwright's Theater LogoEvent Spotlight – Young Playwrights' Theater's 20th Anniversary Giving Voice Award Gala, honoring Diane Rehm
Frank Cervarich, Deputy Director, Young Playwrights' Theater

Explain the significance of your event for those who may not be familiar with your organization.

Young Playwrights' Theater (YPT) is the only professional theater in Washington, DC dedicated entirely to arts education. Founded in 1995 by playwright Karen Zacarías, YPT inspires young people to realize the power of their own voices. By teaching students to express themselves through the art of playwriting, YPT develops students’ language skills, and empowers them with the creativity, confidence and critical thinking skills they need to succeed in school and beyond. Since 1995, YPT's award-winning In-School and After-School Playwriting Programs have reached over 12,000 students in all eight wards of Washington, DC, integrated directly into local public school classrooms. In addition, YPT professionally produces over 25 student-written plays every year, reaching over 85,000 audience members in our 20 year history.

Young Playwright's Theater GalaEstablished in 2009, YPT's annual Giving Voice Award recognizes extraordinary individuals and organizations who, through their work and generosity, have exemplified YPT's spirit by giving voice to the voiceless and inspiring others to realize their full potential. In 2013, YPT established an annual gala dedicated to honoring an individual with our Giving Voice Award, in recognition of their contributions to our city. The event also serves as a celebration of the YPT community and the students we serve, and an important fundraising effort to support our arts education programming. As we look to expand our work in underserved neighborhoods and with at-risk student populations, our Giving Voice Award Gala has become a cornerstone of our growth!

When it comes to looking for a venue, what do you look for? Did the NPC deliver?

2015 is YPT's 20th Anniversary year, so we wanted our 20th Anniversary Gala to be our biggest, glitziest and most memorable celebration yet! As we were honoring renowned NPR broadcaster Diane Rehm, we wanted an event that went beyond our previous galas in terms of sophistication and also felt closely tied to Washington, DC.

Young Playwright's Theater GalaOur 2015 gala was also Back to the Future-themed (since, in addition to being our 20th Anniversary year, 2015 is the year that Marty McFly travels to in the legendary movie trilogy's second film)! So we needed a venue that both captured the elegant feel of a milestone celebration and was open to us bringing in a cardboard DeLorean for our photo booth. And of course, we had practical considerations: we wanted the venue to be accessible, recognizable and (since we’re a small nonprofit) as affordable as possible.

The National Press Club was the perfect venue for our 20th Anniversary Gala. The space is so beautiful that you feel fancy from the moment you step out of the elevator, with the gorgeous DC skyline as your backdrop for the evening. The Press Club staff went above and beyond with recommendations and suggestions as we figured out layout, décor, menu and entertainment, and made sure that everything ran smoothly day-of. It was also the perfect setting to honor legendary broadcaster Diane Rehm, and to celebrate YPT's work in the DC community over the past 20 years. Our guests all had a wonderful time, and the night felt very special and celebratory.

Young Playwright's Theater GalaWhat were your event goals, and how did the NPC help accomplish them?

With our 20th Anniversary Gala, we sought to create an event that was both a fancy gala – with an ambitious fundraising goal – and a party worthy of our 20 years of life. Hosting our event at the National Press Club brought the gala to the next level in all aspects, and helped make our event a success. The venue itself was a big draw for selling tickets, and the spacious layout allowed us plenty of room for the creative touches that our guests expect from YPT events. At the event, our guests enjoyed delicious food and drinks, danced, bid in our silent and reverse auctions, took pictures at our photo booth and listened to the inspiring words of Diane Rehm and our student speakers. The entire night ran smoothly thanks to the Press Club staff and the air was festive and celebratory, inspiring our guests to donate to help make YPT's work possible for the next twenty years.

What did your attendees think of the event and their experience?

We have received amazing feedback from our guests. Everyone has raved about how much fun they had, and how it felt like a step above our previous galas – a celebration worthy of YPT's 20th Anniversary Year, as we promised.

How do you feel the NPC compares with other venues in DC?

The Press Club event staff is top-notch. Since they do so many different events every day, they are real pros, so having their support both leading up to and during the event was a big advantage for us. Having everything taken care of in-house as part of our venue rental, including food, beverage, and set-up, made executing the event infinitely easier for our staff. Our day-of contact was helpful, cheerful and efficient – she even helped us out when we realized we were out of push pins an hour before the start of the event!

Young Playwright's Theater GalaAnother advantage is the space itself. The Press Club is so beautiful and elegant that you don’t need to spend a lot of time on design and décor for your event. Your guests feel fancy just being in the space.

It's a very accessible location for guests – right in the heart of Washington, DC, close to several metro stops and surrounded by parking garages. We were also amazed at the affordability of the rental. We never thought a space like the National Press Club would be a viable option for a small nonprofit, but it worked out perfectly and was just right for our needs.

Based on this event, would you do more events at the NPC in the future?

Absolutely. We had a wonderful experience working with the Press Club, and our event was a big success. The Press Club really was the perfect setting for our 20th Anniversary Gala, and we would love to do more events!

About the NPC Event Spotlight: The National Press Club hosts more than 2,000 events annually for our clients, and each month we feature a different event that showcases the creative and unique ways the Club can help you achieve your business, social and media objectives through our Event Services offerings. If you are interested in participating in our Event Spotlight series, please contact Brian Taylor at 202-662-7541 or