Since its founding in 1949, Drama Desk’s mission has been to promote and support artistic excellence in the New York professional theater, in its multitude of forms and styles and on stages of various sizes and configurations. The organization accomplishes its goal by hosting an annual Drama Desk Awards celebration and presenting various educational forums and panel discussions to its members and the theatergoing public.

The Drama Desk Awards (began by New York Times theater reporter Sam Zolotow, The New Yorker’s Edith Oliver, and The New York Post’s Vernon Rice, among others) were established to fulfill the organization’s mission. Drama Desk has opened its nominations for its annual awards to include theater productions by Off- and Off-Off Broadway artists, as well as that of Broadway producers.

Drama Desk’s charge to highlight theater’s artistic excellence is also accomplished via an annual series of panels and forums. Created and moderated by Drama Desk members, theater editors and/or journalists chosen for their erudition and theatrical experience, these panels offer audiences a chance to listen to producers, directors, actors, and other artists discuss their work.