McKnight National Residency and Commission

McKnight Foundation

The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive.

The intent of the McKnight National Residency and Commission is to support an established playwright from outside of Minnesota who demonstrates a sustained body of work, commitment, and distinct artistic vision. The Recipient of the Residency and Commission will create a new play which will be developed with the Playwrights' Center through a series of workshops and will culminate in a public reading of the play.

Recipients will not be required to move to Minnesota but will have opportunities to engage with local artists and the Playwrights' Center staff and fellows throughout their term (July 1, 2024-June 30, 2025). One of the goals of this program is to create dialogue between Minnesota-based artists and those outside of the community. Benefits include: a $15,000 commission, up to $12,250 in workshop funds to support the development of the play, and a public reading. Past recipients include: Aya Ogawa, Sharon Bridgforth, Kia Corthron, Erik Ehn, Idris Goodwin, Karen Hartman, Daniel Alexander Jones, Sibyl Kempson, Taylor Mac, Dan O'Brien, Heather Raffo, Betty Shamieh, James Anthony Tyler, and Mfoniso Udofia.

Applicants must reside in and have the legal right to work in the U.S. Applicants must be nationally recognized playwrights who have had at least two different plays fully produced by professional theaters by the time of application. (At least one play must have had a production actually be presented fully before an audience. If you have had an additional play be scheduled for production and publicized, but the production was canceled for reasons outside of your control within the last three years, you may count that as your second professional production.) Minnesota-based playwrights are not eligible for this award. Recipients of the 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23, and 2023-24 McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships in any discipline are not eligible. Full-time students are not eligible. Staff and board members of the McKnight Foundation and the Playwrights' Center or their immediate families are not eligible. Recipients may not receive any other Playwrights' Center fellowships or Core Writer benefits during the grant year. If a recipient is a Core Writer, their Core term will be extended by one year. Recipients must create a new play according to the terms of the contract. Applicants may only apply for one McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowship each year in any of the disciplines listed below.   

The McKnight Fellowship disciplines include: Printmaking (Highpoint Center), Book Arts (MCBA), Fiber Arts (Textile Center), Choreographers and Dancers (Cowles Center), Media Artists (FilmNorth), Visual Artists (MCAD), Ceramics (NCC), Composers (ACF), Musicians (MacPhail Center), Writers (the Loft), Playwrights (Playwrights’ Center), Theater Artists (Playwrights’ Center), Culture Bearers (Indigenous Roots), and Community-Engaged Artists (Pillsbury House).

"The McKnight National Residency and Commission has supported me in more ways than I could have possibly imagined when I applied. The fellowship allowed me to expand and deepen my relationship with the Playwrights' Center—which fostered the completion of my piece."

– Sharon Bridgforth
McKnight National Residency and Commission 2022-23

McKnight Foundation Community Values

The McKnight Foundation and the administering partners for the McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships are committed to creating and supporting an artistic community in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. The community of the McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships includes people who engage with the fellowships program whether as applicants, fellows, panelists, contractors, collaborators, fellowships administrators, and staff of the McKnight Foundation and partnering organizations. As a community, we commit to creating and maintaining relationships that are free from harm, prejudice, and harassment. Community members agree to communicate directly and transparently regarding issues of conduct that could negatively impact the well-being of participating members and organizations. In the case of an accusation, legal action, or conviction, the McKnight Foundation and its fellowship program partners may gather and assess relevant information. If deemed necessary, the McKnight Foundation and its fellowship program partners may take administrative action up to and including the recommendation of participation in reconciliation or restorative justice processes; disqualification of an application; the termination of a contract; and the recall and/or termination of a fellowship. This community will be what we make it and our aim is to collectively create an experience in which all artists and members of the McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowships community thrive.

The Application

(NOTE: The primary language used by evaluators during the selection process is English. If text is intentionally written not in English, a line of context would be helpful to an evaluator. Playwrights’ Center acknowledges this is an ethnocentric practice. While most Fellowship activities and engagements are conducted in English, Playwrights' Center staff are available to discuss additional support and resources as necessary.)

Each application will contain the following pieces:

-Application Form
(including contact details, eligibility, and demographic information)

-Playwriting Resume
Please note clearly which productions listed on your resume (if any) meet the criteria for being "fully produced by a professional theater." Professional productions are defined as full length productions—running at least 45 minutes in performance— for which the author and primary artists (actors, directors, and creative collaborators) were reasonably compensated and that received at least three public performances each. Ten-minute or one-act plays and university, college, secondary school, amateur, and Equity showcase/waiver productions are not considered full professional productions. Productions that open after the application deadline of December 14, 2023 do not count.
At least one play must have had a production actually be presented fully before an audience. If you have had an additional play be scheduled for production and publicized, but the production was canceled for reasons outside of your control within the last three years, you may count that as your second professional production.

-Full-length play script
Submit a play that is representative of your work. A full-length play generally runs at least 45 minutes. If you are hoping to submit a script that is shorter than 45 minutes in length, please contact Julia at to discuss. Co-written work will not be accepted, and musicals may be submitted by the book writer only. If you have previously received a McKnight Artist and Culture Bearer Fellowship in any discipline, this script must have been completed after that fellowship year.
NOTE: If you are planning to apply with a musical, please be aware that only text submissions are allowed. We do not accept any audio files or links to external websites, and evaluators will be instructed to not seek out any demos or audio tracks related to submitted scripts. We recommend that you consider the strength of just the text of your piece—separate from any music or other elements—as you select which piece to submit.

-2-3 page Project Proposal
This proposal should explain the project you intend to create if you receive the commission. The evaluators are looking for a project that is relevant, compelling, original, and that could reasonably have a first draft finished within the year. Please also detail why you would like to develop  this piece with the Playwrights’ Center and your interest in engaging with the community here. Readers and panelists will be evaluating the specificity of your project and development/residency plans to the local community, so be sure to discuss why the Playwrights’ Center, Minneapolis, and/or Minnesota is the right place for you to work on the piece.

-One letter of recommendation
Please request one letter of recommendation from an artistic professional familiar with your work as a playwright. Letters must be received by the application deadline: December 14, 2023. You will be sending a request through the application portal below. You may request a letter through the application system before finishing your final application, so we recommend that you click on the link below and begin your application sooner rather than later to give your recommender time to complete their letter.
New for 2023: Letters of recommendation are valid for three years. If you would like to resubmit a past letter of recommendation, please email Artistic Programs Manager Julia Brown at at least two weeks before the application deadline. We try to keep all letters on file, but we cannot guarantee that each letter will be available.

Questions may be addressed to Artistic Programs Manager Julia Brown at

Note: You will need to make a SlideRoom account in order to apply. If you are a Playwrights' Center member, your PWC login will not automatically log you in to SlideRoom—they are two different systems. If you already have a SlideRoom account, you should be able to access the application using your existing login.

For a video tutorial on using SlideRoom, please click here.

An information session about the application and program was held on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. CT on Zoom. The recording of that session is available below.

We are offering a working session on Monday, November 27, 2023—in partnership with Springboard for the Arts—on the topic of creating successful artist statements. Register for this free event here.

Applications for the 2024-25 McKnight National Residency and Commission are due Thursday, December 14, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Click here to access the application in slideroom »

December 14, 2023
McKnight National Residency and Commission