Sustain, develop, connect. The overall vision for our current strategic plan focuses deeply on these three efforts. Sustain, develop, connect. It has become a sort of mantra that centers us and keeps our mission always at the top of mind. We sustain careers by investing in playwrights as artists in all stages of their careers. We develop their new theater work by listening to what they need and want in order to achieve their vision—and we provide it. We connect to theaters by cultivating long-term relationships between playwrights and producers of new plays.
2015-16 was an incredibly productive year in terms of these connections. It was the official launch of our partnership program we’d been seeding for the past few years: the Regulars. Through this landmark program, we partner with nearly 100 theaters around the country to bring them to the Center to spend time with writers and co-develop new plays with us—with a keen eye towards production. Sixty percent of these plays we’ve co-developed have gone on to full production within two years (rather than the 7-year average for plays to see production), and we’re excited to continue this essential work as an anchor to our vision.
Thank you for your continued support, which makes the dream of playwriting a real possibility for the 1,600+ writers who called the Playwrights’ Center their artistic home during the 2015-16 season!
Jeremy B. Cohen
Producing Artistic Director
We invest in playwrights as artists in all stages of their careers.
playwrights supported in 2015-16 through membership, fellowship, and education programs
in direct financial support to writers
These 13 fellows received $229,500 in direct financial support through the Center’s 5 fellowship programs, funded by the Jerome and McKnight foundations.
These 27 playwrights received a fully funded play development workshop as part of their 3-year terms as Core Writers.
During their tenure, Core Writers have the opportunity to workshop their plays at any stage of development. All workshops are customized to help writers achieve their goals. In addition to the development of the writers’ plays, the Center facilitates new connections between its Core Writers and producing theaters, and works with theaters to co-develop plays in preparation for production.
Fellows and Core Writers are selected by diverse national panels of artists and theater leaders.
The Affiliated Writers group is open to all writers who have been part of fellowship or Core Writer programs at the Center. All of these playwrights are welcome to reapply and encouraged to take advantage of the resources the Center can provide, including potential co-development partnerships with the Center's Regulars partners. The Affiliated Writers group represents the extended family of writers that make up the Playwrights’ Center.
Affiliated Writers at the end of 2015-16
In addition to the Fellowship and Core Writer programs, the Center offers personalized, professional services to playwrights of all styles and experience levels through an active membership program.
members at the end of 2015-16
increase in membership over the previous year
New Plays on Campus member schools
New Plays on Campus student members
We listen to what playwrights need and want to achieve their vision–and we provide it.
new play workshops and readings
In October 2015, the Center presented its 32rd PlayLabs festival, featuring readings of three plays workshopped for 10 days by Core Writers: The Hidden People by Joe Waechter, Small Town Values by Kathryn Walat, and Halftime with Don by Ken Weitzman.
“PlayLabs provided the time and environment for me to write fearlessly. After our first read-through, I dove into my play, rewriting Act 2 and 3 from scratch. Without PlayLabs, actual laboratory time to experiment and work on my play, I might have never realized that this strange two-dimensional document of paper and black ink pulsed with life.”
—Joe Waechter, Core Writer
Between December 2015 and April 2016, the Center’s Ruth Easton New Play Series featured readings of workshopped plays by five of the Center’s Core Writers: Scientific Method by Jenny Connell Davis, ENCYCLOPEDIA by Rachel Jendrzejewski, SEEK by Susan Soon He Stanton, California Love by Alice Tuan, and A Guide for the Homesick by Ken Urban.
“It's so important to move the 2-dimensional ideas into 3-dimensional space with actors and their voices and instincts, their expressive bodies, their dynamic. For me particularly, to see an interracial cast and not have to talk about race was particularly satisfying. It felt natural—we did not have to get snagged on identity politics and could enjoy the sublime performances.”
—Alice Tuan, Core Writer
Membership at the Center is open to all and provides more than 1,600 playwrights worldwide with educational tools, resources, and development support.
member stage readings
one-on-one dramaturgy sessions
total class & seminar attendance
Open Play sessions
Open Play attendance
We cultivate relationships between playwrights and producers of new plays in recognition of how critical these bridges are in moving new plays towards production
The Center’s Regulars program continued to expand in 2015-16. As part of the program, producing artistic director Jeremy B. Cohen traveled from Southern California up the West Coast to Vancouver in April, and across New England and New York City to meet with theaters in June. Associate artistic director Hayley Finn traveled to both New York City and Philadelphia in the spring.
