While awards like the Tonys or Drama Desk acknowledge great produced work of a particular season, there is another set of awards that support emerging work and emerging musical writers.
Awards aren’t always for an ego boost; credits like these added to your writer resume can help a prospective producer pay more attention. Here are key submission windows for honors and residencies, listed by season.
Rhinebeck Writers Retreat
A week-long retreat may sound like a small opportunity. But, in addition to the retreat time itself, being selected for this residency carries some prestige that may yield benefits in the years to come. Each year the nine writing teams selected are announced in the major Broadway-related publications, so you receive notice in that way, as well as through a concert or reading held in late summer. Being chosen by the selection committee can help producers gain confidence in your work. They’ve also added a “Triple R” program. One alumni writing team receives an additional Residency and 2 Readings that support further development of the team’s musical.
The summer at the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat including a week-long stay for the writing team at a fully furnished private home in Rhinebeck, NY; food, piano, some travel expenses, and $500 stipend per writer. See Rhinebeck Writers to apply or to donate funds for other writers.
This organization does not ask a royalty from future productions. They ask that a title page credit is given on future readings, showcases, productions, and publications.
Submissions: mid Jan to mid Feb.
Dramatists Guild Fellows Program
As the website explains, “The Fellows program is a selective, year-long intensive for playwrights, composers, lyricists, and bookwriters. The program pairs talented writers with accomplished professional mentors, who help them hone their process, and find their unique voice.” As an example, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul were encouraged in the development of what became their hit Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen while participating in the fellows program.
Submissions to join the coveted Dramatists Guild “Class of Fellows” has a small application window February – March. https://dgf.org/programs/fellows/
The Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project
The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project differs from other residencies in that it offers master classes/mentorships. The weeklong is held annually each June on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University. The free program includes housing, stipend for travel and living, and a concert opportunity at the end.
The winter submissions window ends March 1st. https://www.mercersongwriters.com/
Substantial monetary awards (as much as $100,000) are given out each year to both a promising librettist and a lyricist as a way of encouraging further work. The Kleban Foundation was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning lyricist of the musical A Chorus Line. To be eligible you must have had a production or workshop of your musical. And you must be (or have been) a member or an associate of a professional musical workshop or theater group, i.e., ASCAP, BMI Theater Workshop or the Dramatists Guild Fellows Program.
The submissions window is usually mid March to mid May for the award to be granted the following calendar year.
Fred Ebb Award
This award is made possible by The Fred Ebb Foundation. It recognizes excellence in musical theater songwriting by a lyricist/composer or songwriting team that has not yet achieved significant commercial success. The winner will be selected in November and will receive $60,000. The Foundation will also produce a one-night showcase of the winner’s work.
The submissions window has been June 1 to June 29.
The National Music Theater Conference – Residency and Staged Readings at Eugene O’Neil Center in Waterford, CT
One of the most popular open submissions programs for all types of music theater, the program receives hundreds of submissions. From those three outstanding pieces are chosen for their “artistic excellence, originality of voice, singularity of perspective, and developmental potential.”
The program offers a two-week residency including full room and board, as well as a stipend, plus having your piece developed with a team of industry leaders, culminating in four staged readings.
Submissions are accepted in the fall, and you can sign up for a mailing list to be notified of news. https://www.theoneill.org/nmtc
Jonathan Larson Grant
Grants by the Jonathan Larson Foundation are for lyricists, composers, librettists, or any combination of the three, or teams. They are for “artists who are creating new, fully producible works for the theatre, and advancing the art form.” (This is for a person, not a show.)
The submissions deadline is the end of September.
Richard Rodgers Award
Endowed by composer Richard Rodgers, this award subsidize full productions, studio productions, and staged readings by nonprofit theaters in New York City of works by composers and writers who are not already established in this field.
The submissions window is in the fall. http://artsandletters.org/awards/richard-rodgers-award/