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Started in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the Kennedy Center's founding chairman, the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents. Each year 8 regional festivals are presented in varying locations throughout the country. The festival culminates each year in a national springtime festival at the Kennedy Center which showcases selected productions, provides student and faculty artists with training opportunities with theater’s finest practitioners, and rewards selected student artists with second step opportunities through fellowships, scholarships, and residencies.