The purpose of these trips is to connect with theaters that are part of the Regulars program and establish connections with theaters not currently in the program. Concrete results of these types of meetings usually manifest over two to three years; however, there were some immediate outcomes of those 2016 spring trips that enabled the Center to support playwright connections with producing theaters within the year.
When Jeremy was visiting Portland, Oregon, he met with Dámaso Rodriguez, the artistic director of Artist Repertory Theater (ART) to talk about artist overlap and connection, and how the Center could support ART in helping bring more new plays to the stage. As a result of their conversation, the Center learned about ART's commission with Core Writer Larissa FastHorse. This December, the Center was able to work in collaboration with ART to support a development work of FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play, which enabled the team to work on the play deeply and helped guarantee its world premiere next season.
Philadelphia is home of the renowned Wilma Theater, and during Hayley’s visit to the city, she met with the theater’s Dramaturg/Literary Manager, Walter Bilderback. They discussed the Wilma’s commission of Core Writer Kate Tarker’s new play, Dionysus is a Nice Man. In November, the Center supported a workshop of Kate’s play, and Walter flew to Minneapolis to serve as the dramaturg. While Walter was in town, he also met with Playwrights’ Center fellows, which enabled the writers to make new connections with the Wilma.
During his visit to San Francisco, Jeremy met with several people including Andy Donald, Associate Artistic Director at ACT, and Loretta Greco, Artistic Director from the Magic. Both Andy and Loretta flew from San Francisco to attend the Center’s annual PlayLabs Festival in October. Loretta Greco was so intrigued by an excerpt she saw of Emily Feldman’s play, Go. Please. Go. as part of the Fellows Showcase, that she spent time with Emily in Minneapolis, requested the script, and immediately placed it in her own new play festival reading series in San Francisco.
The Center partnered with theaters locally and nationally, including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Mu Performing Arts, Red Eye Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Network of Ensemble Theaters, and South Florida Theatre League to provide development and financial support to new play workshops.
in support of partnership workshops
productions of Playwrights’ Center-developed plays, at theaters from Minneapolis to Luxembourg
The Center’s New Plays on Campus program is an institutional membership for colleges and universities that provides supplemental support to playwriting students through educational and professional resources. It also connects member schools with professional playwrights and new plays for their theaters.
Students of New Plays on Campus member schools are eligible to apply for the Playwrights’ Center’s highly competitive Core Apprentice program, which gives three students a year-long mentorship with a professional playwright and a fully-funded play development workshop at the Playwrights’ Center.
“Having the support of the Playwrights’ Center and the theatrical giant David Henry Hwang has enhanced my life as an artist, person, and politically active citizen.”
—Raquel Almazan, Core Apprentice
The Playwrights’ Center ended the 2015-16 fiscal year with an operating surplus for the third year in a row, building on our long-term financial stability.
The Center uses generally accepted accounting principles to recognize the full value of multi-year grants in the year in which they are received. This accounts for a $522,668 decrease in net assets in 2015-16 as the Center spent down grants awarded in previous years.
The Center ended the year with an operating surplus of over $50,000, which was invested in the Center's operating reserve.
support and revenue
The Playwrights' Center is an arts service organization dedicated to supporting playwrights at all levels of experience. Because tickets to season events are free, the Center relies on contributions from individuals and institutions for 88% of its annual funding.
change in net assets See note above on net assets
net assets - beginning of year
net assets - end of year
The Center ended the year with $443,550 in operating reserves. The Center has no long-term debt.
The Center introduced its first defined major gifts effort by launching Page to Stage, a group of supporters dedicated to helping the Center move new plays developed at the Center toward production. This visionary cohort supports the Center’s individually-tailored play development partnerships with new-play-producing theaters in the Twin Cities and beyond. Partners share the costs of developing new plays with the Center, which provides space and production support, including casting, workshop personnel, and travel/housing arrangements. These collaborations help bridge the gap for theaters interested in producing new work that lack the resources to develop it most effectively.
raised in 2015-16
already pledged over the next few years
Thank you to all our donors for helping us build an artistic home for so many talented writers this year and throughout our 44-year history.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Gifts supporting the Playwrights’ Center’s efforts to move new plays from development to production.
Represents gifts from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.