The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (see Hewlett Foundation: Grants for Performing Arts), in partnership with the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, recently announced six $50,000 commissions for San Francisco Bay Area playwrights as part of its Playwright Commissioning Awards initiative. The $300,000 is given in support of "the creation and production of new works by innovative California playwrights who reflect diverse cultural perspectives and communities." The works created with the help of these funds will premiere around the Bay Area at regional non-profit theater companies.
These awards are part of a three-year $900,000 initiative of the Gerbode and Hewlett foundations designed to support partnerships between California playwrights and theater production companies in the Bay Area. At the announcement of the creation of the awards, John E. McGuirk, director of the Hewlett's Performing Arts Program (read John McGuirk's IP profile), was quoted as saying, "Diverse communities will benefit from these commissions. The playwrights are supported in the creative process, local performing arts organizations showcase new works, and Bay Area communities get to see the debut of new plays. It adds real vitality to the region's performing arts scene."
This partnership between the Gerbode and Hewlett foundations is certainly a symbiotic one. The Gerbode Foundation has supported arts partnerships like this one for decades through its grants to various arts and culture organizations. Gerbode gives anywhere from $800,000 to $900,000 annually to San Francisco Bay Area arts organizations alone. And, of course, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has a long legacy of arts support, particularly through its Performing Arts Program.
This initiative is administered through the Gerbode Foundation's Special Awards Program, first begun in 1987. Former recipients of commissions through the Gerbode Special Awards Program include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, among other notables. The partnership between Hewlett and Gerbode is ongoing and and should prove to be fruitful for the theater arts scene, particularly in the Bay Area.
Applications for future Playwright Commissioning Awards are done through the Gerbode Foundation's website, and final selections are determined by an advisory panel of theater experts convened by the foundation. The Gerbode Foundation's manager of special awards, Olivia Malabuyo Tablante, can be contacted here.