The Arc3design Mentorship Program


A Brief Look Into Arc3design

Al Crawford has been the Lighting Director of the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater since 1998. He has produced the lighting for Ailey in virtually every major theater, performing arts center and opera house on the planet. His Ailey career has taken him to 48 states and over 60 countries including historically significant performances in Russia, China and South Africa.

In 2008, Al wanted to explore more cross-genre design opportunities while still maintaining his position with Ailey. With this desire and a couple of business cards, he began Arc3design, a lighting design group dedicated to merging his theatrical aesthetic into all areas of art, architecture, dance, live music, theater, broadcast, and live event production.

Arc3design is staffed by several freelance lighting designers from different educational and training backgrounds. One of Al’s Senior Lighting Designers, Roya Abab, was the first mentee for Arc3design. She later became the Associate Lighting Director for Ailey, and has maintained that position since 2011.

The Mentorship Experience

The Arc3design Mentorship Program should be seen as an educational experience first and foremost. It provides an opportunity to dive into the lighting industry from every possible direction, and to learn from an artist, who is not only a master of design, but is also active in the protection and development of this craft.

The selected student will have the opportunity to work directly with Al and his creative team in various venues around the New York City area, such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to name a few.

During studio days, the mentee will be able to participate in the creation process for active projects. These days may consist of working directly on a project with a lighting designer or working on a personal idea of a project with some given information. One-on-one reviews of the mentee's work will take place during development and upon completion. During these reviews, the mentee will lead a discussion about his or her work and process.

Applicant Information

All lighting design students, as well as college mentorship programs, are welcome to apply.

The mentorship typically lasts 3-4 months, but it has a flexible time frame that can be catered to the student’s schedule.

Housing or stipend is not provided.

Application PROCESS

Applicants for the Arc3design Mentorship Program should submit a resume and a one-page personal statement detailing what he or she hopes to gain from the experience. Please email the aforementioned documents, as well as any questions to Al Crawford at [email protected] and Jessica Elliott at [email protected] 


Past Students Selected for the Arc3design Mentorship Program


Julia McCabe - State University of New York at Purchase

Abby May - University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Kelley Shih - New York University

Ana Corrigan - The New School

Claudia Zakrzewki - Fordham University / Alvin Ailey School

Yi-Chung Chen - Boston University

Noamme Elisha - New York University

Roya Abab - University of North Carolina School of the Arts


Arc3design Mentorship Program Feedback


Abby May:

“[Last] summer [2016] could easily be described as the best summer of my life. When I first got to New York, I could barely get to work let alone do the things I was doing by the end of the summer. Upon walking in on my first day, I felt immediately relaxed because the vibe that the studio had was different than any other team I had worked with. I felt so inspired to create, so inspired to be the best I could be, so inspired to learn all that I could. Who thought a studio could do all of that?

My first day in a theatre I was working at NJPAC I got thrown into focusing a rig that I didn’t know, without any information on how to do it. Of course, I asked but when I did, I got the response 'figure it out'. By the end of the summer, I felt more comfortable “figuring it out” and being in situations that I didn’t necessarily know what to do.

After being in New York with Arc3 for a month, I felt like I was a completely different person, I could confidently do things I never knew how to do. I was pushed in ways I hadn’t ever been pushed to be the best I could be. And one of my most fond memories from the summer was when I was standing on stage at the Lincoln Center and Al turned to me and said,

‘I have a project for you’, of course I said, ‘Ok, what’s up?’ Al ended up asking me to draft something in 3D for him, and before I even knew it, the words 'Sure, when do you need it by?' were coming out of my mouth. Well I didn’t know how to draft in 3D, but there I was drafting in 3D desperately trying to make this deadline.

Working for Arc3design completely changed my life, I learned about the type of designer I want to be, the type of person I strived to be, the work ethic I wanted to have and the best part about the entire summer was that I had fun every single day.”


Claudia Zakrzewski:

“Working at Arc3 was the highlight of my summer in 2013, but theexperience became something I will hold onto forever. I no longer work in lighting design, but I am feeling very fortunate to be doing something I love and excel in and this simply would not have been possible without Al Crawford. Al will remain the most inspiring human I have ever met and I continue to strive to be like him, personally and professionally. His never-ending dedication to his passion is motivating. He and his team had taught me the most valuable lessons that every recent graduate needs to know – it is possible to love your job, hard work pays off, and nice people finish first. Thank you Arc3design!”


Kelley Shih:

“My [spring of 2015] experience with Arc3 allowed me to apply my college coursework to real production experience. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to explore so many applications for lighting outside of my theatrical background! I loved getting to see different stages of each project, from initial design meetings to venue walk-throughs to the final production.”