Playwrights’ Center: Grants for Writing

OVERVIEW: The Playwrights’ Center supports playwrights in all stages of their career.

IP TAKE: The center’s grantmaking programs generally support playwrights, although they do provide some funding for other types of theater artists. It prioritizes grantmaking in Minnesota; however, it makes some grants nationwide.

PROFILE: Created in 1971, the Playwrights’ Center is based in Minneapolis and provides artistic and professional support to playwrights at all stages of their career. It has helped to promote and champion playwrights and theater artists, including: August Wilson, Lee Blessing, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jordan Harrison, Carlyle Brown, Craig Lucas, Jeffrey Hatcher, Melanie Marnich, and Kira Obolensky. The center seeks to support “playwrights and new plays to build upon a living theater that demands new and innovative works.” Its grantmaking programs generally prioritize playwrights, although they do provide some funding for other kinds of theater artists.

The Playwrights’ Center makes grants totaling around $300,000 each year. Each program has its own deadlines and application requirements, so grant seekers should read over the expectations for each program individually.

The Core Writer program supports established playwrights “who demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and artistic excellence.” These grants are for three years, but grantees are allowed to reapply for additional terms. The program includes development workshops and collaborations with directors, actors, dramaturgs, and designers.

The Jerome Fellowship supports early career playwrights with extraordinary potential. Fellows receive an $18,000 stipend and $2,000 in development funds. The fellowship includes a year residency in Minnesota and workshops with professional directors, dramaturgs, and actors. It also includes collaborations with the center’s artistic staff, “some of the most experienced and connected theater professionals in the country.” To be eligible, applicants may not have had more than two works professionally produced.

The Many Voices program supports playwrights of color. It consists of fellowships and mentorships. The fellowships support two early-career playwrights of color with an $18,000 stipend and $2,000 in development funds. The mentorship supports one Minnesota-based playwright of color with a $2,000 stipend and access to over $1,500 in Center services for early-career playwrights.

The McKnight Fellowships in Playwrighting support mid-career playwrights based in Minnesota. Fellows receive a $25,000 stipend, $2,500 for professional development, and $1,400 in travel funds. Applicants must have had at least one work produced by a professional theater. Students are ineligible; professional playwrights only.

The McKnight National Residency and Commission programs supports an established playwright from outside Minnesota with a year-long residency. Recipients receive a $15,000 commission, at lest two round-trip plane tickets within the US, housing during the residency, up to $5,750 in workshop funds, and a public reading of the commissioned work. Students are ineligible; professional playwrights only.

The Core Apprentice program supports three students from schools with the New Plays on Campus program. Recipients receive a nine-month mentorship with a professional playwright and a workshop to help develop their new play.

The McKnight Theater Artist Fellowships support non-playwright theater artists with a $25,000 grant. Recipients must be Minnesota-based, mid-career theater professionals. The center encourages applicants to reach out and review application tips before applying.

Applicants may apply for multiple fellowships. Contact artistic programs administrator Julia Brown at juliab@pwcenter.org with questions. Apply here.

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